EPHEMERAL BEAUTY

Activated - - NEWS - By Cur­tis Peter van Gorder Cur­tis Peter van Gorder is a scriptwriter and mime artist6 in Ger­many.

A friend of mine men­tioned how he of­ten feels melan­choly after ex­pe­ri­enc­ing some­thing beau­ti­ful. I wasn't sure what he was talk­ing about. It wasn't un­til I started to re­call my feel­ings at the end of a mag­nif­i­cent sun­set, a fan­tas­tic day, or a mov­ing per­for­mance that I re­al­ized how of­ten I feel the same.

Strange, this para­dox­i­cal mix of joy and sor­row at things we do en­joy. Could it be that it re­minds us of the tran­si­tory na­ture of such plea­sures? Th­ese great feel­ings linger for a mo­ment and then van­ish into the past—liv­ing only in our mem­o­ries.

This mys­te­ri­ous feel­ing is univer­sal. The Ja­panese call it mono no aware, which means “the pathos of things.” It is some­thing they ex­pe­ri­ence yearly when the cherry blos­soms are in all their glory. Some­time around April, peo­ple pic­nic and gather un­der the flow­ers to sing, med­i­tate, and fully sa­vor a mo­ment that they know will fade away in a week or two.

The Ja­panese try to cap­ture the spe­cial short-lived cherry blos­som season, called sakura, in their flower ar­rang­ing, tea cer­e­monies, and es­pe­cially in their haiku poetry, which is like a snap­shot of an event in na­ture that con­veys a deep feel­ing—of­ten a sad, sweet thought.

Asu araba araba to omou sakura kana. To­mor­row and to­mor­row Will they still be? Cherry blos­soms.

When I lived in Jor­dan, my fa­vorite time of the year in Jor­dan was in the spring, when the rains came and the bar­ren desert burst into a sym­phony of flo­ral color. One time we went to the Wadi Rum desert dur­ing a rare rain­storm and mar­veled at how the mountain peaks abounded with water­falls cas­cad­ing down into the sandy val­ley be­low. We were try­ing to get out of the rain, but the Be­douin lo­cals loved it and drove back and forth through the newly formed streams in their jeeps. They were like kids splash­ing in pud­dles. They knew how soon the pre­cious liq­uid would soak into the in­sa­tiable desert sands.

Each year there would be one or two days when snow fell and ev­ery­thing would be cov­ered in a white blan­ket. On such spe­cial days, we would take a walk around the block to see the mun­dane trans­formed into a mag­i­cal won­der­land of snow and ice. The kids would build snow forts and have all-day snow fights, lov­ing ev­ery minute of it. The next day, the sun would come out and it would all dis­ap­pear.

Dear young peo­ple, let me now ask you a ques­tion. What will you leave to the next gen­er­a­tion? Are you build­ing your lives on firm foun­da­tions, build­ing some­thing that will en­dure? —Pope Bene­dict XVI (b. 1927)

Mu­sic and drama are in­her­ently ephemeral in their beauty. Per­haps that is why th­ese things give us mo­ments of pure joy, and in­still within us the de­sire to pre­serve those mo­ments.

The Bi­ble con­tains a few im­ages of ephemeral beauty. One that comes to mind is found in Isa­iah 40:8, where it says “the grass withers, and the flow­ers fall.” Then it goes on

1 to say that only “the Lord's word en­dures for­ever.” The Bi­ble also

2 talks about how our lives on earth are like va­por—we're here a lit­tle time and then we van­ish. I think

3 God made the won­der­ful mo­ments we ex­pe­ri­ence—as well as our whole lives—this way, so that we would learn how to make the most of those mo­ments, and more im­por­tantly, the most of our lives.

How­ever, the Bi­ble also en­cour­ages us that God's Word and love will never pass away. Je­sus told us, “I will never leave you nor for­sake you.” Three of the Gospels tell us

4 that: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”

5 Re­al­iz­ing that all the plea­sures of this life are fleet­ing helps keep my per­spec­tive on what re­ally mat­ters. There are times when I feel I am a “way­far­ing stranger” pass­ing through this world of woe and won­der, but it helps to know that what's done in love will last.

I re­cently gave one of our fam­ily photo al­bums to my daugh­ter to “keep safe.” How­ever, the suit­case that they were in was lost by the air­line! At first I was dev­as­tated at the loss, un­til I rec­og­nized that those mo­ments that were recorded in those pho­tos live on in my mem­o­ries and in the lives of my chil­dren, some­thing that no one can lose or steal from us.

I be­lieve that as we chan­nel God's love and Word to oth­ers, we can be as­sured that we are build­ing some­thing that will last—some­thing we can en­joy for­ever and that will never fade away.

1. NIV 2. 1 Peter 1:25 CEB 3. See James 4:14. 4. He­brews 13:5 5. Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke21:33 6. http://elixir­mime.com

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