Last fall I had the opportunity to complete a counseling internship at a city jail. Day in and day out, I heard tragic story after tragic story, sometimes even eight stories a day. Stories of sexual abuse, prostitution, rape, and drug violence left my heart feeling heavy most days. I began to experience feelings of hopelessness and despair. Life felt dark.
It was during this time when one of my professors took me aside and said, “Shannon what is the opposite of darkness?” I jokingly responded, “Red wine.” Ignoring me, she replied, “Beauty!”
As I continue to reflect on the events of Hurricane Matthew in both Haiti and St. Augustine, I am overwhelmed by the way that, in the midst of destruction and darkness, so much beauty can rise. I loved the contrast that appeared within the pictures posted above. A broken down church (upper left) and yet people still praising God after the mass destruction (upper right). A broken road that can’t be trespassed (lower left) and young kids stirred to compassionately act and serve their neighbor amidst the despair (lower right).
Tim Keller referenced Henri Frederic Amiel, who once wrote, “You desire to know the art of living, my friend? It is contained in one phrase: make use of suffering.” I believe one way to make use of suffering is to lean in to beauty. What is beautiful to you? In the midst of this season of your life, wherever God has you, I pray that you never miss the beauty that still exists in this feeble and fallen world.