Duncan McDougall


An Allegory of Beauty

Imagine a great person, stronger than lions, wise as Mountains, more gentle than the light of dawn, whose words are clear as a stream and whose touch imparts life. Someone whose very presence fills you with awe, gladness, laughter and light.

Imagine that this person loves you. Loves you more than a comrade who fought in a war with you and saved your life. Loves you more than a mother who tenderly cares for you. More than a father who guides and firmly supports you. Loves you more than a spouse with whom you share intimacy and deep trust. What can you do but love that person back?

Now you go to visit this Person, the one who loves you. They live in a grand house. When you arrive the butler welcomes you. The butler informs you that the One who cares for you is otherwise occupied but will be with you in just a little while. So you wait in the lounge. Before long impatience seeps in and you begin to wonder around the room. You begin to notice the character of that Person all around you.

There is an arrangement of flowers on one of the tables. As you observe it you notice the care that the One who Loves you put into the arrangement. Each flower was carefully selected for its unique attributes, its fragrance and form. Each is set in a place that enhances the others and is most beautiful in itself. The overall effect is marvelous and the detail is stunning. The whole arrangement servers to stir in you the memory of the that Great Person who longs for you. Through this arrangement of flowers you gain a little glimpse of the richness of their character. As you consider it it becomes more beautiful because of your great Lover’s irresistible love. Joy wells up within you for seeing a glimpse of the One who Loves you, but oh, the delay is made less bearable with desire.

So you continue your pacing. In your pacing you come across a Vase. You know it is something dear to the One who Loves you because it is placed on the mantle piece in a place of Honour. Immediately it is dear to you too. How could you help it?

At the zenith of your pacing a man enters the room, you look at him and your longing is eased by the company. He walks up, considers the Vase and, suddenly throws it to the ground and spits on the pieces. That dear artefact is destroyed, you can only begin to think what that Dear Person will feel. Rage surges, you leap up and charge down the man, but he is gone before you reach him.

A pang of sadness wells up in you: this precious and beloved artefact is broken. So you set about to fix it as best you can, all the while waiting, longing, yearning to be with the One who Loves you.

But soon frustration finds you. You are not apt to fix the precious Vase. But as you work another person enters the room, he is also a friend of your Great Friend. You feel drawn to this man and you begin discussing the One who Loves you both: Who they are, and What they have done. He notices the work you had begun on the vase, and begins helping you. The work proceeds better together. In a matter of minutes you have become fast friends. Your friendship is based on the mutual love and work for the One who Loves you. The time comes for this new friend to leave. You cannot help but feel a sense of loss as you part, so the wait for your Great Friend becomes less bearable than ever.

And so as you wait you fall more and more in love with the One who Loves you. As you explore the room you see and learn. Every object, every arrangement speaks of them and is made richer because you know the Owner, the Crafter, your Great Lover. You are sure that if another, someone who did not love that Person, came in it would seem like an ordinary room, but to you it is glorious and wondrous, but it is also a trial as if it where a prison. For the One who Loves is not yet here and not everything is as it aught to be. But none the less you wait.