A pair of doves nestled in a tree. Deer nibbling on leaves. Squirrels scurrying up tree trunks. Snow-capped mountains. The steady flow of the Deschutes River. These were just a few of the lovely sights that my husband and I enjoyed when we took a biking trip in the high desert country of Oregon.
It was during this vacation that I learned a spiritual lesson. I learned the importance of looking up.
I realized that if my focus had been downward the whole time, on the paved bike paths we were using, I would not have enjoyed all the beauty around me. This brought to light a fundamental truth I have learned in my study of Christian Science-that beauty is spiritual.
If we measure beauty, including that of ourselves and others, from the viewpoint of physicality, we often don't see much beauty. That's like a biker focusing on the pavement; the view is very limited. However, if we understand beauty on a spiritual level, looking up to God, who is Spirit, we will see His nature, His loveliness, everywhere.
How does a person view beauty on a spiritual level? By discerning, noting, the expression of qualities of God in ourselves and others. These are qualities such as joy, love, grace, gentleness, unselfishness. Spiritual qualities. When we express these Godlike qualities, actively live them, we're actually expressing beauty! God is the source of this beauty. Every single good attribute flows from God and is expressed by His spiritual reflection, His sons and daughters, you and me. When we choose to live these qualities every day, we are choosing to be beautiful.
The Bible says in First Samuel: "Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; . . . for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart" (16:7). These were the words Samuel heard from God when he was deciding whom to anoint as king. Jesse had had seven of his sons come before Samuel, but not one was chosen. It was then that Samuel was impelled to ask Jesse if he had another son. This son was the youngest, the shepherd David. And he was anointed.
This practice of looking on the "heart" to find worth and beauty is just as vital today as it was in Bible days. This is a practice, a goal, that gives you and me a new view of ourselves and of our fellow men and women. It directs thoughts away from the material, to our spiritual nature.
Mary Baker Eddy, who founded this newspaper in 1908, discussed what constitutes spiritual beauty in the textbook of Christian Science: "Comeliness and grace are independent of matter. Being possesses its qualities before they are perceived humanly. Beauty is a thing of life, which dwells forever in the eternal Mind and reflects the charms of His goodness in expression, form, outline, and color.
". . . Men and women of riper years and larger lessons ought to ripen into health and immortality, instead of lapsing into darkness or gloom" (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, pp. 247-248).
I have a dear friend who lives each day expressing the qualities of God's love to others. This is not mere human kindness. It is a spiritual love that comes from her own love of God. This friend is a long way past middle age, if you were to count years. However, unselfishness, joy, and love shine through her. She absolutely radiates beauty. You just can't help being attracted to her loving, spiritual glow.
We may be searching long and hard to figure out how to make ourselves look beautiful and be attractive to others. Well, the whole time we already are beautiful because we already are God's image and likeness, as is stated in Genesis (see 1:26). Love is beauty. Grace is beauty. Joy is beauty. Unselfishness is beauty. As God's child, you include in your true nature all that is beautiful!
We can get our eyes off the pavement. We can look up to God and measure beauty by the spiritual qualities that express His nature.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine.