While out hiking early one spring morning, I was met by a magnificent vista: sleeping communities nestled among trees and valleys around San Francisco Bay. Sunlight danced on the water, and across Golden Gate, its bridge stretched in sharp relief. I felt a surge of gratitude for all the beauty of God's creation, as if the Psalmist were speaking right in my ear, "Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined" (50:2).

What is beauty? What is it that holds us breathless at the blazing sunrise, full-hearted  as we gaze on the face of a sleeping infant, uplifted by the grace of a dance? The objects and events people describe as beautiful are so distinct from one another that it's impossible to define beauty by some merely material standard.

The essence of beauty is spiritual. True, many people would concede that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder"—not necessarily dependent on physicality but a quality that shines from within. Yet most people still view existence as inherently physical. As a result, we're a society convinced, for the most part, that we need the proper diet, exercise, drug, or surgery to achieve and maintain beauty.

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July 24, 2006

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