Saturday, June 20, 2009

Beauty is life, when life unveils her holy face.....

Beauty is really at the forefront of my heart and mind these days and so this blog continues some of the thoughts in my previous blogs and also responds to a  blog of a dear friend who did a "face plant" into beauty the other day.  (Check if out under my blog list.)  I recently picked up (again) "The Prophet" by Kahil Gibran and (again) I am left amazed by the depth of his wisdom and the beauty of his poetry.  I share with you some of his thoughts on beauty.  It is a little lengthy, bear with me, you really can't leave any of it out.  

"And a poet said, Speak to us of Beauty.  And he answered:  
Where shall you seek beauty, and how shall you find her unless she herself be your way and your guide?  
And how shall you speak of her except she be the weaver of your speech?

The aggrieved and the injured say, "Beauty is kind and gentle.  Like a young mother half-shy of her own glory she walks among us."
And the passionate say, "Nay, beauty is a thing of might and dread.  
Like the tempest she shakes the earth beneath us and the sky above us."

The tired and the weary say, "Beauty is of soft whisperings.  She speaks in our spirit. 
Her voice yields to our silences like a faint light that quivers in fear of the shadow."
But the restless say, "We have heard her shouting among the mountains, 

Low profit ProphetImage by Caro's Lines via Flickr

And with her cries came the sound of hoofs, and the beating of wings and the roaring of lions."

At night the watchmen of the city say, "Beauty shall rise with the dawn from the east."
And at noontide the toilers and the wayfarers say, "We have seen her leaning over the earth from the windows of the sunset."

In winter say the snow-bound, "She shall come with the spring leaping upon the hills."
And in the summer heat the reapers say, "We have seen her dancing with the autumn leaves, and we saw a drift of snow in her hair."

All these things have you said of beauty,
Yet in truth you spoke not of her but of needs unsatisfied,
And beauty is not a need but an ecstasy.
It is not a mouth thirsting nor an empty hand stretched forth,
But rather a heart enflamed and a soul enchanted.

It is not the image you would see nor the song you would hear,
But rather an image you see though you close your eyes and a song you hear though you shut your ears.
It is not the sap within the furrowed bark, nor a wing attached to a claw,
But rather a garden for ever in bloom and a flock of angels for ever in flight.

People, beauty is life when life unveils her holy face.
But you are life and you are the veil.
Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror. 
But you are eternity and you are the mirror."

As I read this, I think of three different relationships with beauty.  I'm sure there are more, but I will speak in broad strokes.  There was the time in our lives when we searched for beauty, when it is hard for us to find and it feels like a struggle to really feel it.  The world around us is material, it is real enough, but there is no depth to it.  We can stand on the edge of t

canyonImage by Wolfgang Staudt via Flickr

he Grand Canyon and we know that it is beautiful so we take picture of it, maybe even frame it, but no shift really takes place in the deep parts of us.  Our heart doesn't swell, our breath doesn't catch in mid-exhalation, a tear doesn't touch our eye.  The experience, leaves us unchanged.  We name beauty, we determine what it is and what it isn't.  

But gradually, as we begin looking, not only with our eyes, but with our spirits, we begin to really "see".  That shift does happen and we are nourished and renewed. And then we move into the stage in which beauty finds us.  We don't even look for her.  She is just always there.  Wherever we look.  This is the stage where my friend, Roy (he of the beautiful face plant), finds himself.  Beauty presents herself and he has no choice but to dive right in.  This is also the place at which my grey hair and wrinkles become every bit as beautiful as the perfectly smooth and delicately lit skin of my children. Hard to imagine isn't it?  

And Kahil Gabril tells us that there is a next stage.  A stage at which beauty needs no filtering through our senses or through our neuronal synapses, we don't process it in any way, shape or form.  It is not outside of us in any way.  Beauty is life and we are the life.  We are also the holy face.   

More and more I am living in the second stage though I'm still working on the wrinkles vs. my kids' perfect skin thing.  But frequently, my heart lifts at the gray skies of a gloomy day as much as it does when the earth presents itself with deep blue skies and bright sunlight.  Our long days of night during an Alaskan winter has a beauty that need not compare itself to the endless light of summer.  The rough bark of an old cottonwood tree that I have seen in my yard for 15 years speaks as loudly as the exuberant beauty of the deep purple and bright yellow giant bearded irises that I spent long moments gazing at in Oregon.  

Maybe some day I will touch this other place of beauty that the poet speaks about.  But, for today, I jump up and down in joy and gratitude for eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin with which to experience this miracle of earth and life.

