10 Ways to Use Beauty to Kickstart Your Spiritual Life

The spiritual life has ups and downs. It is during the down times that we especially need help. Using beauty is a way that is less about your efforts and more about the outside making its way to your inside.

God gave us our five senses to absorb his beauty so that it can become spiritual.
Both sunsets and Cathedrals stir up positive emotions in us that points to God. One is his creation, the other was created for his glory.

Image sitting in these different settings: A smelly junkyard in a bad part of town. A waterfall in a forest cascading into a clear, moss-trimmed river. The inside of a church building with nothing on the walls and plain glass windows. A church of architectural magnificence with stained glass windows, statues, and a ceiling worth gazing upward for.

Although it is true that our spiritual life is about a relationship between us and God, when we need a lift, beauty can do that for us.

Here are ten ways to enhance our spiritual life by using beauty while having a conversation with God.

1. Find a beautiful church to sit in. If magnificent cathedrals feel overwhelming or there is none nearby, find one with simple beauty—a statue, painting, stained glass windows, stations of the cross, crucifix, or beautiful tabernacle that you can soak in while in the presence of God.

2. Use nature. Research shows that nature has a calming effect on us. Find a place to experience that—a forest, a mountain view, a creek, a garden…even a snow hill sparkling in the sunlight. Thank God for his care that he even provides for our senses.

3. Art. Go to a museum, watch a video about art, look up beautiful art in the library on the Internet, sit before a picture in your home that you enjoy. Consider the talent God gives to people so to give glory to him and enjoyment to us.

4. Music. There is a reason we say to “lift your voices.” Beautiful music seems to rise to heaven as it also lifts our spirits. Sacred music, glory and praise, choir, or beautiful symphonies, can lift our spirits to the harmony of our soul in union with God.

5. Books. Look back over favorite book that have lifted your spirit. The Bible is a good start. Ask friend what their favorite book are. Order books you have always wanted to read.

6. Find a beautiful prayer book. I thought of this one because I recently received the leather-bound, gilded-paged Mass & Adoration Companion by Vinny and Erin Flynn. It brought back memories of a beloved little prayer book I received for my first Holy Communion. The prayers and litanies—old, new, and from the Mass—offer spiritual beauty in a book that lifts the senses just holding and looking at.

7. Plan a pilgrimage to a holy site or take a car trip. Traveling to beautiful and holy places feeds the spirit and a sense of adventure at the same time. Since there are such places throughout the country, there may be something very near to you.

8. Watch an inspirational movie. There are endless stories, documentaries, and lives of the saints on video or online. Go here for 100 suggestions

9. Get a beautiful rosary. Of course, it is not necessary because prayer is communication with God from the heart. Sometimes, I grab a handy plastic rosary or use my fingers, but a beautiful rosary adds an element of enjoyment by engaging my senses.

10. Make a wish list of beautiful things you would love but perhaps cannot afford right now, from art, to statues, music, pilgrimage, beautiful rosaries and books. Start saving up or sell things you don’t need to pay for them, or at least have a list ready when someone asks you what you would like for your birthday.

Patti Maguire Armstrong, is the mother of 10, and has a B.A. in social work and M.A. in public administration. Her newest book is Holy Hacks: Everyday Ways to Live Your Faith & Get to Heaven. Others include Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families and the Amazing Grace Series. Follow her at @PattiArmstrong and read her blog at PattiMaguireArmstrong.com.