Beauty

There’s a breathtaking post on Daddy RoBlog today about beauty:

The truth is, I think we are always surrounded by beauty if we but have eyes to see it, if we’ll pause long enough to take it in. It is not so much the kind of beauty that can we can purchase or somehow create; it can only be discovered and cherished.

Do yourself a favor and read the entire post. It will only take a moment, and I’ll wait for you. Go ahead – click the link.

Okay, done? Wasn’t it a beautiful post? Now I have a story, and you probably aren’t surprised, because I always seem to have a story.

In December, life was pretty stressful. Our daughter Becca had just had one operation (repair of an asymptomatic tethered cord), and was about to have another (spinal fusion for pretty significant congenital scoliosis). We’d been waiting for the spinal fusion since May, and it had been scheduled and cancelled and rescheduled more times than we can count. We had the spinal fusion scheduled for November 1, but the MRI showed that her spinal cord really needed to be untethered first, so we had to rework everything to try to get it all done before the end of the year.

It was Friday, December 8. Becca’s surgery would be Tuesday, December 12. It was the day of her pre-op visit to the hospital, for her tour and anesthesia consultation and bloodwork and all. It was also the day of her school field trip to see The Nutcracker. Becca had been crushed to hear that she would miss it, based on her November 1 surgery date, and had been elated to hear that she would be able to go, based on the new schedule. We arranged things with her teachers to pick her up from the theater and take her to the hospital. Normally, picking up a child directly from a field trip site Just Is Not Done, but she’s in a wonderful program, with teachers who wanted to make sure she could do as much as possible with her classmates before her six-week recovery period.

It was very, very cold that day – unseasonably cold before our three straight weeks of unseasonable warmth. I was bundled up in my warmest coat, with hat, scarf, and gloves. Here in southeastern Virginia, I usually have a middle-weight jacket, with my gloves stuffed into my pockets just in case. I rarely wear a hat or scarf. But this day, I was bundled up against the cold and wind. I arrived at the theater about 20 minutes early – not wanting to risk being late and missing my chance to pick Becca up – and asked the security guards if I could please wait in the lobby until the ballet ended. They went a step further, and told me that there were some empty seats in the last row, and that I should go on in and watch the last 20 minutes. I thanked them and slipped inside.

It was so dark that I never did find those empty seats, but I stood next to the door and soaked up Tchaikovsky’s music. Within 30 seconds, there were tears streaming freely down my cheeks. At first, I was baffled. Art of any form rarely moves me to tears. Where was this coming from? By the end of that dance (Coffee or Tea, I forget which), I had my answer.

BEAUTY

This should not surprise you, given the opening of this post. I realized that I had not been experiencing enough beauty in my life, and that I needed to be much more intentional about bringing beauty in wherever I could. So since then, I make an effort to pay attention to the beauty around me. I inject beauty into my surroundings with music, poetry, quotations, images. I try to focus on the things that are beautiful and elegant and life-giving, and to just not devote my time and attention and energy to things that sap my spirit. And just as I am being more intentional about my “inputs,” I’m trying to be more intentional about my “outputs” as well. My lenten discipline of fasting from harsh words comes into play – there is enough ugliness in the world, so I am trying to avoid polluting the air with toxic words and thoughts. I am trying to be extravagant with gratitude and praise, and parsimonious with criticism and negativity. Some days, this is easier than others, and some days I fail miserably. But I keep on making the decision to get back up, dust myself off, and find something beautiful to catch my eye.May you find the “blessed life” that Rob mentions in his closing line. May you see the beauty that surrounds you – the beauty that is you – and may you feel blessed and loved.
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