Lilt: The Joy of Beauty


ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO (ANS)—In my newest series of geometrical abstract acrylic/oil on canvas paintings, I am using Morse Code symbols to provide a basis of understanding to the works, grounding them in words as a subtext of meaning.

As I thought about my newest painting, I came upon the title: lilt.   According to the Oxford online dictionary, the word lilt had its origin in the late Middle English period of language development.  In its evolution, lilt came to mean a pleasant song or a “rhythmical swing, flow, or cadence” (Merriam-Webster).

Jackson Pollock in front of one of his action paintings

I like that.  All art has a flow and cadence to it; there is rhythm to art, exuding accent and structure. Even the most seemingly unstructured works (think of an action painting by Jackson Pollock) has structure and form.

And through its form, it’s very being/existence, all art has a sense of beauty, a lilt of loveliness. Even bad art has some beauty to it—color, line, cadence, radiance, and shape.

Dietrich von Hildebrand

Concerning beauty, in his book Aesthetics: Volume 1, philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand states, “Beauty is of fundamental importance for the human person…Above all, beauty is a reflection of God.”

Dietrich von Hildebrand

Hildebrand notes, “beauty is a central source of human happiness,” bringing joy to life.  Likewise, Hildebrand demonstrates that beauty is not snobby culture, a luxury of the rich, but something more sublime and eternal, a transcendental aspect of God’s nature given to the world to enjoy.

Flowers, friends faces, and the fine music—all fall under the realm of beauty. And you don’t need to be rich to enjoy these gifts.  Beauty is not high culture (though its found there); rather, beauty is bestowed upon the world by God, to be cultivated, cared for, and of concern for all.  Beauty is an act of grace.


Tips on Cultivating Beauty

Here’s some tips for putting beauty in your life:

  • Plant a garden with your favorite flowers and plants.
  • Spend time with people, the beauty of friendship.
  • Sing, dance, and love all people and creation.
  • Purchase art music (classical, jazz, or folk) and listen attentively.
  • See a play or musical at a local theater. Or put on a play yourself with friends and family.
  • Paint your walls of your home to reflect your favorite colors.
  • Rent films noted for their beauty. Among others, You Tube lists the top 10 most beautiful movies as Russian Ark, Manhattan, Citizen Kane, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Conformist, The Fall, Lawrence of Arabia, Tree of Life, and others.  Use wisdom when picking the movie, but remember: movies provide a simple introduction to visual beauty.
  • Attend local gallery’s or museums, taking note of what you like and don’t like. Ask yourself why you like something?  What makes it beautiful to you?  Ask other people what makes the painting or artwork beautiful to him or her.
  • Attend local poetry readings and book lectures. Learn to love the spoken word, the beauty of words and story. Or write a poem or story yourself.
  • Enjoy nature, God’s gift of beauty. Take a walk, hike, camp, or cycle in nature.  Get out doors and enjoy creation.  Take advantage of your local preserves, open spaces, and natural wonders.
  • Read beautiful books. Time magazine interviewed different authors about his or her favorite books, which include books by authors such as Tolstoy, Twain, C.S Lewis, and Dostoevsky.
  • Find a beautiful church and take a tour or sit in it. Look at the architecture, the art, and the stained-glass windows.
  • Vacation in a city known for its unique architecture. Tour the city. In the United States, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Boston, and Santa Fe comes to mind.

    Aesthetics, Deitric von Hildebrand
  • And for the really adventurous, read a book about beauty. Here’s three of my favorite:
    • Aesthetics: Volume 1: von Hildebrand, Dietrich.
    • Aesthetics of Thomas Aquinas, Eco, Umberto.
    • The Glory of the Lord: A Theological Aesthetics, Balthasar, Hans Urs von

Be Happy

The truth is, I could go on and on with ideas of incorporating beauty in life.  But the point of this article is not to talk about it but encourage you to integrate it; be active and intentional in absorbing beauty.  Why? It’s a gift from God, and as von Hildebrand reminds us: “beauty is a source of human happiness.”

Be happy: let beauty lilt your life towards God’s loveliness.