lover of beauty
Perhaps my favorite thing about spending May in Europe was the abundance of beauty all around. I loved walking through the streets and noticing all the florist shops and vendors selling fresh flowers. I greatly enjoyed looking in the windows of pastry shops to see all the perfectly crafted desserts. I was constantly blown away by the architecture all around. The large landmarks and cathedrals are more than impressive. Notre Dame is magnificent. But there is also beauty in the little details of Europe. I probably took at least thirty pictures of doors in Paris, Strasbourg, Heidelberg, and Switzerland, because they were all so lovely. I have an equal number of pictures of windows, fences, and storefronts.
Europeans’ appreciation for beauty is a defining characteristic of that culture. Europe is a more aesthetically pleasing place than America and other areas of the world I have been. America grew to its prominence as a country of production. There are many positive results of such a mindset, such as independence, a solid work ethic, efficiency, time management, and etc. But this also creates a temptation to becoming overly practical with everything.
For example, the parks in Europe are different than in America. Why do we have parks in cities? We have parks to create green space, where people and pets can exercise and spend time in a somewhat natural setting. But instead of just being green spaces for dogs to run, European parks have flowers and fountains and courtyards. A good amount of money and labor has gone into making European parks extremely beautiful. Since providing beauty is not the primary objective of city parks, is it worth it to spend extra money to do so? I would guess that a higher percentage of Europeans would answer yes than Americans.
Americans are more hesitant to see genuine purpose in arts and aesthetics. There’s a failure to realize that God is beautiful, and experiencing beauty in what God has created, and what He has enabled us to create, allows us to experience a reflection of God. It is good for our souls to see beauty around us. It can be good to slow down for a minute and notice a finely crafted doorway, it can be good to see the Alps on a sunny day, it is good to spend a few dollars bringing beautiful fresh flowers into your home, it can be good to spend extra time creating a meal that pleases all the senses instead of just your appetite. Europeans understand this. Europeans appreciate a part of the reflection of God that is too often ignored.