Posted by: DCox | December 31, 2008

Beauty Speaks into the Soul

The following is an excerpt from the book, Chasing Francis, that got me thinking about beauty and its meaning. I need to set the stage first … the “hero” of the story is Chase. He and a friend (Carla) have just attended a concert in Rome. Carla is a professional cello player and they have stayed for a post-concert lecture by a British musicologist named Liam Cudder.

Toward the end of the lecture, his remarks took a peculiar turn. “I have spoken for what must seem like an eternity to some of you.” The audience laughed. “Now I am interested in knowing what you felt during the concert,” Liam said.

There was an awkward silence. Finally one brave soul said, “Joy.” “Grateful,” someone else called out.
Cudder listened to a handful of responses, nodding his head after every reply. “I am always brought to tears when I hear a marvelous performance followed by a standing ovation,” he said. “I feel that at the climax of our cheering, we cross a boundary and unwittingly begin applauding some other reality, a performer we know is there but who cannot be seen. We want to thank Beauty itself.”

He held his finger up to his lips and paused. “Let me be bold for a moment. Is it possible that during this evening’s performance , we unconsciously sensed Someone standing behind the beautiful, Someone who is its source, and we were moved to praise him as well?”

…Cudder sat on a three-legged stool. “All of us we approach every painting, novel, film, symphony, or ballet unconsciously hoping that it will move us one step further on the journey toward answering the question, ‘Why am I here?’ People living in the postmodern world, however, are faced with an excruciating dilemma. Their hearts long to find ultimate meaning, while at the same time their critical minds do not believe it exists. We are homesick, but have no home. So we turn to the arts and aesthetics to satisfy our thirst for the Absolute. But if we want to find true meaning in life, our search cannot end there. Art or beauty is not the destination; it is a signpost pointing towards our desired destination.” from Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron

Lately, I’ve been enjoying photos posted on the Internet – pictures of famous pieces of art, pictures of well designed buildings, pictures of Christian symbols, pictures of people in deep relationship. These photos are stirring my heart to desire the Someone that is behind all this beauty and the truths represented.
Here’s a couple of pictures that stir my heart…




  1. Wow – what a great quote! I just read an article yesterday in The Economist about why music exists in almost every culture in the world and why people invest so much into the art. The best answer they could give is that it helps people be sexually successful and binds groups of people around a common interest. Basically the conclusion was that it helps the species survive. I felt overwhelmingly sad for those who have to live in that “reality.” I can imagine the writers of that article wanted music to mean more but logically couldn’t allow that. Liam Cudder hit the nail on the head. We sing because there is Someone to sing about and he has put a longing for beauty in us that wells up into art.


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