William L. (Bill) Hendricks was a gifted theologian who died in 2002. Long before meeting him personally, I read his books and heard him speak to large gatherings of college students.
Though less flamboyant, he reminded me in some ways of Charles Nelson Reilly, a stage and screen star best known to my generation as a regular on The Match Game. He and Hendricks made the same effective use of sarcasm.
What I recall most about Dr. Hendricks, though much of what he said and wrote was worth remembering, was a line that contained the phrase, “lean into beauty.”
Like many quotes, it was reshaped as it got passed along. But it was something to the effect: When life is difficult (and/or unmanageable), lean into beauty and hold on to truth (or goodness).
However, those three central words — “lean into beauty” — provide enough wisdom to stand on their own.
Much of the divisiveness we experience today is over different views of (if not complete disregard for) truth — which seems to be more in the eyes of the beholder than beauty.
Therefore, beauty becomes a welcomed escape from the chaos, division, ignorance, anger, incompetence, selfishness, self-preservation and greed that encircles much of public life — threatening to squeeze out the peace that passes understanding.
There are internal, spiritual ways of withdrawing from this chaos to “fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable.” (Philippians 4:8 TLB)
However, immersing oneself in the perspective of beauty — especially in its rawest forms of creation — can be very hopeful and healing.
Yet such things are put into perspective by leaning into beauty — whether the artistic ways of others or the spellbinding handiwork of the Creator of all beauty.
Especially we who live by daily schedules and lengthy “to-do” lists — and find it hard to ignore the constant swirl of 24/7 information/misinformation — do well to set aside intentional times for refocusing our vision, renewing our perspectives and refreshing our lives.
Yes, I’m talking to myself. It’s time for some leaning.