The Necessity of Beauty in Tough Times

My heart was a little heavy. I was deep in thought about those I love and inwardly trying to “solve the world’s problems” (what? you don’t do that?)  Anyway, I read the title of this article in Darling magazine: Why We Need Beauty When Times are Tough . (PLEASE take a minute to read the article).

Oh, my heart resonated with this.  The discipline of knowing what choices keep you grounded in rough times can be tricky. Instead of honesty, we demean ourselves for thinking off the beaten path of hardship. We chide ourselves for being dreamers and wonder why looking at something beautiful is worthy. Well, answer that question. Why is it worthy? Listen to the answer. We know that the tiny, incremental decisions are the ones that let light pierce through the darkness. It’s always been in the smallest of things that redemption and hope takes root.

Maybe it’s in noticing the way the light makes your skin glow at sunset, or the way the trees sway and swirl in the breeze, or the application of a red, “happy” lipstick even when your heart is heavy? Whatever the “beauty” that lifts your heart, embrace it. Embrace it fully. Redemption draweth nigh.

You know celebration and recognition of beauty brings heaven down to earth, don’t you? The gasp inside your heart when you view the snow-capped mountains from the opposite ridge, seeing the aspens blaze in fall, or the surge of happiness and thankfulness amidst utter exhaustion as you hold a newborn baby in your arms, you know the peace that love brings and the way it surrounds you like a warm blanket on the cold night as you gaze up to see a shooting star. Guard this art of seeing, recognizing and celebrating beauty. Let nothing steal this prize from you. It’s extravagance is like a goddess from some mystical shore, looking at you, waiting for acknowledgment. Some will say this goddess doesn’t exist. You know the truth.

Recognition of beauty changes everything, mainly ourselves.

 

The Gasp of Cluelessness

I marvel at the poignancy of uncertainty. Have you ever thought you had something “figured out”, categorized, written off into “never question again” territory , only to realize in a “grand-scale-kind-of-way” that you were clueless? You might even gasp upon realization that facts were missing from your analysis? (It’s a beautiful gasp, I might add) Maybe spirit was missing? heart was missing? Something major was undetected; obscured from your understanding and view? Yeah, me too.

It might be that you had taken some option off of the table.  Pragmatic choice.  Ease of life decision. Understandable. Until it’s not. Some would site this categorization as laziness. Some, security. I tend to think that until we are drawn in, awakened by an ‘aha- moment”,  that “we meant well”. The good news is, I believe there’s grace for this moment. I am so grateful for that.

But…

when the dawning comes, what will you do? Pretend? Act like you’re still “sure” even if you’re not? Is honesty something to be ashamed of?  I think not. Honesty is crucial. Humility hangs here in this space- Humility is a resource for growth.

I don’t know it all. Even in my epiphanies, I am so limited. Maybe that is the most valuable understanding in life. The goal isn’t knowledge (contrary to popular opinion). It’s so much deeper. When we’re tempted to make judgments about others in their decisions, that’s probably a BIG clue. We’re probably WAAAAAAY off-base. Yep, grand gestures of “sure-ness” are sure to humble us. Judgments are futile.

Stop.

Just stop.

You are not designed to instruct the world. Give it a rest. You are designed for something much greater.

I know, this can be discouraging. If the goal is superiority, surety, loftiness, this will definitely feel like failure. uggghhhh. BUT, If the goal is growth, love, connection… a smile just crossed your lips. The gavel dropped from your hand. You crossed into new territory. (SMILE) The relief you feel is real. (deep breath). Welcome to a new way of living. I know, the colors are magical, are they not? Take it all in.

Can I just say, there is something more sure than promises and hopes, pressures and expectations  passed from human to human? You’ve been told this by those who NEED to believe it’s true. You know there is more. There is something more powerful and fulfilling- a SPIRIT alive within you. Do not be afraid of it. There is a love, peace, hope and joy written upon your soul. Look at it. Cry. Savor it . Sure, some may ridicule you to scorn for listening to the stillness within.  Let them. It is the only path to peace. It is all that will matter eventually. Those that REALLY love you will cheer you on.

Freedom recognizes freedom.

Freedom recognizes freedom,

yes, freedom recognizes freedom!!!!!!

You were born for this. Know it. Trust it. Search for it.

#beautynearme

#beautyinyou

Sun and Moon Love

If asked to describe the sun, I would talk about her warmth. I would highlight the gracefulness of her movements. I would ramble about the way the sun draws me close every 12 hours or so, to bask, watch and marvel. I would have to point out her predictability and her life-giving power. The plants turn to find her for good reason.

If asked to describe the moon, I would have to close my eyes in contemplation. A moment to ponder might yield some words, but maybe not. The moon seems to understand silence, moods, nuances, glances and innuendos. Words are secondary. The moon has the effervescent glow of stardom wrapped around her shoulders. She knows the value of the present. Her presence in the moment is everything. She has no inhibitions, No reservations. She’s honest. Daring. Humble.

The relationship between the two lights ignites longing. They highlight the possibility in relationships. They cause us to look at one, but at the same time reminded of the other. This essence bears witness that love is confident giving that needs nothing in return; fully fortified with being whole and then emptied. Over and over again.

