Behold the Beautiful


Sometimes when something ugly happens, I think one of the best things we can do is turn our gaze to beauty. 

There's something transcendent about feasting with our eyes and filling our minds with as much as beauty as we can hold so that it brims over and flows into our souls. 

Last week from my office window I watched a cavalcade of media trucks, parked one after the other, reporting on the devastating events of Orlando. The streets I travel every day were eerily empty of traffic yet filled with intense commotion.

I work on the communications team for the hospital where many of the injured patients were treated.



I walked out to the corner with my colleagues to check out the scene and saw hordes of cameras and tangled cords and studio lights.

Reporters from national and international news organizations stood under tents while staffers held fans to make them look as if they weren’t sweltering on our first 94-degree day of the summer. 

When we returned to our office, we passed more of our coworkers heading out to the scene. One of the managers told us to take off our hospital badges so the media wouldn’t see who we worked for and ask us any questions about the conditions of the patients.



It hadn't occurred to us to take off our ID badges, but that’s not what happened while we walked among the media tents. 

When people saw we worked for the hospital, they wanted to do something for us.

A funeral home official told us they wanted to offer their services at no charge to the families of patients. 

A group pulling a wagon full of bottled water offered us water. When we declined, they insisted, expressing their appreciation.



At the deli where I often take out lunch, the cashier told me all week long she’d taken calls from places like Boston and Newtown, Connecticut. 

She said people ordered $800 and $1,000 worth of sandwiches and asked for them to be offered to the media and hospital staff and everyone who was out on the street just doing their job. 

I thought about how generous people’s hearts were. 

And then I remembered why they were here.



And that’s why we need beauty.

Beauty is a soul-restorer and heart-healer. 

Last summer I traveled to Bellagio, Italy, for a faith and art retreat. 

I’ve shared many of the photos I captured here on my blog, but Cathy Walters, a professional photographer from Denver, traveled with our group. She offered some of her official photos to us as a keepsake, and her expert eye captured the loveliness of Italy.

So I’m sharing them here with you. 

Because I'm not sure what you're looking at these days, but maybe like me, you might want to behold a little bit of beauty.


























There was rich beauty in the landscape of Italy, the rugged mountains, and lush hillsides beside the ancient buildings.

There was peaceful beauty on the waters and in the surging waves churned up by the boats. 

There was luscious beauty in the food of the region and in the ripe, gorgeous gardens. 

There was a harmonious beauty in the new friends I met, imaginative beauty in the art we created, and spiritual beauty in the prayers we shared together on our last day of the retreat.

If you are feeling discouraged, disheartened or overwhelmed just now, I hope you gaze on what captivates your heart with beauty.

Until you’re filled up to overflowing.

{All Italy photos in this post are by Cathy Walters Photography.} 




I'm having coffee with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for your Heart. Join me there for more posts from my blogger friends!

Comments

  1. Love, love this Valerie! The beauty of the photos and your words. A friend of ours who is in seminary was part of the relief team for The Salvation Army serving at the scene this past week. He too, has been overwhelmed with the community coming together in so many ways. As beautiful as Italy is, there is no greater beauty that serving others in love. Thanks for posting this. We all need to be reminded of the beauty.

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    1. Debby,
      I'm so grateful to hear that your friend experienced a similar outpouring of kindness. It really has been remarkable seeing our community gather for prayer, help in practical ways and connect with others in new ways we've never imagined. Thank you for your lovely words, friend!

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  2. Beauty for ashes.

    I am so saddened by what has gone on in your little city in these past days, Valerie. Praying for you as you shine His light as you go about your business. May the Spirit continually refill and refuel you.

    My heart is there ...

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    1. Linda,
      Your words ring true! Beauty has truly risen from the ashes of what was meant to hurt and destroy. I cherish your thoughts and prayers and appreciate you standing with us!

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  3. This tugs my heart strings- the stories of compassion and the images of beauty... I just have no words... Thank you for the reminder to fix our eyes on God's grace and glory dear friend ♥ I hope that the hustle of the media has calmed but that the spirit of helping stays in tact. xo! Thinking of you today!

