Spirituality & Theology, Practice & Voice, BeyondBelief

Beauty is a Need of the Soul




Two Sundays ago, during our Earth-Day service here at All Souls, I preached about Beauty and explored various cultural perspectives on the subject. In that sermon, I made a case for why Beauty matters and how it’s considered a universal human right.

One of my favorite quotes from that service came from the poet and philosopher John O’Donohue who sees Beauty as a need of the soul.

He writes: “the human soul is hungry for beauty; we seek it everywhere—in landscape, music, art, clothes, furniture, gardening, companionship, in love, in religion, and in ourselves…When we experience the Beautiful, there is a sense of homecoming…We feel most alive in the presence of the Beautiful for it meets the needs of our soul.”

Nurturers of Beauty

This past weekend, my soul was in need of Beauty, and I went searching for it in various natural spaces around Tulsa. Since the COVID-19 outbreak began (and the isolation and uncertainty that has come with it) many of us are feeling stressed and anxious, but we can find solace and nourishment in the natural world. For many of us, engaging with Beauty (and creating Beauty) can be an enriching spiritual practice.

Patrick McCormick puts it this way: “in the creation of beauty, in the fashioning of something well-crafted, harmonious, startling, or pleasing; we achieve and fulfill our human identity and vocation as artists or co-creators and nurturers of beauty.”

Of course, I’m not suggesting that we use Beauty to escape our current reality; instead, I’m proposing we engage with beauty as a spiritual practice, to keep ourselves resilient during these challenging times.

Flower mandala with petals and acorn capsA variety of flower mandalas
I’m so grateful to live in a city that offers many green areas. Here are a couple of my favorites:

Woodward Park /Linnaeus Teaching Garden

Yellow Flag iris at Woodward Park in Tulsa, OK
Wooden bridge at Woodward Park in Tulsa, OK
Stone pond at Woodward Park in Tulsa, OK

Osage Forest of Peace

Labyrinth at Osage Forest of Peace
Small stone temple at Osage Forest of Peace

May you find renewal and nourishment in the natural world.

Rev. Mariela Pérez-Simons has served as an intern minister this year at All Souls and was recently ordained. She moved to Tulsa with her husband and their daughter last summer. Mariela grew up in Cuba and has an incredible story of coming to the United States. She is a graduate of Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago.  Mariela attended a seminary class here at All Souls that we hosted for Meadville Lombard in 2018. Upon spending a week with us, she knew that this was a place where she wanted to spend more time and learn and grow as a minister.

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