You are so beautiful to me, can’t you see; You’re everything I hoped for, everything I need – You are so beautiful to me…
Imagine if we all grew up hearing that song sung to us…
– J.B. Priestly
She was not pretty, but she might have been handsome if somebody had kept telling her that she was pretty.
In a recent movie, Johnny Dep was convinced he was Don Juan… he told Marlon Brando, his therapist, that the reason he was so attractive to women was — because he saw into the inner beauty of all women and in his seeing that, they saw it in themselves and actually became beautiful.
The song: How could anyone ever tell you, you were anything less than beautiful– touches most people I know very deeply. Most of us haven’t had a lot of people in our lives telling us how beautiful we are… In fact, most of the messages we have gotten from our families, our Churches, our music, our media – tell us that we don’t quite measure up.
Last year, when choosing the quality of God to focus on – I chose Beauty. Or – I should say, BEAUTY chose me… because when I looked at the list, it jumped out at me and said – PICK ME — it’s time you worked on this…AND I DID…
Many of you have heard my story – but it bears repeating here — I grew up surrounded by all my Italian relatives – and my best friend – other than my sister, was my cousin, Terry who happened to be a redhead. Now, everywhere we went, people would stop and say to or about Terry – Isn’t she beautiful? I, standing next to her, was convinced that I must be chopped liver –( I never really wanted to say ugly). On the other hand, people would always say of me – she’s so smart… My cousin decided there and then that she must not be! – isn’t it amazing how we make assumptions from what we choose to hear?
Anyway – no little girl wants to be SMART…girls are supposed to be BEAUTIFUL – so, I spent a good deal of my life trying to PROVE that I wasn’t smart… That’s one of the reasons that I went and got 3 masters degrees and two doctorates! My cousin on the other hand, never went to college, convinced that she was destined to use her beauty instead of brains – she married 3x…I never did – didn’t think I was beautiful enough for anyone to want me…
One day, in graduate school, I was upset and crying about something – I can’t remember what – and the head of the Adult Education department at Columbia University came over and put his hand on my shoulder and said, “I can’t imagine why someone so smart and so beautiful could be so upset.” At that moment, I came to recognize that I had made smart and beautiful an EITHER/OR. It was as if he instantaneously wiped about years of pain.
Thank God, today, I can now look myself in the mirror and sing…. “You are so beautiful to me”… and in fact, I can’t help but look at all of you and say the same thing… FOCUSING on Beauty as a Quality of God has made an enormous difference for me — Whatever we focus on increases. I see Beauty in all people I meet – I see beauty in nature and even in the circumstances of life that I would have previously called CHALLENGES. There’s an exquisite BEAUTY in the way life is ordered. You see, whatever quality you focus on, you get to Focus on GOD instead of where you think there is a lack or limitation, and so you get to see Infinite Potential everywhere.
And, beauty is so much more than physical appearance.
Of all the definitions of Beauty that I found in my research, the one that appeals to me most is by a man named George Bancroft : Beauty itself is but the sensible image of the infinite.
Webster’s Dictionary defines Beauty as “Pleasing to the eye; felicity, especially of appearance; graceful or balanced structure; aesthetic perfection “
There’s a lot of emphasis here on the senses – on appearance – …. Today, I want us to stretch our knowing and recognize that to really understand Beauty, we need to SEE not only the appearances, but BEYOND appearances. (actually, that’s how we get to understand God, or Good as well….it’s all about our ability to see beyond appearances! )
Most of us have heard the cliché – Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder… today I want to encourage us to look with new eyes. Let’s change PLEASING TO THE EYE that we see with –to PLEASING TO THE “I” that we are
Ask yourself – how often is the person’s appearance a reason that you admire them? What do you think are the most important attributes a person can have? What would you like another person to most admire in you?
The prophet, Kahlil Gibran, once said: Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror. If you only see with your senses, you’ll miss so much of the Beauty of life.
In speaking of Poetry, Percy Shelley once said: Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar.
What eyes do you see with? Is your life focused on what the senses tell you – or what you sense beyond the senses?
The classical musician, John Cage, once said: The first question I ask myself when something doesn’t seem to be beautiful is why do I think it’s not beautiful. And very shortly you discover that there is no reason.
And the English painter, John Constable : I never saw an ugly thing in my life: for let the form of an object be what it may – light, shade, and perspective will always make it beautiful.
American author, poet and philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson said, Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.
