Sometimes beauty is a surprise.

No one is surprised when the bride looks beautiful as she walks down the aisle (sometimes we’re a surprised that the groom looks half-decent – but that’s another story!).  A spectacular sunset, an iridescent hummingbird, a baby’s first smile are all beautiful – but no one is surprised when they happen.

There is something extra-special about an unexpected beauty.

Such a point came home to me this week. We’ve had significant building work done on our home. The builders have finished, and it is now up to us to do the decorating. Our funds were more or less used up on the construction phase, so we’re being as innovative as we can regarding the cost of the decoration and furnishings.

The kitchen lights needed lampshades. What did we do? My wife went to Tesco, bought three colanders for £4 each, drilled a hole in the bottom using her jigsaw, and attached them to the light fittings. £12 total cost – a bargain!

But there’s more. You see, we put them up in the daylight. When night came we turned on the lights and what did we observe? An unexpected beauty. The pattern on the ceiling was a delightful surprise.

Such surprising beauty added to the already considerable joy we felt from simply saving money!

The source of beauty was unexpected (a £4 metal colander from a supermarket!), but we recognised it when we saw it. Do we always recognise the beauty of what God is doing around us, I wonder? Some of the people in Jesus’ day did not.  For example in the Gospel of Mark we read about the woman who “came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.” (Mark 14:3 NIV11). 

The onlookers did not see anything beautiful in this action. Instead they gave her a hard time, “Why this waste of perfume?…..” And they rebuked her harshly.” (Mark 14:4–5 NIV11). But Jesus saw it differently. He saw beauty.

“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.” (Mark 14:6 NIV11)

The beauty the audience missed is the beauty that endures. Jesus said, “wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” (Mark 14:9 NIV11), and he was right! We tell the story today, as indeed I have in this blog.

What might be the lesson for us? Perhaps it is that Jesus valued the people others devalued. He saw beauty in them, and that is why they did beautiful things for him. If we accept that we are beautiful to God, we will be correctly motivated to do beautiful things. And, crucially, we will begin to notice the beauty in people around us.

Have a beauty-noticing day. As for me, I’m off to see to what else we can do with colanders.

I hope you have a wonderful week, and God bless.