Revisiting Beauty

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A friend recently gave me John O’Donohue’s book, Beauty, and it helped explain why beauty is so important to me. If you have read my memoir, perhaps you recall the last paragraph about beauty: “We can own a photograph, or the land that forms its backdrop, but ultimately beauty owns us. It is us, in all our shapes and colors, in our various moods, in every season of our lives. We are beauty, and each of us belongs.” I have often wondered why I ended the book that way. When I opened O’Donohue’s, Beauty, I understood.

Here is John O’Donohue on the importance of beauty::

  • “Beauty brings a sense of completion and sureness.”
  • Beauty…”is like a divine breath that blows the heart open.”
  • “Ultimately it is the soul that makes the face beautiful…We feel beautiful when we are loved.”

For the past seven months I have worked hard to bring completion to aspects of my father’s estate. From answering hundreds of condolence cards, to selling his thirty-five horse carriages, participating in the sale of my childhood homes, and about 35 other projects, I have found comfort in closure. The beauty was in doing my best as a way of honoring his memory.

When tasks become overwhelming I look up at the clouds changing shapes or stare at the  200-year old maple tree in my front yard, imagining all that she witnessed in her lifetime. The beauty of the land gives me strength.

I have never been a classic beauty. While I wished as a youth to look more glamorous on the outside, I have come to realize the truth of the soul. My father taught me. During the last decade of his life he loved me unconditionally, as I loved him. We each saw the other as beautiful; in the same way I see the gnarled bark of my maple tree worthy of photographs, or he saw my extra few pounds as womanly.

When we find completion in whatever we’re doing, and accept each other and ourselves as beautiful, the sky looks bluer, and we belong to beauty.

 

What role does beauty play in your life?

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15 Responses to Revisiting Beauty

  1. Irma Britton says:

    Dearest Eileen,

    Receiving your email in my inbox at work just now is as beautiful as the note you wrote about “beauty”. If I smile and feel warm inside me when I see something as simple as an email or as big as the red barn in your photo, that’s the true meaning of beauty for me. Thank you for sharing!

    With much love and looking forward to talking to you,
    Irma

  2. Iain G Kelly says:

    What an interesting perspective. The strength from nature, the joy of being steward of the land, and the energy and value working with nature resonates with me.

    I hadn’t thought of myself within the picture. I’m looking forward to reflecting on that while doing much needed reforestig this winter.

  3. Elaine Naddaff says:

    Hi Eileen, Just yesterday, I reread your last article about the bee and saw that you had replied to my comment. Yes, my family and I were not effected by the many storms. Safe and sound, we knew how “lucky” we were to be fine. I, too, hope your family has not endured any of nature’s damaging
    weather. Thank you for asking.

    The beauty of nature is overwhelming at times. I do think all should question the “whys” of nature’s scientific basis. This inquisitiveness brings us back to learning and enlightens us, again. The painters paint, inspired; the photographers photograph, instantly capturing “the moment”; the writers use nature’s scenes, for stories, plays, poems,etc; the musician and composers play and compose in many turns. Oh, the cook and nature’s harvests…

    Your appreciation of beauty is documented!!!!

    Looking forward to reading “Beauty.” I have just finished “What Happened” by Hilary Clinton. Her drive and rest with walks in the woods keep her moving on…

    A friend, a highly respected lawyer, said he and his famiy have tried to keep their inherited summer house the way his parents would have liked it. Certainly, that comment encompassed more than the material,, but the keeping of the family, together, in spirit and enjoyment. I know you must be thinking in much the same manner, as you hold onto and sell many precious belongings. To have shared
    an unconditional love with your father seems to be a strong personal characteristic of yours. You were strong for your mother, too, when she needed you. “Unconditional”–a statement, or question…

