Stewardship: A Way of Life

Stewardship: A Way of Life

Sharing:  Time Talent  Treasure

BEAUTY IN THE EYES OF THE BEHOLDER

BEHOLDER? That means you and me. No matter the perfection of our senses or not, beauty is out there for us to wallow in. But who will define beauty for us? Are we all in agreement as to what is beautiful? Have we fallen victim to our culture’s  definition of beauty in our movies, magazines, loud music, TV, and so on?  Or can we all agree that the author of beauty is God–the Creator of it all. And one of His greatest gifts to us is our senses–hear, see, touch, taste, and smell. And with these abilities we can experience His Creation, even if we might not understand all of it (the vastness of outer space, why smelling something that appeals to us makes us hungry or not to another, how a little tiny plant can survive repeated freezes and still grow straight and ‘tall’, etc.)  But are these unlimited things noticed and even called beautiful by all?

Recently in our Gospel story, we heard about the home owner who saw the bare olive tree, found it wanting, and  so said to the gardener to cut it down. The gardener responded by asking for patience so that he could tend it and add to its bareness, with care, love, the necessary ingredients to make it flourish. But given some time, if this care does not work, then it will be cut down. Who saw the beauty in this tree? Do we with Mother Nature all around us see beauty in bareness? Must someone or something be only in full bloom to be beautiful? Can we see beauty in potential? A newly born child? A six year old’s drawing? A less than perfect cupcake which smells delicious? A homeless person? The human voice? Music not perfectly played? A home that is not perfectly cared for?  And so much more in our daily experience. Can we only see destruction that has changed what we considered beautiful? Is everyone’s individual judgement of ‘what is beauty’ the same?  What happens, if we cannot agree with any assessment of ‘what is beauty’? Did Jesus only involve Himself with ‘the beautiful people’? If not, why?  Every day in every way we should experience beauty. Will God’s patience with us to enjoy His Creation and be joyful wear thin? Without His patience, mercy, love, and all else that He has gifted us with, wear thin? How much of His perfect world do we experience every day? And in all people (which He created), do we see beauty? Do our judgements, pre or spontaneous, get in our way of being aware of the possible multiple layers of beauty?

Recently in the hospital’s cafeteria, I became aware of a woman, when I sat down at a table. She had her back to me and had on layers of clothing making her seem probably larger than she actually was. And then she turned around. Her face was severely disfigured and discolored, and her lips, nose and other features were way out of proportion to the norm. It was a shock at first and I was uncomfortable looking at her. And then I noticed that she knew of her presence and its affect on others. And yet she wore no cover ups about her face and held her posture very proudly and moved about with apparently little self consciousness. There was a certain beauty in her presence and lack of timidity or apology. I had to admire and respect her courage in her comfort of self. And yet,  it was easy to jump to a judgement in my first reaction. Like with the bare tree, we need to have patience. Beauty is not always at first blush or so obvious as to not be ignored. I would have liked to meet her. Like Jesus’ journey this Lent is not at all times a thing of obvious beauty. And yet the whole of all existence changed because of His beautiful gift of suffering and dying for us. We people threw palms on the ground and cheered Him as He went by. And all the while, others plotted to trap and kill Him even as He did no wrong. Will we ever get it right?

by Kathy Reilly