A Beautiful War: An Essay on Pain and Beauty

Note: I don’t usually post creative writing on this blog, but I felt compelled to share this piece with you. If you like it, I may share more. Feel free to give me your honest feedback.

“This is a beautiful war,” she said with her eyes, as we stood in the hallway, both saying goodbye.

And I realized this was how we live our lives.

There is a Beautiful War raging inside of us. It is the story of our world, the story of our lives.

A Beautiful War
Photo credit: Flickr (Creative Commons)

It’s worry and wonder, awe and impulse. It’s the first day of school and the final breath. A baby’s strained peas and a killer’s last meal.

It’s the pain we are trying to escape, the suffering we are trying to numb.

We see it; we sense it. And yet, it eludes us: the conflict of heaven and earth crashing together on this glorious battlefield, a playground of bruised and battered dreams — all in a climax of grace and redemption.

When we were young, we were told that Evil would be vanquished, that Good would prevail. In innocence, we believed that Good was enough.

But no one ever told us this would hurt,
that it would cost us our lives.
That there’d be no going back.

No one ever told us about the War. The beautiful calamity. The tragic victory.

It’s tectonic plates and midnight brawls.
Laughter and lies —
and somersaults.

It’s a walk in Central Park,
lonely hikes down haunted highways.

It’s anxious thoughts and baited breath;
white hoods and chocolate faces —
and blood stains on a wedding dress.

It’s a chuckle through a sneer and bravery through tears.

This is our War. This great epic, unceasing drama.

And here we are — caught in the middle, with God on one side and the Devil the other. They whisper truth and lies and we can’t tell which is which.

The skies rage; the seas scream. And our souls search for beauty.

Lightning crashes in a starless void, while we wait for something true. Somewhere deep within the Mystery.

This is the War we cannot see — that gets ignored by sitcoms and reality TV. This is the scene we all must notice — with open eyes and hearts, willing to break.

We must choose:

To ignore the fight.

Or to stop, pause, reflect.
And dare to dream again.
To imagine a world without the War.

Maybe. Some day. But not now. We sigh and scoff — all in the same breath.

If we’re honest with ourselves, we have to admit. We are more than spectators in this War.

This battle is one we’re fighting not only on the outside.

This is a travesty we’re causing and contributing to. We, the soldiers. We assassins of Beauty.

This brokenness lives inside. It’s what breaks hearts and destroys love. It’s what makes life horrible and beautiful at once.

It’s the apparition of our days and the dreams of our night.

Because out of ashes broken wings fly.
Out of the furnace comes gold —
dripping with dross and shining with glory.

And light begins to dawn in the dark.

Maybe, just maybe, this is not all there is:
this wonderful War of beauty,
this glorious tragedy.

Maybe our vision is clouded by cannon smoke. Maybe our wounds are more than cruel scars. Maybe the War is, in fact, a story.

Maybe there is yet more to see.

This post was inspired by the music from Carl Dylan’s upcoming EP A Beautiful War. You can get it for free (but feel free to tip!) on NoiseTrade. Click here to find out more about the Kickstarter project.

To share your own essay on pain and beauty, leave a comment and use the Twitter hashtag #abeautifulwar.

What is your Beautiful War? Share in the comments.

*Photo credit: Alex E. Proimos (Creative Commons)