I felt so guilty at the close of the day, headed to a farm with friends to grill, and dream, around a fire pit. I knew I would feast on beauty in all its forms – relationships, food, and nature – and had spent the day similarly. Intentionally carving out space of time to attend to space of dwelling, I had organized a new spice drawer, repurposed file boxes with colors from my new pallet, and thrift store hopped for hidden gems. My creative daughter in tow, we had had a great day.

But not far from my creativity were thoughts of Christians forced out of Iraq, kids from my sister-in-law’s homeland laying hope at our borders, a dear one who lost triplets, another praying in the health of twins, a third distancing herself from a hard marriage, another burying a parent. I felt indulgent with my spices and cute chalkboard labels. Who am I to enjoy beauty when so much pain surrounds me, us, in this world?

In the car on the way to the farm I dare to utter this to my husband. He has spent a day immersed in trauma, counseling people with heartaches too great to carry. I feel guilty even with him, knowing his holding of pain allows me to buy chalkboard labels. There are days he admits to jealousy so there are days of delight I hide. But he surprises me with his middle finger and a wry grin. “Don’t you feel like you’re stickin’ it to him?”

We had just passed the old strip club and a sketchy looking car so I’m confused. Who are we stickin’ it to? “Finding beauty despite the brokenness. Don’t you think that’s saying ‘up yours’ to the enemy?” I smile, considering.

And then today, out of nowhere, but thanks to Macrina Wiederkehr’s A Tree Full of Angels: Seeing the Holy in the Ordinary, I am reading Psalm 104: 15:

wine that gladdens the heart of man,

oil to make his face shine,

and bread that sustains the heart.

I am struck by the word gladden and overcome by an image of a long table beneath the cottonwood trees of last night… bistro lights and good food, laughter, bread and wine.Delight. God gave it all, to gladden our heart and make our face shine. To sustain our hearts, even when they grow weary.

So I’m going to stick it to him. My weapon in the face of harm and distrust and sadness will be beauty. It’s a small offering to a hurting world, but a sacred one. One I’ve already unknowingly been doing. This summer, I’ve been on a beauty hunt, as if needing to name and immortalize the small acts I notice: the chalk art street, the Rockies, the fabric flowers woven into the chain link fence penning an abandoned lot, a vintage wall with loved ones, an artistic place to sit, and the beauty of my risk-taker daughter as we drive through the campground.

But I’m curious, what do you do to “stick it to him?” How do you overcome the realities of a hurting world?

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