Beauty Will Save the World

The quote “Beauty will save the world” from Dostoevsky’s The Idiot is often misunderstood to mean the surface appeal of things matter most. So long as the world around you looks lovely, the world is alright.

Boots on the ground, this idea looks more like recognizing the actual beauty in all things, even if they don’t seem lovely at first glance. It means choosing to believe, even during the ordinary liturgy of living life, that beauty is there, underneath the cracked surface of all we see.

When we choose (because it’s indeed a choice) to recognize the inherent beauty in a creation bestowed by its Creator, we have within us the capacity to be saved from the pull of despair, the desire to anesthetize with mediocre, the yearn to YOLO. That’s astounding.

Life is beautiful, even with its many cracks. Leonard Cohen once penned, “There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” We know of the relief of sunshine because of endless gray days. We know of the ordinary magic of light switches because of thunderstorms that temporarily zap its power. We know of contented days of laundry folding, the pleasure of quiet drives on windy farm roads, and the gift of a drink with a friend because of dark nights of the soul.

There is a sacramental nature in all good things because that’s how earthly life works. Thanks to our divine Maker, we’re given the gift of witnessing beauty, goodness, and truth everywhere we look, if only we choose to put on those glasses.

This blog has been a gift to me. I started it on a whim with a newborn cradled in my arms, and two days ago that baby turned thirteen. Within those years, I learned how to write for others, write for myself, develop the calluses required to learn from readers and ignore trolls, and marvel at the wonder of how we can even connect at all across time and space. There’s a dark underbelly to screens and social media and the internet, but today, as I write this last post, I’m choosing to see its beauty.

(Me, working on this very space in 2010)

I’m so very grateful for anyone who read nothing more than a paragraph on this space. I’m grateful for the loyal readers who’ve been here since day one, commenting and subscribing and supporting. I’m grateful that I’m not the same person I was at age thirty when I started it. I’m grateful for the late nights of hard work, the early mornings of broken plugins, comments to moderate, and expectations to not meet. These all have made me a better human.

Mostly, I’m thankful for the friends I’ve made. Cliché and yearbook, but it’s true. I can’t count all the good souls I’m fortunate to know because I hung up an open sign here back when blogs were the newest rage. If beauty does indeed save the world, this was a remarkable way it happened in my life.

I’m not going anywhere. I plan to write even more in my newsletter (but not too much; don’t panic), I hope to find more time to pen more books, fingers crossed one day there won’t be a global plague and we can enjoy another pilgrimage to London, and as early as next week I’ll be back with a new podcast episode.

(In fact, I’ve got a really good announcement on the pod coming your way soon. Make sure you’ve subscribed so you don’t miss it.)

I’d love to stay connected with you — I’m more active on Twitter than Instagram, but either are fine. My most dependable correspondence comes via 5 Quick Things, my short free email I send out most Fridays. I’m currently working on renovating my vintage-trailer-turned-backyard-writing-cabin I’ve christened Josephine March, and I’d love to show you to her.

That’s where I hope you’ll find me over the next few years — writing inside while I watch the backyard chickens graze and our neighbor leaves another plant on the shared stone wall for us to try in our garden, walking our dog Ginny to the coffee shop across the street, in the classroom doing my best to convince teenagers that Jane Eyre is magic, and guiding you to the pub in Oxford where Tolkien and Lewis workshopped stories over beer.

It may not make me glamorous, wealthy, or social media-famous, but I choose to believe beauty will, indeed, save the world.

Thank you for being part of that.

(The baby I carried the year I started this blog, back in our kitchen in Turkey)
(My clan earlier this month, my blog baby giving me bunny ears 🤯)

xoxo, Tsh

top photo: New Zealand in 2014, its beauty making me cry daily

Reading Time:

3 minutes

 

 

 

31 Comments

  1. Katherine Willis Pershey

    A beautiful benediction for a beloved space. Blessings to you, Tsh – and thank you.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Right back at you, friend — thank YOU.

    • Jane Georgiades

      Tsh – I have so loved AoS! You have given me calm and perspective in the chaos of life. Thank you for the beautiful light that you shine on this world. Xx

  2. Amanda G.

    What a beautiful send-off. Tsh, I discovered your blog in 2008 when I had a newborn. This space, more than anything else, got me through those long nights and endless days. I’m so excited to see where else you go on your journey, and I will continue to soak up all of your encouragement and wisdom as I did in those early days. Pax Tecum.

    • Lucy, UK

      Happy new year Tsh. I’ve finally subscribed via Patreon as I’m sad AoS will be no more and I’ve benefited so much from your gentle words over the years of juggling work and motherhood with an eye on intentionality. Cant wait to see pics of Josephine 💚

  3. Alysa Bajenaru

    So grateful for this space and for the gift of being a small part of it over the years. Thank you, Tsh.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Grateful for your time here, Alysa, and glad to know you!

  4. Katy Walton

    Tsh, thank you for hanging up that open sign. I’ve often felt alone in my naïveté and desire to never grow up as an adult. In so many ways, you and the whole AoS family (writers and podcasters) have shown me it is possible to fully embrace an adventurous life while also embracing/accepting adulthood. I’m 28 but still feel 24 in many ways. Thank you for laying out a trail for those of us coming after you. I’m so excited to see what you do next.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Thanks, Katy!

  5. Anne

    Congratulations on AoS, Tsh. Looking forward to your next chapter.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Thank you!

