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Beauty First / Watchword for 2024

A watchword encompasses a central belief or aim of an individual or group. It names the focus of our attention (our watching) and our commitment to wait and be open to encounter. In its deepest sense, a watchword arises out of and is oriented toward encounter with God. We are pleased to share with you that Kinship Plot’s watchword for 2024 is Beauty First.

What do we mean by beauty first? When we were born our experience of the world preceded our understanding and action. The world in all its sounds, colors, textures, smells, and tastes flooded our senses, and the force of all that beauty shaped our notion of what is true and good. As we grew, however, knowing and doing started playing a bigger role, and if we are not careful, fixating on truth and goodness can easily eclipse the joy of being in the world and encountering beauty.

A beauty first approach aims to recapture the importance of experience, desire, wonder, and resonance in relationship with God, each other, and the rest of creation. Taking a beauty first posture does not diminish the importance of truth and goodness, but it reframes them according to what allures and marvels us. Beauty first acknowledges that grace and truth often follow in the wake of encountering glory.

A wise theologian once wrote that whoever ignores beauty will eventually discover that they are no longer able to pray or love. In this season, therefore, we want to open ourselves to beauty first in order to expand our capacity to pray, love, and receive the truth. To encounter beauty first requires slowing down, paying attention, and being fully present. A beauty first life is what poet-philoospher John O’Donohue called a journey of reverence and discovery where you can “take your time and be everywhere you are.”

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