The experience of beauty can be so intense for me that it hurts my heart — but it’s a joyful hurt that is full of the pleasure of experiencing something which is completely true and real.
I first encountered this idea when I was too young to understand it. A Star Trek episode quoted a line from English poet George Herbert which asked, “Is there in truth no beauty?”
I spent a lot of time pondering that line, because it felt important in an irrational way. As I read the various English romantic poets in college, I started seeing a glimmer of understanding, but I still wasn’t there.
I read about how the Greeks equated beauty and truth. I read the English poet John Keats’ line, “Beauty is truth and truth is beauty.”
And then when I experienced a deeper form of mature love, it all suddenly made sense. I still couldn’t explain the reasoning, but I could suddenly feel it. When I experience transcendent beauty — of the kind I experienced when I photographed this sunset Monday night — I experience something about truth.
That beauty and truth transport my heart to images of her face — and I am suddenly far away from this physical world, in a place that feels spiritual. Ethereal. Mystical. Full of truth and beauty and love.
My brain screams that it all sounds like nonsense, but my heart undestands and is bathed in a light of pure truth when this happens. It’s like a religious experience — being taken to a mountaintop to see the face of God.
When I experienced this beauty tonight, I saw her face in it. I felt her heart. I felt her love. And even though it was all in a spiritual realm, it was as real as the bright palette of colors in front of my eyes.
It was beauty.
It was truth.
It was love.
It was her face.
It was everything rolled into one and held up high as something that can be experienced but not explained.
I wish I could tell her this, but I can’t. I’d like to send this to her and say, “This is your face to me,” but I can’t. I wish I could step out of this world and step into an ethereal world where I experience her. My heart longs to share this experience of truth and beauty with someone who has no way to know I see her face in the sunset.
I suppose she will never know. That brings sadness to the joy. It mixes hurt with the beauty.
I don’t know where she is tonight — and I don’t know that I couldn’t successfully explain this if I tried to talk with her about it — but I saw her face tonight.
The romantic writers knew that truth and beauty were somehow connected. I can’t explain it, but I know it’s true. The same God who made her face — and taught me to understand and to love every line and angle of it — showed me the same beauty in the sky in front of me tonight.
My heart can experience what my brain can’t explain. And that’s OK. It hurts to experience that much beauty — and to be filled with love at the sight — but it’s the only way I have to experience her.
My life would be easier if I didn’t feel that way, but I have to trust that the God who created the sky and her face and my heart — and taught me the connection between them — has His reasons for painting this picture of truth and beauty which I can scarcely comprehend.
Note: If you’ll click the photo, you can see it at three times the size of my normal photos on here. It’s best experienced at a bigger size.