We heard the word Ugliness and have been seeing it demonstrated over and over in the last weeks on the national political scene. Even the most experienced and enlightened are nonplussed at best, and most are horrified at the behavior and language choices on display in what is supposed to be the center of reasonable and moral leadership in our country. It is hard to overcome Ugliness–visually and aurally and emotionally–once we have encountered it. But I believe that Beauty is one way we can resist, defy and countermand that ugliness we meet.
Older versions of Hebrew Scripture tell us that God made everything Beautiful in its own time (Eccl. 3:11). So, I am seeking ways, in this time where so much Ugliness abounds, to see Beauty, to celebrate it and to share it. In this week of Thanksgiving I am cataloging Beauty as I find it:
- the music of Bach sung last night by the Los Angeles Master Chorale, “The Magnificat”
- the stalks of 12 white bearded iris that greeted me when arrived home from my trip last week
- the complete absorption in singing “Count You Blessings” by the little girl at the end of the row in the Children’s Choir
- the elegant and startling prose of Gretel Ehrlich as she invites me into a part of our country that is unfamiliar to me
- each step of newly minted personhood that each grandchild is taking he and she become who they are meant to be
- the sunset on Cayucos Beach, as I am wrapped up in sweatshirt and blanket
- the outpouring of generosity and caring and love that neighbors, friends and strangers are proffering to those devastated by fire and disaster
- the memories of a high school friend who left us this week–her joie de vivre, her persistence, her luminous laughter
- the faces of those with whom I sit weekly who are intently listening and looking for Spirit presence in their life
- the dignity and grace with which some participants in political striving carry out their calling, despite so much opposition
As I write I feel that the list is endless!!! Thanks be to God!
In an unexpected synergy of friendship and celebration, I was able to see the musical “Beautiful,” telling the story of songwriter and singer Carole King through her music. The title anthem has become my marching song in this season of celebration, deep grieving, of resistance, of call to be Light in the world:
You’ve got to get up every morning with a smile in your face,
and show the world all the love in your heart.
Then people gonna treat you better; you’re gonna find (yes, you will)
that you’re beautiful as you feel.
As the Beauty of the Holy One fills me with this invitation, I can be an increasingly potent antidote to the ugliness that seeps through the waves of of communication and discourse in our world. May I be given the Grace to be Beautiful in this season..and always!
Spirit presence…I like the phrasing and for me provides a deeper connection that ‘the presence of the Spirit.’
Having just glanced over the news where I am, I agree about the ugliness. But it’s amazing what beauty there is to see when you pause to be still.
Thank you for all of this — the surprise for me was that I felt the same way about the musical, seen one ? two years ago. got half priced single ticket and others said — oh, yeah, Carole King, but in fact I was deeply touched.
Elizabeth Nordquist said:
As was I. Gave me deep hope, and happy memories of being a young mom!
Late reading, but glad I did. This is where I find myself as well — hunting for beauty to celebrate, enjoy and remember real life by. I do it with my camera more often than not, a spiritual discipline of sorts. Always grateful to read your words.
Elizabeth Nordquist said:
Glad to be on the same journey, hoping to be buoyed by beauty.