June 16, 2013 – Fussen, Germany
I finally had a moment to pause this morning. Before Becca and I had to catch our train we decided to try and attend part of the worship service at St. Mang (abbreviation for the beloved saint of Fussen, St. Magnus). Oddly enough, a service never began. We wondered if the sign outside the church posting 10:30 am wasn’t referring to a worship service after all, but perhaps just when the church became officially open to visitors. However, that didn’t make much sense either because we had managed to pop our heads in earlier around 9 am when we were just perusing the quaint, winding cobblestone streets. In any case, we decided to stay in the chuch for a little while.
It was refreshing and even a bit of a relief to get to sit there and pray. It felt like days since I’d had both space and focus to pray. I closed my eyes and immediately found myself erupting with thanks. Thanks like billowing water welling up and pouring forth from deep within. I was thankful for the most incredible opportunities I’d experienced these five days–the kindness of so many people, sensational food, stunning sights, the amazing chance to travel with Becca, and the most spectacular, warm weather! The torrential rains causing the horrendous flooding seemed to have ceased the day I arrived. Phenomenal!
I opened my eyes for a bit, still praying, and drank in the sights around me. The ceiling was painted with exquisite frescoes–heavenly scenes of angels and clouds in calming shades of light blue, yellow and red. Around these numerous vignettes was elaborate, swirling white plaster moulding. I marveled at the artistry–such beauty! It then struck me, isn’t it fascinating that God invokes beauty? God being God could invoke any reaction in us, I suppose, but chose beauty. In the midst of God we find ourselves compelled to act beautifully. In this dance of engaging and offering beauty is when we are at our best. In other words, our best self bursts forth in the presence of God. It rises to the surface and we discover our own beauty and beautiful capabilities.
Being our best simply requires showing up, offering what we can at the time and letting the experience be a process rather than the completion of an idealized product–something perfect. I am constantly struggling with and trying to remember that my best does not mean perfection. Let us all find comfort in remembering perfection is left for God. When we expect perfection from ourselves our beauty actually gets stifled. We begin to feel stressed and overwhelmed rather than free and joyous. We may even feel guilt or shame for not being good enough rather than the grace of always being enough because of Christ’s gift of life for ours. In the presence of God we are invited to taste magnificence as we explore our beauty and abilities while growing in relationship with God and growing into ourselves. This is life’s journey–discovering what it is to be our best.
Even in writing this post I am struck by how much I have strived for this entry to be the product of my ideal best. I expected to have been able to relate the profound insights I had last Sunday with ease and eloquence. Instead, I have edited and re-edited this entry and the once clear insights I had have only become increasingly muddled.
So, it is here I attempt to put my observations into practice, even if not into articulation, and accept that today I will not come to some concrete understanding about what it is to be and do one’s best–to embody beauty having encountered God… But, I can hope and expect that in days to come so will clarity and these insights will evolve. And that is okay–that, is grace. And living into that is being my best self. And it is beautiful.