Why #100PicsOfBeauty

To kick off this blog post, here are the top 3 most liked of my #100PicsOfBeauty on Instagram:

#1 (two-way tie)

My housemates and I hosted a small Memorial Day gathering at our house, and we hung an American flag like this while we were grillin’ and chips and salsa-ing.


#1 (two-way tie)

One of my housemates purchased this statue of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and she watches over our front yard. I’m referencing Genesis 3: 15 in the caption.


#2

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(17) A St. Michael the Archangel sunset #100picsofbeauty

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My Knights of Columbus council has a hall, and in front of the hall is this statue. I was stopping by at my youth group’s softball practice when I noticed a dramatic looking sunset from the other side of the hall. Someone suggested to me that  I should go to the other side of the hall and take the picture, but then I noticed (for the first time?) that this statue exists. Couldn’t resist.


#3 (three-way tie)

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(44) Frozen roses #100picsofbeauty

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We had some crazy weather back in December 2013 where it was still relatively warm, but got immediately cold and icy. Early on, we had freezing rain after some warm weather so that’s why the roses are still vibrant but now iced over. 


#3 (three-way tie)

My parents and I visited family up in Canada last summer by meeting up with them in Vancouver. I got to see various sights around Vancouver, including a famous suspension bridge at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park north of Vancouver. This is a view from the bridge.


#3 (three-way tie)

One of the benefits of driving so freakin’ far away for work was finding out about a really beautiful German-style painted Catholic church in north Texas. I wanted to pray here before lunch so I went in, but heard a buddy of mine practicing sacred music upstairs at the organ in the choir loft. So I went up there, and noticed how cool the organ looks.


And why would I do such a thing, taking 100 pictures on Instagram regarding beauty?

Back in 2013, I had this crazy idea of registering for a young adult conference that was to happen right after I returned from my trip to Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day. Like, arrive home Wednesday, go to work Thursday and Friday, and starting on Friday night attend this conference for the rest of the weekend. No rest for the weary.

The keynote speaker for the conference was Gene Monterastelli. He’s a Catholic speaker, storyteller, and writer. Most of the content of his keynotes were about how he navigates through life in practical Catholic ways. In particular, he talked about the 2012 presidential elections and how he noticed social media (Twitter specifically) had become a toxic forum regarding those elections. He was really bothered by that, so he decided he would inject some sort of antidote to combat the toxicity of discussion online.

His answer was #100tweetsofbeauty.  Simply just a tweet highlighting a beautiful moment or experience, online or in the real world. You can check out his #100tweetsofbeauty here.

After the conference and listening to him speak, I was inspired myself to do something similar. The late summer of 2013 didn’t have any particular dramatic controversies, scandals, or The Next Worst Thing Ever™.  At least, not that I can remember. Rather, I wanted to start something similar in order to combat the toxic ways I, myself, view the world sometimes.

So that’s when I decided to do #100picsofbeauty on Instagram (and shared via Twitter and Facebook). I like taking pictures, and I used no filters when capturing these moments. Anything that gave me pause and at least a brief sense of awe, wonder, and transcendence, I captured on my Instagram. Because that’s what beauty can do: bring about a sense of awe and wonder in a transcendent way.

It took me from August 2013 to November 2014 to complete it. Most times, a beautiful moment presented itself to me making it easy to capture that moment on Instagram. But there were a few times where I really had to stretch and seek beautiful things out. I realized just now as I’m writing this that beauty is all around us, but only if we are open to it and are looking for it are we able to acknowledge it. And respond to it.

As I was doing the preparation for this blog post (like making a spreadsheet of Like counts from Instagram per picture (omg, I accidentally did #47 twice (#101picsofbeauty))), I began to remember those moments and how awesome they were at the time.

I would say my personal mission to combat the toxic ways I view the world is a success. Doing #100picsofbeauty allowed me to pause and really reflect and contemplate on the beautiful moments of life, even in the littlest and trivial-est of things, that I would have otherwise bypassed without much thought.

We live in such a culture today that teaches people to seek pleasurable things, indulge in it briefly, and move on. But the problem with that is that it doesn’t teach me to really be consumed by authentic beauty that transcends (ie. that lasts more than a brief moment). My life is not a series of sensations, but a work to be accomplished and getting lost within the beauty of this world. That sense of infinite resonates within my being and helps me understand that there’s more to this life than simply what I observe and experience. After doing this at least 100 times, now I’ve formed a better habit to seek beauty.

So, I’ll return to my normal scheduled Instagramming, but I challenge you, dear reader, to take moments to pause and acknowledge the beauty happening in your life. Feel free to use the hashtag #100picsofbeauty (if you take pictures) as I’m the only one on Twitter who has used it so far.

“Beauty will save the world.” -Dostoyevsky, The Idiot
– JD