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Beauty Is a Signpost to God's Truth

One day, rummaging through a dusty old attic in a small Austrian town, a collector comes across a faded manuscript containing many pages of music. It's written for the piano. Curious, he takes it to a dealer. The dealer phones a friend who appears a half hour later. When he sees the music, he becomes excited, then puzzled. This looks like the handwriting of Mozart himself. But it isn't a well-known piece. In fact, he's never heard it before. More phone calls. More excitement. More consultations. It really does seem to be Mozart. And though some parts seem distantly familiar, it doesn't correspond to anything already known in his works.

But [the manuscript] seems incomplete. There are gaps in the music. Just where it seems to come to a climax, it seems to stop and then pick up again later. Gradually the truth dawns on the excited little group. What they are looking at is indeed by Mozart. It is, indeed, beautiful, but it's the piano part that involves another instrument or perhaps other instruments. By itself, it is frustratingly incomplete. It is a signpost to something that once was there and might still turn up one day.

That's the position we are in when we are confronted by beauty. We stand before a great painting. When you stand before the most amazing sunset or when you see the beauty of a human face, whether it's a little baby or a lovely wise old person, there is a haunting quality to it, as though it's not just complete in itself. It's a signpost to a larger truth that is just around the corner, just out of sight. We can't grip it, can't get our hands on it. It's as though we're hearing the echo of a voice, and we'd love to hear whose that voice is and what story it's telling. Part of the joy of beauty is the realization that it is part of a larger whole, most of which appears to be just out of sight. We are drawn forward toward something and left waiting, wondering.

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