  4. Evaristo Leopoldo Camargo Rodas says:

    Abro vuestro E-mail y leo con la atención que se merece su siempre interesante contenido por
    los tópicos expuestos con claridad y profundidad.En esta ocasión he quedado aun mas cautiva-
    do por su invitación a que digamos el papel que la belleza ha jugado en nuestras vidas,y es con
    sumo placer poder, con tan sugestivo e inmenso tema,dirigirme a su Señoría lo cual estaba espe-
    rando el momento propicio y que mejor que lo atinente,relacionado a la belleza para hacerlo.
    Desde luego que es mucho y casi imposible decir todo cuanto es dable exponer,pero lo intentare
    pues su sugerencia es precisa,Como proemio o preludio permitame decirle que su formula es de
    por si bella ya que une en su pregunta a la belleza con la vida,y por supuesto a la vida con la
    belleza ya que sabemos que infortunadamente muchas personas pasan por esta vida sin siquie-
    ra percatarse de que existe algo llamado belleza. Considerémonos muy afortunados y privilegia-
    dos de la belleza haya estado presente en nuestra existencia y que la hayamos sabido recono-
    cer,En mi caso personal ha sido definitiva.No podría ser lo que soy,ni lo que he llegado a ser sin
    su concurso.Su invitación me hace caer en cuenta de que para hablar sobre la belleza en nues-
    tra vida se debe contar con el don,la sensibilidad para percibirla,descubrirla,adivinarla,entrever-
    la,contemplarla,apreciarla y en todo ello incluso hay grados de asimilación porque ante una
    canción,un paisaje,el cielo estrellado,la brisa,el viento que nos saluda…en todo lo que nuestra
    sensibilidad nos permite percibir hay gradaciones y así tiene que ser puesto,que una canción,un paisaje,el viento nos parecen los sentimos bellos de distinta manera según los tiempos de nues-
    tra existencia. 0bservo con tristeza como las generaciones de hoy-y no las juzgo-por las nuevas
    circunstancias en las que impera lo practico,rápido,veloz (a proposito recuerdo la portada de un libro de Milan Kundera, “La Lentitud”,donde sobre la curva de una Avenida en el campo y en
    otoño-por los tonos sepia-amarillo de las hojas en el suelo y en las ramas de los arboles- se ve,
    desde la parte de atrás,el espectador esta situado detrás,a un hermoso carruaje,lo asocio ense-
    guida con los 35 carruajes de vuestro inolvidable padre David Rockefeller sobre los cuales usted
    ha tenido la fina gentileza de informar a quienes seguimos su blog muy agradecido, andando
    plácidamente ,y ,detrás del carruaje,a un lado un motociclista ataviado de cuero y caso sobre
    una motocicleta de altisimo cilindraje y ladeado un bello contraste sobre un bello paisaje) van
    perdiendose de enriquecer su existencia con la infinita luz que ella ofrece ya que nos ilumina el
    ser interior dándonos savia,insuflandonos de energía espiritual con la cual podemos sobrellevar
    mejor y afrontar con mejor posibilidad de éxito las expectativas que van surgiendo y las que
    nos proponemos y soñamos.Sea esta la oportunidad magnifica para reconocer a nuestros padres
    y en mi caso personal principalmente a mi Señora madre Ruth Estela Rodas Gonzalez-Q.E.P.D.
    por habernos indicado,mostrado,señalado,enseñado las manifestaciones dela belleza y sobre
    todo a adquirir y cultivar la sensibilidad para poder enriquecernos de su presencia en nuestras
    existencias terrenales que gracias a la belleza asciende y nos eleva mas alla donde el espiritu
    humano halla su plena justificación.
    Con vuestra aquiescencia prontamente le expondré una iniciativa respecto del primer aniversa-
    rio del finado David Rockefeller-Q.E.P.D.

    • My apologies for not understanding Spanish. It is a goal of mine to learn to speak your beautiful language, but for now I think I have understood the gist of what you share from your heart. Thank you. I’m glad if my blog invited you to think more deeply about the importance of beauty. May you find it every day as a mirror for your soul.

  5. Phyll Perry says:

    Loved your photograph, especially of the red leaves in the foreground—truly “beautiful” and couldn’t agree with you more about the importance of beauty in our lives. And, with the author’s comment that “we feel beautiful when we are loved.” So true. Can’t wait to read his book, thank you for recommending it.

    Found an interview with John O’ Donohue you (and your readers) might enjoy: https://onbeing.org/programs/john-odonohue-the-inner-landscape-of-beauty-aug2017/

    Beauty is an elixir, a soothing comfort to the slings and arrows of life. When I think of beauty, I think of angels, sweetness, art, authenticity, truth, honor, dignity, magic, melodies, friendship and LOVE. Beauty is essential for our world and for our souls. In the here and now. And, heaven above.

  6. Linda Saraf says:

    Thanks for these lovely sentiments…. I am missing you… too long since we connected,
    Much love
    linxox

  7. louisegil5 says:

    Dearest Eileen, thank you so much for this reminder of the importance and the power of beauty within and outside of ourselves. I love John O’ Donohue’s poetry and now will get his book “Beauty”. What a lovely tribute you write to your beloved dad. Your post was just what I needed, as so much of our daily lives have been in one way or an other assaulted by our country’s political reality–and it ain’t pretty; and on top of this our poor planet and many of its inhabitants are threatened by circumstances of war, violence, and climate catastrophe. Your message of today has provided me with a necessary and true reminder and relief—to try to not to be overwhelmed by external events and to turn my heart and soul toward beauty, which is an ever-presen and necessary balance in our lives. Hugs to you. Louise

    • Dear Louise, Yes, there is much to be afraid of and angry about these days. Beauty is a kind of elixir I find. Not that we should ignore the threats to our safety and well-being, but that we balance it. I hope you find a beautiful place to walk or a tree to sit under. Wishing you peace and comfort. Love, Eileen

  8. Mac McConnell says:

    Dear Eileen, After reading your post, there was a temptation to just lie back and look for what beauty brings to mind as we search through our personal experiences. I’m afraid my own memories are private and rather exclusive, for they consist simply of being in a woodland setting, alone or with someone I love, in a quiet but heavy snowfall. No one else in the world exists but you and yours!

    Mac

    • Dear Mac, Thank you for your honesty. My questions never need be answered publicly. They are meant for each person to do exactly as they need; whatever is most helpful. I’m glad to know that you find comfort in your personal memories and images. Warmly, Eileen

      • Mac McConnell says:

        Dear Eileen,

        I have no regrets in publicly announcing my opinions or feelings; I simply was afraid that some might find my “Snowstorm” a bit private and self-centered.

        Keep up the good work. More of the world should be interested in what others a feeling, and thinking.

        Mac

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