• By: Myka Burke

Dialogue with the Diversity of Beauty

What do you think is beautiful? Why does beauty matter? How can we share our ideas around beauty with one another? How can we connect better to one another? These are just a few of the questions Reverend Trisha Elliott of Southminster United Church in the Glebe asked herself one morning, waking up yet again to disturbing news headlines. She wanted to change the conversation from one of fear to one of hope and support.

Reverend Elliott has been following academic research on how deeply reflecting on beauty affects us and what the mechanics of this process are. She was inspired by this possibly profound effect and decided to create a series of services around it during Lent. The Beauty Series, as she named it, happens Sundays at 10:30 AM in the bustling cultural hub that is Southminster United Church. Currently, they have over 70,000 visits each year. That number will surely grow as they expand their cultural programming.

The Beauty Series services are structured each week around exploring beauty. Beautiful sacred texts from other religious groups are read by someone from that group, this coming Sunday March 26th it will be Yajurveda and Rigveda, sacred Hindi texts. The reader identifies as both Hindu and Christian. Art by prominent international artists will be discussed, reflecting on spiritual aspects of the work. Last week they looked at Claude Monet’s Water Lilies. Local artists from a wide variety of backgrounds have been sending in their photos of what they consider beautiful. Refugee 613, for example, sent in a photo of a job fair for refugees. There are reflections on landscape, architecture, rituals, people and so on.

Music is performed during these services, usually involving a performance on their concert grand piano. Reverend Elliott includes a brief philosophical reflection on beauty and spirituality. Last week she reflected on scripture as literature and why art has been divorced from theology. This week she will explore themes of displacement via Marc Chagall’s Over Vitebsk. She feels: “there is much to be gleaned from his work that directly applies to the massive displacement and prejudice so many are experiencing today.”

What: The Beauty Series
Where: Southminster United Church, 15 Aylmer Ave.
When: Sundays during Lent at 10:30AM
Info: http://www.southminsterunitedchurch.com/