Startled by Beauty


Sunflowers by Van Gogh in the National Gallery in London

As I turned the corner in the National Gallery in London, my mind filled with Caravaggio’s light and dark-filled paintings featured in a special exhibition, a sight caused me to stop, my jaw to drop and me to stand in awe. Stunned by beauty, I could only stare.

I thought I disliked this painting.

A still life. Boring. Colors of mustard yellow that seemed dingy, dull, lifeless. At least I had thought so when I’d looked upon it in derision as it graced coffee mugs, tote bags and T-shirts. Ugly, I thought. Sure, I found beauty in so many of this artist’s creations and in Impressionistic art. But this, this I didn’t understand why people liked it.

Minutes passed as I stood taking in the thick brush strokes that swirled with the passion within. The “Sunflowers” by Vincent Van Gogh seemed to glow. And I stood in its beauty, transfixed and transformed.

Sometimes, I think we must have our prejudices sprung upon us so we can see the differences between reality and our misconceptions. Often poor reproductions of mass production can cause us to miss the beauty of the real thing. But when we are caught unaware, we can be startled by beauty and our reality changed.

May you be startled by beauty today.