A Visitation of Beauty
It was the last thing I expected. The day had been busy to the point of chaos; so many questions I had to answer, so many places I needed to be. Now it was after midnight and I sat curled up in my favourite spot, a skein of wonderful wool flowing through my fingers as I knit a new shawl. With each stitch I wove, another of the day’s irritations unhooked its claws from my soul and flew, grumbling, up the cold chimney and I became lost in the rhythm of knitting.
The television was on. Stephen Colbert’s Late Show - I often tune in for a bit of his intelligent wit before bedtime. But this evening, the sound was down low and I was paying him little attention, until I glanced up to see prima ballerina, Misty Copeland, standing on one side of the stage, clearly about to dance to the music of cellist, Yo Yo Ma, who sat waiting on the other side. I turned up the sound.
Two human beings doing what they do best in the world, creating a moment of beauty. My knitting needles dropped from my hands as I watched and listened and by the close, two fat tears had rolled down my cheeks. I was filled to the brim with the sort of joy beauty bestows and I went to bed - peaceful, hopeful and full of gratitude.
It is often dismaying to see how little we value beauty today, particularly in the light of its importance. We insure our school sports programs are always well-funded even as we slash art and music away as though they were mere trivialities. If only we realized how much richer the soul becomes by learning to recognize beauty. How expansive the mind and how happy the heart of the person who learns this early in life, for by making the soul a harbor for beauty one is guaranteed a life that rewards all the days with wonder.
Some of us are born with an innate ability to see beauty. We seem to be aware of its holy power the first time we encounter it. However, it is a skill that can be learned as well. It can start by opening the window at midnight to sit and gaze at the stars. Finding the perfect fragrant flower to place in a vase by your bed. Stopping on a walk to feel the autumn wind on your face. Or, by putting down your knitting to watch someone at the height of their powers perform a lyrical, joyful dance.
The more you begin to revere the transforming power of beauty, the more beauty you see, for it seems to reveal itself in direct proportion to how much it is appreciated. You have to pay attention, for beauty is so often ephemeral; like a soap bubble in a breeze. But oh, what a delightful gift it can be. How it does lift the soul to soar.
The marvelous Irish writer, John O’Donohue, (one of my favorites)
puts it much better than I when he writes:
"Beauty does not linger; it only visits.
Yet beauty's visitation affects us and invites us into its rhythm;
it calls us to feel, think and act beautifully in the world:
to create and live a life that awakens the Beautiful.
A life without delight is only half a life."
Stop a moment and watch Misty Copeland and Yo Yo Ma.
I wish you all such beauty in your lives.