I started off the day with my daily “fix” of coffee…but today, over ice!
I have little rituals that I enjoy, depending on the day, including my coffee. I also have some readings that I enjoy starting off the day with. I read some from a book called, “A Year With C.S. Lewis” (one of my favorite Christian writers). I also have a devotional book called, “A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants”…that helps guide me through a worship time of prayer for myself, my family and all of you.
But one of the more fascinating daily readings I enjoy (while still sipping my coffee) is a gift someone gave me, a book called “The Intellectual Devotional”. Now don’t assume that my friend thinks I’m intellectual, in fact, this book is supposed to help you BE more intellectual. It’s a great book, each day is differently themed with information about HISTORY (Mondays), LITERATURE (Tuesdays), VISUAL ARTS (Wednesdays), SCIENCE (Thursdays), MUSIC (Fridays), PHILOSOPHY (Saturdays) and RELIGION (naturally, Sundays).
Today I read a page about the Italian painter, Botticelli’s painting, “The Birth of Venus” which I saw in person at the Uffizzi Gallery in Florence, Italy a few years ago.
Botticelli loved beauty, as you can well imagine. His belief was that ALL things came from God, including some pagan beliefs. His paintings sometimes drew from Scripture AND Roman Mythology because he saw all things beautiful as coming from the throne of the Creator; he had no trouble reconciling both things together. Somewhat late in life, Botticelli fell under the influence of a very charismatic monk named Savonarolla who believed that all “luxury” items of the Renaissance (paintings, sculptures, etc. that had no PRACTICAL value) were pulling people away from God (he also played a large role in the recent mini-series I’ve enjoyed: THE BORGIAS). He encouraged citizens to burn their paintings and luxury tapestries, books of poetry and other things that HE considered worthless because they were merely beautiful. From this act comes a term we are still using today, “the bonfire of the vanities”. Botticelli also took some of his originals; drawings, paintings, etc and threw them into the bonfire as well.
It struck me while reading this, and because of the incredible beauty in our church building, that there is some sense in the pursuit of “beauty for beauty’s sake”. I believe that our Father IS the creator of beauty, and investing in something that points you to the True Creator and helps you see God and Yourself in the True Light, is well worth the investment.
When I walked through the Uffizzi in Italy, I was transported to a place that was “higher” than when I entered. I was inspired to be a better “artist” and creator myself, when I saw the historic works…I was, in short, given a greater glimpse of God.
There was another historic place outside, in the plaza of the Uffizzi…it held more meaning for me. It was a bronze plaque, set in the stone of the street, marking the place where the monk, Savonarolla was burned at the stake…when the people had enough of him. A sad ending to the life of perhaps a great man; driven by an obsession that probably started out as a good idea. Art should never REPLACE God, but should remind us of all that is “Good, Beautiful & True”.
I asked God to provide me with everything I need today…and this message was what my soul needed to hear. I continued to seek the Lord and found Him in an unexpected place. I continue to knock on the door today…that God will open and lead me to another great adventure.