The planet is so very beautiful. These beetles show off a creator whose love of beauty and diversity is impossible to ignore. The planet has some horrors in it to be sure, and some ugliness. But there is so much beauty and an image like this reminds me of how very beautiful life is.
Today is the feast of saints whose call to simplicity is marked by the passage from Luke’s gospel in which these words appear: “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money– not even an extra tunic.” These are the words of a Savior who’s call to simplicity was not about resenting beauty or extravagance; rather these words are the words of a shepherd who knew that glory is given and not grabbed.
What does it mean for church leaders to live by these words of Jesus? What kind of simplicity are we called into in Lent? Not the repelling of beauty – it is all around us. Rather the mindfulness of living in such a way that everyone can eat, everyone can have dignity, everyone is warm when it is cold outside and everyone has access to health care. Are these radical ideas? No. They are simply the notions of a man for whom beauty was part of God’s glory. Consider the lilies of the field. Live simply. Do not worry.
Lent is not complex. It is quite simple. Lent is a call not to the rejection of beauty bit rather, to the embracing of a way of life which allows all of humanity to live with dignity. We need not give all we have away, as long as we are willing to do so. These beetles are cloaked in God’s beauty, even as they live short and simple lives. We may spend Lent quite well by simply living simply. Is that new shirt essential? Is that new car really necessary? Could that money be set aside for the poor?
The beauty of the spiritual life is not about rejecting a beautiful world. It is about not grabbing at it.