  6. Meredith Cox

    What a wonderful gift this space has been to me since I first found it in 2009. I haven’t always commented, but I’ve always felt at home here. Whether a perfectly timed (eerily perfect) post about something that was also happening in our lives, a new idea, or just a quick dose of encouragement to enjoy the simple things, the words of every writer have given what was needed. Thank you, Tsh, for letting yourself try new things both then and now. Here’s to more beauty, more adventure, and more light breaking through!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Thanks, Meredith! It’s been a delight getting to know you the past few months… Here’s to more neighborhood coffee dates! ☕️

  7. Dorothy

    As a “mature mom” (kids from 32 to 15) and a writer finally choosing to release her words into an electronic/internet world that I’ve spent the last 2 decades curating for personal and family sanity, the AoS and you have been a sweet beacon. My life looks like no other and I have been encouraged by your writing to choose to speak my simple truths in simple ways and then let the words live their own lives. Looking forward to following your next adventures.

  8. Emily Lex

    Congratulations on a job very well done. On ending well. On allowing all the bad to fall to the bottom so you can claim the good. So grateful for your voice and leadership and curious spirit. Xoxo.

  9. Mary Carver

    Tsh, I am so very glad you created this space. Mostly because it led to me knowing you and getting to call you friend. But also because I have learned much here and been inspired frequently. Thank you. I’ll still be reading your newsletter and following along as you move into your next adventures, and I sincerely hope we can chat again sometime soon. Happy New Year!

  10. Rebecca

    Thank you for creating beauty in this little space. All the best!

  11. Christine Bailey

    Beautiful last words in this space. Thank you, Tsh, for everything.

  12. AnneMarie Miller

    Thank you so much for creating this space! Reading it is always a breath of fresh air for me. I’m excited to see what you continue to bring into the world!

  13. Andrea

    Thank you for all your words over the past years. I found you in 2009 and you have been my gateway to many others with words to share. And thanks for not going anywhere! Looking forward to the future with you.

  14. Aimee

    Your blog came along the same time I had our first child. She is 13. We lived outside of DC at the time and I loved many things about our life but I missed the simplicity of how I had grown up in rural Arkansas. Your writing and this blog shone a light on what I already knew but needed help seeing – that life doesn’t have to be complicated and how to go about making it less complicated.

    It feels selfish to say I’m sad because of course this is YOUR blog so you should do what is right for you. But I am sad. It feels like a pretty big ending to me because of both the timing (beginning of my own motherhood journey, said child is starting high school this year – WHAT?!) and because your writing has been a gift. So, thank you.

    I do have one question that I’ve never asked, though, if you could humor me (us?) with an answer. When I first started reading, you did not share about where you lived and were (by my recollection which could be wrong!) cryptic when you would share things about your daily life outside your actual home. I used to have a narrative in my head that you and your husband worked for the State Department or were actually spies – clearly a little TOO much time home alone with a newborn. But getting to the question part…I now know you were doing philanthropic work but would you mind elaborating on why you weren’t free to share where you were at the time? And if this is too nosey – IGNORE! 🙂

  15. Caroline Starr Rose

    So glad our paths crossed on your journey! Let’s keep in touch.

  16. Lisa

    Thank you…❤️

  17. Shelley

    I adore the 5 things email every friday and look for it!

    Love your poignant sense of style and your tender heart.

    Keep writing:)

  18. Clare

    Congratulations on the end of an adventure and the beginning/continuation of others! I’ve read your work on and off for years – your money advice changed our financial life, and I also learned that it was OK to take or leave things (“no ‘poo” is not for me, haha). May God bless you richly, thank you for all your hard work on here, and I will hopefully find you in other places 🙂

  19. Robin Dance

    I still recall the first time I met you, actually, the second time within the first time, where I didn’t recognize you from shortly before (you were lying on a bed on your back and I was looking at your face upside-down. I doubt you remember this 🙂 ). As providence would allow me to get to know you, I found you to be a friend I could learn from, someone who continually surprised me in the best of ways. It is with great joy I’ve watched you meander a path in life and vocation; and now is no different. A new day brings new life!

    Though we don’t share the same space we once did, I know that when our paths cross again, we’ll pick up as if a comma ended our last sentence <3.

  20. Rebekah

    Tsh, what a wonderful sentiment. I stumbled upon the blog when it was art of simple, back in 2008 I think, before I was even a mom. I loved that there was so much there for me even when I hadn’t entered motherhood yet. I have followed the blog and emails for years, and have loved your podcasts and books. Most recently, women’s work was my favorite podcast as it shed light to so many different people. It was awesome to see women highlighted who work outside the home, like myself, when so many bloggers only highlight other bloggers or entrepreneurs. I have found so many great podcasters (pantsuit politics!) from your podcasts, and just enjoy your writing and perspective in general. You help keep us all grounded.
    Thank you for this blog, and thank you for continuing to share your perspective and world! I am excited to finally joining books and crannies this year and can help support your efforts.
    Just thank you! 🙂
    -Rebekah

  21. Jamie

    So blessed to know you and to have been blessed by your work for so many years! xo

  22. Jen C

    I’m so thankful for the beauty of this space. It brings hope & peace to my soul. 🙂 (I also had my first kiddo at age 30, and he also just turned 13!)

  23. The Keen Reader

    I am deeply thankful and blessed to know you and your work.

  24. Sara Roadman

    Thanks so much for this blog and all your years of podcasting. I have been a reader and listener since 2009.♥️ I have so enjoyed your words over the years. Sara in Eugene, Oregon

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