In 1864, English hymnwriter Folliot Sanford Pierpoint, penned a classic hymn as he thought about the beauty around him. It is a hymn of praise to God. Here are the first four (of eight) stanzas. They speak of the beauty of creation, time, the senses, and human love. All areas of life in which beauty is found, if we will but take the time to look.

1) For the beauty of the earth,

For the beauty of the skies,

For the Love which from our birth

Over and around us lies:

CHRIST, our GOD, to Thee we raise

This our Sacrifice of Praise.

2) For the beauty of each hour

Of the day and of the night,

Hill and vale, and tree and flower,

Sun and moon and stars of light:

CHRIST, our GOD, to Thee we raise

This our Sacrifice of Praise.

3) For the joy of ear and eye,

For the heart and brain’s delight,

For the mystic harmony

Linking sense to sound and sight:

CHRIST, our GOD, to Thee we raise

This our Sacrifice of Praise.

4) For the joy of human love,

Brother, sister, parent, child,

Friends on earth, and friends above;

For all gentle thoughts and mild:

CHRIST, our GOD, to Thee we raise

This our Sacrifice of Praise.

I have not often thought of beauty as discipline, but it does require effort to appreciate. I have not often thought of beauty as an acquired skill, but the more one learns and studies the more beautiful the creation, music, art, science, people, and faith become.

For us to appreciate the beauty of creation we must take the time to look at it and think about it. I am amazed at the obvious — clouds, sunrises and sunsets, ocean waves, waterfalls, and the colors of springtime and autumn. I am more amazed at some of the smaller things — pollinators on flowers, birds, fish swimming in clear water — and how it all works together to make our planet inhabitable for all of us.

There is beauty in every hour of the day if we look for it. There is beauty in every stage of life — from beginning to end. It is often the difficulties that bring out the most beautiful moments of kindness, courage, faith, and healing. Sometimes it lies hidden beneath fracture and pain. It must be sought after and pursued.

Our senses are given to us so that we can process our existence. Those senses can be trained to find the beautiful parts of life, just as they can be trained to focus on the wretched. Seeing and hearing beauty where others cannot find it is a function of discipline, faith, and hope. It is not blind or naïve optimism. It is courageous living that will lift others up.

Love that flows out of our hearts and toward others has the capacity to create beauty in nearly every life circumstance. It is important for us to remember that love is dependent upon us and not others. It is not for us to expect it of others, but rather to demonstrate it everywhere we go. When people are around each other who think that way, beautiful things happen.

St. Francis de Sales (1567 — 1622) in his Treatise on the Love of God, points out that the whole of beauty can be seen while looking at only one aspect of it. “Sometimes we regard only some one of God’s perfections, as for example his infinite goodness, not thinking of his other attributes or virtues; like a bridegroom, who simply stays his eye upon the beautiful complexion of his bride, and by this means truly sees all her countenance, forasmuch as her color is spread over almost all the parts of it, and who yet at the same time would not be attending to the features, expression, and other points of beauty: for, in like manner, sometimes the mind, considering the sovereign goodness of the divinity, although withal it sees in it justice, wisdom, power, yet is only attentive to its goodness, to which the simple view of its contemplation is addressed.”

This, I believe, is how we want to learn to view other people as well. We all get mangled a bit by life, but we all have something beautiful in us. It is the eye trained by love and faith that knows where to look to find that beauty and in so doing sees only beauty.

This is not to ignore those things that need correcting, but rather to lift others up to be what they were created by God to be.

Take time for beauty. Look for it.

In so doing we will make the world more beautiful.