Thursday, March 8, 2012


It’s a subject that’s been everywhere I’ve turned lately.

What is beautiful?

Is beauty subjective or is it objective?

When I was younger my view of beauty was different. I see that same view when I look at my kids and their friends. They’re still young enough to have a un-jaded view of what is beautiful. That will change though. The world will teach them to look for beauty in a way that acclaims the unworthy object and overlooks the most precious of gifts. I know it will. I could try to stop it, but it wouldn’t work. But that’s ok, because I realize something else. That is a passing phase.

They will age and they will begin to see beauty in a new way. Not in the perfect form or most useful function, which can change over time and become obsolete. They’ll learn to see it a little like they do now. The enduring, the good, the noble, the hope amidst despair. Because there is beauty in pain, and beauty in sorrow. When that sorrow finds solace and that pain teaches endurance. There is beauty in the gnarled and weathered. If it is gnarled by age and weathered in triumph. I don’t have to stop them from seeing beauty the wrong way. They need to. If they never see it for what it isn’t then they won’t recognize the difference when they see what it is.

Would finding love feel like quite as precious of a gift to a heart that had never been broken? Maybe to some hearts. But I don’t think mine would have recognized it without the pain that taught it how.

As I watch my children, I can see what beauty is. Beauty is in the soul that gives itself freely and joyfully. Beauty is love that is shared. It is in the faces of all shapes, sizes and colors that shine with hope and kindness from the inside out. They see the differences. They’re not blind to them. Yet the differences are not a source of judgment. If anything they are there to expand the definition of beauty.

Beauty can be a scar, a limp, a breast that is gone. Beauty can be the sign which is left behind when the soul has been forever changed. Beauty can be found in a mind that thinks in pictures, not words. In a tongue that is large or a heart with a hole. Beauty is everywhere. It’s in a prison cell, with that spirit who finally understands and faces that understanding with fortitude. It’s in the first breath, as well as the last one.

As I get older I’m beginning to see beauty again. I mean real beauty. When I look at faces and see how they’re all different, I see something miraculous. Something beautiful. I see the smiles that come from spirits who have faced turmoil, temptation, sorrow, pain. I see a light inside many of them and I know it comes from another place, another strength. It shines through them, and it’s beautiful. I see ones without that light too. I see ones struggling to find it. Looking in themselves or others and hoping it’s there. I see their need and it is beautiful, because it is the manifestation of hope.

I just finished writing a manuscript that deals with a world where differences have been taken away. People have been perfected, and in perfecting humanity they somehow threw away themselves. Yet in that place, there comes a hope. Beauty is discovered, not in the things which are pleasing to the eyes, but in the things which give light to the soul. It’s not an easy change. It’s not always a change that feels good. Yet as I go back and edit the words that somehow fell into my laptop I’m surprised. There’s beauty there that I didn’t see the first time around. That beauty makes me look at my world a little differently. The faces, the struggles, the hope. The grace that holds us all, equally, in the midst of something wonderfully beautiful.

What unexpectedly beautiful things have you seen in your world today?

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