As I do most Fridays, I'm linking up with the Five Minute Friday community, writing for five minutes on a given prompt. This week's word: BEAUTY.
Many years ago a friend of mine made a cake for a church event. I don't even remember what the event was now -- an anniversary or ordination or something -- but I know she had put a lot of time into the design and lettering, so it was really special.
The plan was that after the church service everyone was going to come downstairs and the cake would be cut and served. But while the service was going on, the church ladies went ahead and cut the cake and put it on plates so it would be more convenient when everybody came downstairs.
Nobody saw the cake before it was cut except them -- yet they didn't stop and say, "Wait a minute, this is so pretty, we want to be sure everyone sees it before we start cutting it up." And they didn't take a picture of the cake, so no one else got to see it either.
My friend was crushed. Yes, it was "only" a cake -- and I am sure it tasted great and everyone enjoyed it. But it was beautiful too ... yet nobody else got to enjoy the beauty.
Sometimes, like in that instance, beauty goes unseen because someone is thoughtless. But there is also a lot of beauty in the world that goes unseen just because of the way things are.
In his poem "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard," Thomas Gray wrote,
"Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air."
If beauty always has to have a function and a purpose, then none of that makes sense. Why would something unseen have to be beautiful? Flowers and crystals might as well be ugly if no one's going to see them.
But beauty is its own reward. It doesn't have to have a function beyond itself. God created beautiful things, so God must love beauty. (I admit he must have a sense of humour, too, because there are also some pretty weird-looking creatures out there...)
It's sad that my friend's cake went unseen. But I hope she thinks it was still worthwhile to make it look beautiful. Even if no one ever sees it, beauty is worthwhile. Beauty makes the world a better place.