After communion in an Orthodox Liturgy, the priest prays the “Prayer Behind the Ambo,” a prayer offered from the midst of the Church (more or less). It gives thanks for all that God has done for us, and asks blessings on His people. I particularly love the phrase that asks, “Sanctify those that love the beauty of Thy house. Glorify them in return by Thy divine power.”
I think in particular of God “glorifying us in return” by making beautiful with spiritual adornment the temple of our souls and bodies. Having within ourselves a love of beauty – and beauty properly understood – is an essential part of the spiritual life. This week, young children in our parish are enjoying “Vacation Church School,” which this year is centered around worship. Learning hymns, Bible stories, making things that are part of the beauty of worship (candles, incense, etc.) – all of it seems to me to part of nurturing a love of beauty within the souls of young children.
Interestingly, when Plato wrote his Republic, in which he imagined an ideal society, he included the need for instruction in music, for without this, he thought, the soul of a child would not be properly formed. It is a deep insight, though from outside the Tradition. But it is truly essential that we allow to be formed in us and in those we love a love for Beauty – for it is God Himself who is Beauty – that we find mirrored in the beauty around us.