Is it any wonder we are drawn in consistently to look up and “circle ’round” with the stars, looking and listening for the wisdom of the ages?

#beautynearme

The Deeper Mark

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“Way more people have tried to help me, than have harmed me, the harm just seems to leave the deeper mark…” ~Daniel, ‘Rectify’

Sometimes the bigger epiphany is not how we have been wronged but how we have been “righted”. We get to choose the focus.

I believe the same is true of love. And love is so generous and expansive. It washes over like a wave, full of force and grace, clearing, while also depositing a gift. Have you been loved? Well then, that is the weight we must carry in our mind, heart, life.

May we choose to let love ‘leave the deeper mark’.

love- volatile and safe, adventure and surrender, noun and verb, concrete and abstract, sharp and kind

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I can’t remember a time that I didn’t believe there was a world more real than the one we see. But today I feel it more surely, like knowing the waxing and waning schedule of the moon, never doubting how it will brighten the night sky. We wait expectantly. I believe LOVE is much the same. Even in our darkest, doubtful, dreadful moments we give a silent nod of respect to this foundation called LOVE. We can’t ignore it. We crave it. We want to understand but also to be understood. We’re wired with tenacity and curiosity, belief and hope that we can go deeper still as the divine voice faintly sings something familiar and we forge ahead to get closer to the LOVE source.

LOVE is that subtle but sure foundation that causes us to believe and pursue the best in us. We seek while also wanting to be found. Love keeps us curious and busy roaming back roads forgotten. It keeps us searching for poetry, writing new (and old) lyrics, looking with longing eyes to the places all around and within that we know can and should be redeemed. It compels us to give weight to whispers, nudges and inklings not fully understood but heard in our soul. It brings a song in the night. LOVE truly is beautifully breathtaking.

LOVE, and the pursuit of living love fully, pushes us past our perceived boundaries, surprising even our own selves in a moment’s notice. It’s volatile and safe, adventure and surrender, noun and verb, concrete and abstract, sharp and kind.

It is the answer to most of our questions.

Love.

Remembering firsts

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Firsts are amazing, aren’t they? I experienced the first snow of this season yesterday. I admit I’m easily amazed, but the newness of the white covering the ground seems like a clean slate full of possibility and redemption. What firsts do you remember? Do you remember that first taste of coffee? Or seeing your first snowfall? Or maybe your first family vacation? What about that first interaction with your love? The leap in our heart stays with us and is stamped and coded for easy recall, giving us courage for the future new experiences to come, while keeping us lightly tethered to something meaningful in our past.

But undoubtedly, this gift of remembering can be misused. It could become an escape, a coping mechanism, a retreat from the present, instead of emboldening us with gritty determination. I don’t think remembering is meant to be an escape to past”safety”, nor is it meant to carry us away in the unknown allurement of the future. So how is this gift used?

Presence is a tricky thing, don’t you think? It’s always moving. It is the power of time and love combined. Just typing these words mean they have in this space of time become the past. It’s a weird concept. But in the present we carry the sum of our physical, spiritual, emotional and mental experiences of what has been up to this point. This makes us comfortable and cozy amidst our good memories. They are strong, fierce, warm and nostalgic. We don’t have to work for them to come back into our thoughts. But maybe the reminiscing is not the focus. Maybe it is meant to be like a background color on a portrait painting. It’s chosen to enhance the subject of “the present” to be even more inviting, more alluring, more understood, more. It gives context. It’s a code for understanding so that as we move into time, we understand it is to be prized, precious and gratitude-filled.

Memory is a powerful force. It can be the elixir of courage we need in the present moment. It can be the faint aroma that ignites part of us that we’ve forgotten, but need to know still exists.

 

The Privilege of Struggle

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Most of us aren’t wondering how we will physically survive the day. But we do wonder if we will survive emotionally and spiritually. The struggle itself means we are forging through obstacles. Sure, we could avoid struggle, but the cost is so high.

The cost is high…death while being alive.

There’s a little old building on this property outside the RV. It has weathered a lot. You can tell it’s old by the wood, chipped paint and antique doorknob. I love it. It’s the backdrop for my prairie view. It reminds me that resilience is interesting, noble, honorable and worthy. It reminds me that scars mean we’ve tried something…maybe even something daring.

If we dream, love, open up, try new things, imagine better, well, this means we are vulnerable to emotional and spiritual daggers. We might look a little “weathered” like this building.

But, if we don’t dream, love, try, imagine… we are dead already.

Do you have a clear vision of the life you want? What are you called to contribute to this world? Are you trying new things? Saying yes to scary things? Are you loving people in all of the ways that make you most vulnerable? Do you counter the darkness by being light? Do you think against cultural norms? Are you aware of the power you possess?

If any of these things are true, consider the next thunder-clap in the heavens above as an applause for YOU. Do you hear that ROAR? That’s for YOU. The world has been waiting for you to show up with exactly what you are. May this thunder=clap echo loud and long enough to be confirmation to your soul. YOU are onto something here.

This is the privilege of struggle. This is living while being ALIVE.