Dandelions, such lowly little flowers. We don’t think of them as beautiful. In fact, we hardly notice them, except when they trespass into our green lawns. But early last spring a bright yellow dandelion growing next to the sidewalk caught my attention, along with the bee perched on it. I began researching and learned that in God’s wisdom, these yellow beauties pop up early in the spring for a reason. Before other flowers even think about blooming, dandelions bring a little sunshine and provide much-needed food to bees emerging from hibernation.
Painter of Dandelions
Albrecht Durer, a well-known German artist living at the time of Martin Luther, painted dandelions. Durer combined the technical skills of Italian Renaissance artists with the Northern European artists’ love of meticulous detail. He could paint perfect perspective, as well as the intricate design and glow of a jeweled necklace. Princes and wealthy merchants commissioned art from him. Today many know him for his beloved drawing, The Praying Hands.
Yet Durer loved to observe and paint nature. Unlike most artists of his day, he lavished color and detail on landscapes and little creatures, such as two squirrels crunching on acorns—their soft brown fur glows, and we can imagine their bushy tails flicking as they enjoy their feast. In another study he painted every single hair on a long-eared hare, and in a watercolor called a Great Piece of Turf, he painted weeds and three about-to-open dandelions.
We See Beauty Everywhere in Creation
God loves beauty and has lavished it on His creation. He paints beautiful sunsets every day! The American artist, Winslow Homer, once walked backwards all the way home from the post office, because he couldn’t bear to miss a moment of a sunset over the ocean.
God also gave beauty to small things many will never see. Antony van Leewenhoek, a 17th century Dutch cloth merchant ground lenses as a hobby. He loved to view butterfly wings, a human hair, and blood. He was the first to see microscopic creatures in pond water. A devout Christian, Leewenhoek wrote in wonder at the wisdom of God in creating such perfection in tiny, unseen creatures. With today’s microscopes, scientists can see the beauty of even more basic structures.
Of course, beauty isn’t just outward—it’s in all the beautifully-designed parts of creatures and plants. Have you ever watched a grasshopper as its long legs unfold to catapult it off the sidewalk? Or wondered at the inner mechanism that locks a dozing horse’s legs in place so it can rest and yet run in an instant? And what about the fan-shaped foot (yes, a foot!) of a barnacle that combs through the water to gather tasty bits of food?
God bestowed beauty even on things that might scare us, like spiders and thunderstorms. Jonathan Edwards, the great Puritan preacher who helped begin the Great Awakening, loved nature. He wrote about the beauty of God’s design in spiders—the silk they spun for webs and to sail on the wind. And he admitted becoming less afraid of thunderstorms when he realized their power pointed him to God.
Why Is Beauty Important?
We’re wired to love beauty; we even long for it, but beauty isn’t an end in itself. True beauty points to something greater. Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” And Psalm 111:2 says “Great are the works of the Lord; they are studied by all who delight in them.”
C.S. Lewis has described that longing for more beauty as a longing for God. In Scribbling in the Sand, Michael Card tells of an experience he once had in China. He was meeting with a group of college students and one after another they told how the beauty of creation had led them to the Lord.
Children are so open to the beauty and wonder of creation. Dandelions aren’t big or beautiful to most of us, but they’re a flower made for children.
They see the beauty in dandelions when they pick them and rub the yellow under their chins. Or when they send their wishes away with the fluff to dance on the wind. Let’s capture that wonder for the simple beauties of creation in our writing and point children to God.
In her recent Write2Ignite post, Karley Conklin wrote about using the language of poetry in our writing, and in Nancy Sanders post, she wrote about how familiar settings can help us write amazing stories. Both show ways to capture beauty in our stories.
What are some ways that you capture beauty in your writing?
Kathy O’Neill is an art teacher who loves to show everyone they can draw. Visit her website http://www.kathy-oneill.com/ to discover more about her writing and workshops, and her blog https://kathythepicturelady.wordpress.com/ for a Christian view of great art and related projects and devotions for children. Kathy’s goal is to engage children’s and adult’s hearts, hands and minds to discover God and their own creativity through art, history, and nature