What is really beautiful?

It is an old woman, in hospice, waiting to die, as she is remembering.

I know.

I saw her yesterday.

She is there in a dying place, seeing again those moments when she was young and agile. She is a young girl again, and her hands are moving now like the leaves in the wind-blown trees outside of her room.

You’d look at her, if you didn’t know her and not see anything of that, and only perhaps see age and disease  –unless you looked closely into her eyes and then, if you wanted to, you could see the young girl in the old woman. To see that kind of thing, it helps to know the person, and even then you have to look closely, and not blink at the dry, thin film of agedness and the unloveliness of the dying. You have to look past the things you tend to turn your eyes away from.

Sometimes I want everything to be beautiful, to live in a perfectly beautiful community of people,  in  a beautiful city, in a beautiful world set in a beautiful universe.  I want everyone to have all the beauty they need, but they don’t, and I don’t and it isn’t all perfect and it isn’t  easy to see the beauty through the aging and the dying and the brokennes and the stains.

Today I saw a man who has more than enough money not to have to work, work.  He worked; he put up new lights in an old church. And when he was done with the electrical part of the work, his specialty, he stayed to do the non-specialist part of the work, the clean up, the patching of a damaged ceiling, the covering up of the scars where the old lights had come down. Beautiful!

It is beautiful to see a person work who is not incentivized by money, to see care, work, love — gratis. My friend, the electrician, is  motivated  by his love for God, his desire to be useful and his care for his friends who asked. He earned nothing, but he did everything needed.

It is a kind of dancing, I think, to care for a person who is dying or to restore a  building that needs to live again.

We are quick to praise beauty when we see it, the full moon rising in the early evening sky, the lovely girl strolling past us along the way, the sheen of a new car rolling smoothly down the city street.

These are beauty clichés.

But twice lately, I’ve seen the real thing. I ‘ve seen deep beauty peeping from the wrinkles of an old face, and  I’ve seen warm, alabaster light glow from the old ceiling of a sacred space.

There is more to this world  than youth and glitz and everything up and to the right on the graph.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

I am looking forward to seeing the beauty hidden in the seam and crack of life.

I am looking forward to something more beautiful than previously imagined.

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