BE THE BEAUTY

BE THE BEAUTY

I am writing in darkness with images of a thousand sunsets running through my head. What differentiates us as humans is noticing aspects of the physical world beyond the things we need for simple survival.

It strikes me that anyone can find beauty in a beautiful place. It is seeing beauty in the unbeautiful that is the magic. 

I have this overarching belief that all of life has a beautiful quality…and that sometimes the more intense, even hard the moment is, the more magnified that beauty becomes.

When my mama was very ill she was never without her lipstick. It would be easy for others to dismiss this as vain or maybe even trivial given how unnecessary it may have seemed under the circumstances…and the circumstances were pretty grim.

Did you know that the details of creation prove that God delights in beauty for its own sake?

The orderlies would wheel my Mama back to her room after some excruciating procedure and she would ask me to apply her lipstick while I walked alongside. As an artist, Jackie knew that bringing light [the essential quality of color] to a dark moment was necessary to magnifying the humanity in a situation so void of it.

What seemingly insignificant thing are you doing to bring beauty to your dark moments? 

We have this strange ritual of segregating our beautiful from our ugly, measuring and rating both and then putting them in boxes labeled according to our own limited experience.
But what if our “ugly” box is the very one intended to bring the most beauty to a given moment…or even more importantly, to the span of a lifetime or eternity? 

What if we have misjudged or miscalculated our difficult experience as one to be locked away instead of celebrated?

In College I invested a great deal of time studying death and dying. Without meaning to sound morbid, and actually quite the opposite, I have always been fascinated by how we spend our whole lives trying to avoid the admission of our own humanity [our own death] even to the degree that we leave that most sacred experience ignored, unplanned, undefined. Isn’t there some great power in looking at what will inevitably arrive and imagining it on our own terms? And even if we don’t have the gift of knowing the how or when, shouldn’t we be living out our days as a powerful crescendo to the final note? 

Every concert I have attended, every song I hear, is designed to build to a final chorus intended to draw me in and leave me breathless. 

My friend Mary in Morocco has lived through a long season of difficult days, woven one into the next like stitches in the vintage rugs she sells.
In giving me encouragement for what I am facing, Mary shared something that resonated with the woman I want to be more of…”Janene, for every procedure I would put on my makeup and dress up in style because through it all I wanted to be dignified.” 

Did you know that the root of the word, “Dignified” means to accept?
When we accept something hard, it doesn’t mean we agree to morph into its lowest aspect.
It means that we are called to infuse our most beautiful human qualities into the mix.

As I go through my own infusions, I covet the prayers that insert the power and hope and presence of LIFE into the unseen corners of who I am. For me, this is not some “woo woo” notion but every bit as real as the IV bag hanging just above my head. Strands of liquid color, weaving into a concoction of my own imagining.

Can it be true that the most beautiful thing we will ever encounter is hidden in the most unlovely? 

I heard it said once that our biological response to dread and excitement is nearly the same.
The rush of adrenaline. The obsessive thought. Even the queasy feeling in the belly.
Our bodies inform us that our emotional responses cannot be labeled and then appropriated for a given moment in time. They are fluid. Liquid. Mellifluous. 

Ours are not good days and bad. Or they shouldn’t be. To say, “I don’t know how I feel,” is the most evolved of all responses to a complicated world. But beauty? It’s everywhere and the seeing it…or not…is really a matter of refusal. 

Oh the glorious unseen beauty we miss when we relegate the best of ourselves to “happy,” “joyful,” “easy,” situations. Like French red lipstick down the sterile white-washed halls, may I agree…even will myself…to be the beauty I long for inside, and the beauty others desperately need to see in the world. 

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