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    1. Heather,
      Today we finally have our streets reopened and that is bringing a lot of restoration to our little office area. Fixing our eyes on God -- yes, that's where we have to keep them, to experience his perfect beauty! xo

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  4. Thank you so much for the uplifting post Valerie. :)

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    1. Brittany,
      Why, thank you for popping in today! :) xo

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  5. wow and wow. first, that you were there. and second, what a difference a professional camera makes! thanks for the feeding of my soul this morning in CA. framable art and words.

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    1. Hi Sue,
      Oh yes -- a great camera and a professional and talented photographer make all the difference! So happy to have you stop by here and grateful for your kind words!

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  6. It is always a good time for beauty, but yes, now especially. Thank you for sharing what others are doing to help. That is definitely beauty in action! We are praying!

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    1. Hi Sarah,
      We so appreciate your prayers for our city!

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  7. Thank you for this amazing post, Valerie. What an incredible offering of beautiful images: both in Nature and in Hearts. I am praying for you and your community, to be held even closer to the ONE who longs to restore His beauty in us! --Blessings and Hugs to you!

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    1. Hi Bettie,
      Glad you enjoyed taking a little virtual trip to Italy! I'm encouraged by your kind words!

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  8. I love this! You always have such a way to bring about encouraging or challenging words through your everyday life. It is so easy for us to focus on the bad but there is a lot of beauty to focus on. This is going to sound funny but every time I go outside I get greeted by my chickens. They are anything beautiful but who they are and whom they have came from makes them unique. It allows me to just for a few seconds experience peace through God's creation even in the quirkiness. : ) visiting from coffee for your heart #73

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    1. Hi Kristina,
      I love it that chickens bring you laughter, but I have to ask where you live?! I stayed on a goat farm once and actually held a chicken for all of five seconds and I was a little traumatized! :) But I'm so grateful for your words here!

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  9. I've heard several stories and the goodness and kindness that has come out of tragedy. Too bad that's not the media's focus. Thank you for sharing your glimpses of beauty with us, friend. Praying for Orlando still.

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    1. Hi Tiffany,
      So grateful for your prayers. It's so true that kindness does emerge from what was meant for harm!

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  10. Valerie-
    This is so good- Thank you for these thoughts. I love that its ok to look at the beauty when there is so much heartache. Sometimes I feel bad doing that like I need to dwell in the pain out of compassion or something? but how true and right that we need breaks and beauty does that. It reminds us that God is still good, and still in charge. He is our Daddy the Beautiful One and has made us a beautiful place to dwell with him! These pictures are simply amazing! I want to go....! Anyway hope all is well sending hugs xo

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    1. Hi Susie,
      I'm with you on feeling bad about turning from the pain, but I think beauty doesn't allow us to forget it, but instead lead us deeper into the creator of all beauty -- God's heart for us. I LOVE your words -- yes, he is the ultimate beautiful one! xoxo

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  11. You're writing and point of view always captivates me. I love how you find the beauty amongst the harshness of reality.

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    1. Hi Bree,
      We have to find the beauty, don't we? And sometimes, as you know, we have to search hard to find it! Always love it when you stop by here, friend!

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  12. Ahhhh. Autocorrect. Your! :)

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  13. I love that you captured and wrote about the goodness that came out of this tragedy. And those pictures are just gorgeous!! - Shawna

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    1. Shawna,
      Love your words, as always and so grateful for your friendship and encouragement! xo

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  14. I so needed this today. I love, love the pictures. The beauty captured is simply amazing. It reminds me of God's promise to give us beauty for ashes in Isaiah 61 vs 3. It's a promise I constantly remind God of. I found this post uplifting! It sows that there is beauty in spite of the chaos. We just have to find it and concentrate on it. So, we can get a full glimpse of our SOVEREIGN God.

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    1. Hi Jane,
      Thank you so much for reading and I'm glad you enjoyed the photos -- Italy is so beautiful! I do love how God brings beauty from our ashes.

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  15. Beauty is healing isn't it? Your friend's photos are amazing and I almost felt like I was right there. Thank you Valerie.
    Patti

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