A Beautiful Array

Since we are in the season of Spring, I could not resist sharing this beautiful still life with you. It was painted by Dutch artist Hans Bollongier during a time known as “Tulip Mania.” In the 1630s, tulips were all the rage, especially the striped ones shown here. However, the bottom fell out of the tulip market in 1637 which resulted in many people going bankrupt due to speculation in tulip bulbs and the Dutch stock market crashed. Bollongier’s paintings were very popular in his time but his work was not appreciated by his contemporaries. Still life paintings were considered inferior to works of historical importance. Many critics believe this festive bouquet is a nod to mortality and the transience of earthly matters.

But it is not true to life. Tulips, anemones, roses, and carnation do not bloom at the same time. Therefore, Bollongier had to do a little manipulation to make this gorgeous arrangement. You can’t blame him—who doesn’t want to do what they can do to create beauty?

What kind of “manipulations” do we do to look good? After all, it is human nature to want to be thought of as attractive and pursuable. I have a tag on my bulletin board at work that says, “God is very fond of you.” Whenever I look at it, I smile. It makes me feel valued. I like the reminder that God likes me.

We often forget our value because of what the world defines as beautiful and pursuable. The cosmetic and clothing companies have made billions from our desire to be desirable. Images of beauty have been manipulated (thank you Photoshop) and what is considered beautiful for the world is overly dependent on outward appearances and unreal expectations.

Being Human connection: This puts us in danger of losing our true identity—which is a loved, cherished, and valued child of God. He is pursuing us every minute of every day. He just can’t help himself—because in his eyes, we are so beautiful and he is so fond of us. Use God as your mirror. Don’t let the world warp your view of yourself. His view of you is a more accurate and more beautiful rendition than we can ever hope for.

Here’s looking at you, beautiful!

Featured art: Hans Bollongier, Floral Still Life, 1639, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

For we are God’s masterpiece. -Ephesians 2:10

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. – Psalm 139:13-16