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?