What is your relationship to beauty?  Are you looking for her?  Has she found you?

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

How privileged you are....

"How privileged you are to see what you have seen."  This is the quote that sprang to my heart during a bible reading today.  How deeply I felt this line to be true.  I have seen such beauty and wonder in the world.  Certainly I see it in nature and in all that surrounds me.  If you live in a place as wild and majestic as Alaska you cannot miss it.  (Well, maybe you can, but that's another post.) But, I have also seen great and nearly incomprehensible beauty in the perfection and innocence of a toddler totally blissed out at being able to run away from his laughing parents.  I see people being kind and caring to each other every day, people who believe that the world is a better place when we make eye contact and smile or we let someone go ahead of us in the grocery line.  I see staggering beauty in the constancy of love relationships and the ongoing ups and downs of children growing up and finding their own way in life.  (My kids are 11 and 13 right now and some times when I look at them my knees get weak with the splendor of their becoming.) 

I have people in my life who share with me their deepest thoughts and challenges, their desires to bring about change in this world, and the conviction that they are called to be more loving every single day and I marvel at the miracle of spiritual growth.  Really, it is nothing short of a miracle that we ever wake up enough to see the truth about ourselves, about God in our lives, about the world around us.  I am grateful that we live in a miraculous world!  And then to watch us move forward, not in a sort of New-Year's-Resolution-I will-do-this-better sort of way.  But to move forward effortlessly because a shift has occurred at our deepest level.  Something that we said "yes" to at some point, but now, just is.  No going back because now we are new people.  

The more I experience, the more deeply I see and the more profoundly grateful I become.  Today, my desire and prayer is that I will look deeply and lovingly at whatever comes into my path, be it joy and ease or suffering and pain.  They are all my teachers and all a privilege.  

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Loving what Comes

For days I have been putting off renewing my driver's license. But today, my family was out of town, I was sick with a cold, and there wasn't really anything better to do than to go sit and wait my turn at the DMV.  I fortified myself with lunch at Tommy's Burger Stop, armed myself with reading material and got into line.  There was paper work to fill out, of course.  Very basic information that I knew right off the top of my head. Name, birthdate, height, weight.  None of those things have changed in between 15 and 46 years.  But the next question had me stumped.  It was: hair color.  My pen wavered over the paper.  I had always quickly written in BRN.  But, wait a minute, was my hair truly still brown?  I'm not sure.  When I look in the mirror I see pretty much the same color hair that I've always have. (Excluding those several years of highlighting.)  But when I see myself in a picture, especially from the SIDE, I am very grey.  BUT, am I MORE grey than brown?  I hemmed and hawed for a few moments and then wrote in the word grey.  I didn't even know how to abbreviate it.  

I think that almost all of us, men and women alike struggle with the process of aging.  And there are some ways that we can seemingly slow down the process with hair color and wrinkle creams, injections and surgeries, working out and eating well.  But, of course, time is relentless and there is no doubt that I am aging.  My hair is turning grey, my skin is getting saggy, and I have wrinkles in the weirdest places (There's this horizontal one between my nose and my upper lip. I never expected that one!)  Even if my abs were rock hard they would still be covered by wrinkly 46 year old skin.   

I made a decision a few years ago to not fight the greying of my hair.  I didn't want to do color and or highlighting, I wanted my own natural color and I thought that it looked really right with my skin.   It was also a deeply spiritual decision for me.  One of the reasons that there is so much stress and unhappiness in this world is because we struggle against what is.  I didn't want to view age as the enemy. And I certainly don't want to view my body as the enemy.  All of the parts of my body have been doing their job (and in my opinion doing it quite well!) for 46 years. My body and I deserve to show a little wear and tear.  We've been through a lot together. I am growing older and I am very grateful that I am still growing.  I am maturing.  I am becoming a wise woman.  I must affirm, nearly on a daily basis these days as I accept these changes in my life, that I will allow my maturity to show on my face, in my hair and on my skin.  

I realize that I don't just want to accept the changes that are coming with age.  I want to celebrate them and to love my physical self, to love the changes that I see in the mirror nearly every day.  

When my hair is not only

streaked with gray

but is gleaming  silver

from root to tip,


When wrinkles deepen

and my skin loosens

joints crack and my bones

ache with the weight of years,


When great age finds me,

I will be both more and less

Than I have ever been.


Then will I unfold

And my blooming will be so great

That my beauty will be

Terrible to behold 
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