The air breathes cool through the open window, wafts past the “clean cotton” Yankee Candle votive that releases just a hint of fragrance. The shrub sways in time with the bell rope, and a hummingbird buzzes at the feeder, hovers in place, sips and savors. A wasp with legs dangling wants in the garage and seeks entrance at the cracks of the closed door. Wee crabapples snuggle deep in branches, and I wonder if the waxwings will return. And will I see them if they do.

I’ve pulled out paints and pencils and art paper and ribbons and hot glue guns for Grace. She’s working at the white enamel Hoosier table in the kitchen with an ear tuned to the TV—Power Rangers, who use their gifts to save the world from evil.

She’s disgusted with her work. “I messed up big time. You can tell a kid drew this.”

I remind her that she seethes with creativity and that the great artists, like Leonardo Da Vinci, made great mistakes, and they worked with them, morphed them into art. I remind her she’s got her Father’s genes so she’s got the power to create beauty out of the mess and that we adults are often told to become kids to rediscover our own inner artist.

But this whole sin-stained canvas is a mess, and we muddle as best we can through the mud looking for beauty and truth in a world gone awry, in this place polluted with pain.

Life litters ugly, and hearts hurt, and suffering stabs deep with fractured families and AIDS and cancer and rape and war and murder and death and losses as numerous as grains of sand.

And sometimes truth towers tall, but sometimes it masks muddy, and flawed souls sift flawed evidence from flawed souls. They render judgments, and some walk free while some do not. And maybe our faith slides like a sand castle on the beach.

I change the station. A news anchor tells how dune sand swallowed someone’s son near Lake Michigan. He remained buried for three hours before rescuers resurrected him. And miracles still happen, and hope still lives, and beauty reigns.

Death tried to swallow Jesus, but it couldn’t hold Him. And His Father resurrected him three days later. And this sphere, I know, does not spin crazy out of control, but He confines it by love and saturates it with grace. And one day He’ll sift all hearts and render perfect judgment. He’ll make everything new, and there will be no more pain and no more tears and no more death.

And the earth will explode with glory.

Grace shows me her picture. She’s painted and glued bits of “litter” to it, and she’s named it “Trash into Beauty.” She’s signed it, “My Masterpiece by G.E. King.”

I’m sitting on the porch now. Leaves shimmer in the light. A long seed pod seems to sprout right out of stretch-marked bark of the tree next to me. The primroses have burst their boundary and planted themselves in the gravel drive. Crows (I think) carry on something crazy in the woods across the road, and a dragonfly suns itself on the railing.

The world, I muse, is still wild with wonder and wide enough to swallow the ugly if we’re still enough to see. And life’s littered with hurt, but beauty trumps trash, and there’s a fragrance of redemption in the air.

How do you cope with the ugly of life?

a world of wonder, and a fragrance of redemption

by Sandra Heska King time to read: 3 min