Children start becoming judgmental of physical beauty at an extremely young age. All the fairy tales tell us that the Princess or heroine is beautiful and the BAD person or the witch is always UGLY.. Kids are always fighting to be included with the people that make up the “in crowd.” Typically these groups of popularity are the beautiful people and they shun anyone who doesn’t match up to whatever standard of beauty that they have set. Anarexia and bulimia have become commonplace among teenagers.
We have a society that caters to the extremely beautiful, The media does not help this situation at all. Television constantly portrays beautiful people in the shows and in almost every commercial between the shows. It is almost exactly the same with magazines. The media is, and probably always will be, unless something drastic changes it, the biggest pusher of beautiful model type people.
If something or someone isn’t seen as beautiful, TV is filled today with reality shows that show you how they can be. Have you seen all the shows about makeovers? – You can have a room made over, a house made over, then there is Queer Eye on the Straight Guy, where 5 gay men help a straight man impress his woman by fixing his apartment, his hair, his clothing, the way he cooks, walks, well, just about everything. Then, there is the popular show, called “Extreme Makeovers”. Have you seen it? The people on the show are men and women who are not happy with their physical appearance and they are set up with all kinds of doctors and make-over artists. These people make complete changes, plastic surgery, liposuction, breast implants, hair, makeup, clothing. It’s a show that reveals how much pain people have when they identify themselves with their form.
The popularity of the show speaks of the resonance in people everywhere for the aspects of the fairytale archetype. The longing to be beautiful.
Little Johnny watched, fascinated, as his mother smoothed cold cream on her face. “Why do you do that, mommy?” he asked. “To make myself beautiful,” she replied as she began to remove the cream with a tissue. “What’s the matter,” asked little Johnny. “Giving up?”
We don’t need cold creams, extreme makeovers or face lifts – what we need is a FAITH LIFT
Albert Einstein once said: The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.
Wrapped in awe and wonder – when was the last time you let that happen? When was the last time you took time out to notice something beautiful? Remember – what we focus on increases — Spend time each day NOTICING beauty around you and let it touch you… Helen Keller tells us, “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.”
So, to cultivate the Quality of beauty, we need to look beyond the physical and take time every day to as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said: hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of your life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul. ~
Walt Whitman tells us A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books. ~
And once again – Ralph Waldo Emerson : Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting — a wayside sacrament. Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every flower, and thank God for it as a cup of blessing.
Chinese proverb: When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other.
If you truly love Nature, you will find beauty everywhere. Vincent Van Gogh ~
Henry Miller :The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.
R. Buckminster Fuller :When I am working on a problem I never think about beauty. I only think about how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.
Beauty is not caused. It is.
– Emily Dickinson
The Most Beautiful Flower
The park bench was deserted as I sat down to read Beneath the long, straggly branches of an old willow tree. Disillusioned by life with good reason to frown, For the world was intent on dragging me down. And if that weren’t enough to ruin my day, A young boy out of breath approached me, all tired from play. He stood right before me with his head tilted down And said with great excitement, “Look what I found!” In his hand was a flower, and what a pitiful sight, With its petals all worn – not enough rain, and too little light. Wanting him to take his dead flower and go off to play, I faked a small smile and then shifted away. But instead of retreating he sat next to my side And placed the flower to his nose And declared with overacted surprise, “It sure smells pretty and it’s beautiful, too. That’s why I picked it; here, it’s for you.” The weed before me was dying or dead. Not vibrant of colors: orange, yellow or red. But I knew I must take it, or he might never leave. So I reached for the flower, and replied, “Just what I need.” But instead of him placing the flower in my hand, He held it midair without reason or plan. It was then that I noticed for the very first time That weed-toting boy could not see: he was blind. I heard my voice quiver; tears shone in the sun As I thanked him for picking the very best one. You’re welcome,” he smiled, and then ran off to play, Unaware of the impact he’d had on my day. I sat there and wondered how he managed to see A self-pitying woman beneath an old willow tree. How did he know of my self-indulged plight? Perhaps from his heart, he’d been blessed with true sight. Through the eyes of a blind child, at last I could see The problem was not with the world; the problem was me. And for all of those times I myself had been blind, I vowed to see the beauty in life, And appreciate every second that’s mine. And then I held that wilted flower up to my nose And breathed in the fragrance of a beautiful rose And smiled as I watched that young boy, Another weed in his hand, About to change the life of an unsuspecting old man.