A joint quest for the beautiful

This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey. This week covers the Saturday Morning Session of the October 1977 Conference.
Painting by Sam. Inspired by this day, and a companion to this poem.

One winter evening soon after I started dating Sam, we were driving out to the store. The sun was setting and the clouds were glowing with bright colors. As we got out of the car and I started to hurry inside, Sam held back, wanting to stay and look at the beautiful sky a little longer. I remember realizing, as I stood outside with him watching the oranges and pinks in the clouds fade, that Sam's love of the natural world said a lot about what kind of person he was. He noticed and appreciated his surroundings! He seemed to find endless delight in the sky, the clouds, and the way the light fell on the mountains. And as we continued dating, I saw more and more evidence of his love for the natural world and his desire to seek after beauty in it. It was a big part of what attracted me to him and made me think we would do well together.

16 years later, we have not had a completely blissful marriage. We've learned that marriage requires great effort and patience and forgiveness. We've had periods of difficulty or busy-ness or preoccupation when looking at sunsets together has been the last thing on our minds. But when we've managed it, this looking upward, finding the beautiful together, has been one of the best parts of our marriage. The ability to talk about and appreciate the world around us in a similar way can bring us close in ways few other things can.

That's why I loved this passage from Elder James E. Faust's wonderful talk on marriage (read the whole thing!). He says:
In the enriching of marriage the big things are the little things. It is a constant appreciation for each other and a thoughtful demonstration of gratitude. It is the encouraging and the helping of each other to grow. Marriage is a joint quest for the good, the beautiful, and the divine.
In a marriage, it's hard not to feel disconnected from each other sometimes, especially when circumstances compel you to spend a lot of time apart, having different experiences and prioritizing different things. But the effort to make it a "joint quest" can bring us closer again. If I find myself without Sam when experiencing something lovely and profound—watching a lightning storm, seeing a shooting star, hiking among wildflowers—I almost feel like I haven't truly enjoyed it until I've at least told him about it! And when we make the effort to share one of these experiences together, the effects are deepened and enlivened because of the other person's presence. I love Sam's attention to detail, his knowledge of how and why the world looks and works the way it does, his curiosity, and his determination to seek out truth and beauty. When we find time to focus on it, our joint quest for "the beautiful" seems endlessly renewed and endlessly renewing.

I know Elder Faust didn't mean "beauty" in purely the literal sense. And I know people's preferences and interests vary. I don't suppose a mutual love of skies and flowers is essential to a good marriage (though I can't imagine there's anyone that doesn't find something fascinating in nature). I think my Sebastian finds "the beautiful" in a well-planned highway overpass or a smoothly-running irrigation system. But I think the point is to FIND it! Wherever you can. To seek and find the beauty and wonder in life, and to share that quest with your husband or wife. I hope Seb can find a wife who, if she doesn't already see it, can LEARN to see the wonder in those same types of things he loves. (As his mother, I've loved the enlarged attention and circle of interests that HIS interests, and my other kids', have brought me!) And I hope that Seb will do the same for his wife, because I know that will bring them both closeness and happiness. And since all goodness and all beauty come from God, a stretching toward those things will bring a marriage closer to the divine as well. I'm so grateful for the joy I find with Sam in this joint quest!

Other posts in this series:


  1. Well, I love these thoughts, but your poem!! It's AMAZING!! So Amazing! Why why are you not sharing more poetry. My jaw has dropped.

    1. Well...goodness! Thank you! I wish I was writing more poetry TO share. I know that you just have to make time for writing. And as...someone...said, "writer's block" really just means you're unwilling to write stuff that isn't good, and you HAVE to write stuff that isn't good in order to write stuff that IS good. I know all this, and yet I still just can't make myself sit down and try to write poetry! But it's so fulfilling when I do. So maybe...someday?


Powered by Blogger.
Back to Top