Home > Blog > The World is Beautiful… and Ugly.

The World is Beautiful… and Ugly.

When I look around the world, I cant help notice the juxtaposition of what seems to be amazing, and what seems to be broken. The world works so well in so many ways, yet simultaneously it doesn’t. The human body is an amazing feat of engineering/evolution. Medicine has broadened my understanding of the human body, but it has also just revealed how little we really know about it. It seems the more we learn, the more we realise we need to learn! It is incredible how well the body works together in harmony to produce a living, breathing, feeling human being.

… except when it doesnt work.

Hannah and I recently went to do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in the central north island, we had spectacular weather, the days either side were miserable and raining, but on the day of the crossing, we had picture perfect blue skies. The walk was amazing, and the scenary spectacular (Click on the photo below to see the photos).

We couldnt help but marvel at God’s creation, at the beauty of it, and how amazing New Zealand is. I think we have particular appreciation for our own country after having travelled for a bit. There is amazing scenery overseas, but very often, we would think ‘we have this back in NZ… and its better!’.

Amongst all of this, we would make throw away comments about other things we want to do, like doing the whole northern circuit, cycling the Otago Rail Trail, walking some of the great walks in the South Island like the Milford, The Kepler, and the Heaphy. These are the kind of comments that get thrown around in day to day life for all of us. But it hit Hannah, and then me, of the significance of what were were saying.

How do you plan for future events and adventures when your future is uncertain?…

…and not uncertain in a ‘I don’t know where I will be be in years time’, but uncertain in a different way…

…Will I be alive in a years time?….

Hopes, dreams, plans, all shattered….. How do you live today when the future is at the very most, short, and at the least, gone altogether? My life, and my world, is both simultaneously beautiful and ugly. I can’t help but admire the beauty of the world, and lament the brokenness of it.

I have realised that this simultaneous juxtaposition is required for us to be able to appreciate either of these extremes. We need ugliness in the world in order to appreciate the beauty, and vice versa. Its through my ugliness, my brokenness that I now appreciate the world in a whole new light. Its my suffering that makes the world that much brighter, that much more colourful, and that much more worth living. It is cancer that has brought a whole new meaning to life, even if that life is much shorter than anticipated.

Conversely its the beauty of life that allows me to recognise the ugly; the injustice, the oppression, the suffering, the poverty, the needless loss of life, the insatiable greed for material goods. Recognising this does not empower me to better avoid it, but to better be a part of the solution of it. I think we instinctively use this recognising ability to avoid the ugly, instead of perhaps being the solution to it. Being the solution to the ugly and the brokenness…

That’s powerful…

… or even better…

… it’s beautiful…

Beauty and ugliness; the world works but it doesnt; both cannot exist without the other.

Thanks for listening.

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  1. Jo
    November 27, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    So true about how we need bad to appreciate good and we need ugliness to appreciate beauty. Your a wise man Mr Noel. Thanks for the constant reminder not to let this life pass us by. You inspire me to live more for the moment rather than the next thing which is happening in life. We miss so much by living the way we do. I love how much your blog grounds me again. Keep inspiring me my friend!!!

  2. rhys
    November 28, 2009 at 8:59 am

    love this jared!

  3. Wayne
    November 28, 2009 at 9:09 am

    Isn’t it ironic… the greater the brokenness, the greater the appreciation of that which is amazing and beautiful around us.
    Thank you for once again opening up and sharing Jared, it helps us step back and be still in a world that is rushing ahead at an alarming rate of knots.
    Jared I cannot help but consider the Psalm 23:1-4

    “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.
    He guides me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.
    Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

    It is easy to be open to the Lord’s presence when all is well in our lives. I praise the Lord that even when we go through difficult times… He Is there with us! I praise the Lord Jared, that as you walk through this valley… that you recognize that he is with you!!

  4. Luke
    November 28, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    In a phrase: I agree. Well put man, appreciate your insights.

  5. Grant Twentyman
    December 20, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    Thought-provoking, bro.
    Big respect.

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