Monday, November 7, 2016

Delight – Attending to the grace & beauty woven into all creation

In a, well, delightful book, Mark Clavier writes,

Fundamentally, delight is enjoying something for its own sake. Delight is devoid of expectation and demand. It springs from the simple pleasure that something exists rather than doesn’t. That’s what makes delight completely different from entertainment. Entertainment has to stimulate us in order to remain entertaining; it distracts us. Delight, on the other hand, takes us deeper into the world around us. It involves a sot of communion or communication between that which pleases and the person who is pleased. Aquinas refers to this communion as “expansion” whereby our affection reaches out to the object of our delight “as though it surrendered itself to hold within itself the object of delight.” If I delight in a wildflower, for an all too brief moment I connect through something–an intuition, a feeling, call it what you will–with that flower. Love is present.

. . .

If you believe in a creator then a whole new dimension appears. I may not in the midst of delight love a wildflower in the same way I love a fellow human being, but something akin to love caused me to stop, notice the flower, and devote my attention to it. Augustine stated boldly that there is no love without delight and I argue that the reverse is also true–there is no delight without love. Because I believe that God created that wildflower, imbuing it with gentle beauty, I believe also that he, in a sense, wove grace into its atomic structure. My delight in the flower’s graceful beauty gives me a taste God’s own grace and beauty and that experience engenders love. Perhaps the reason for this is that God wove the same grace and beauty into me. In that sense, perhaps our appreciation of beauty and goodness in the other is really a resonance between the delight woven by God in us both.

Part of the discipline of paying attention is weaning ourselves from distraction and training ourselves to notice, appreciate, attend to, and give thanks for the beauty that surrounds us. As Clavier suggests, doing so is an act of worship and a means of communion with God who has woven his delight in all of creation.

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