Bringing Beauty To Life Part 2
Mary H. Reaman, D. Min.
The emergence of beauty often comes from discovering unity between two seemingly separate or incompatible things or people. While beauty cannot be defined or its parameters agreed upon, are there any among us who can say, “I am completely indifferent to beauty?”
Our quest for beauty is the quest for the Divine or sacred dimensions of life. One way to think about God or the Mysteries of the Universe is as the horizon of ultimate beauty toward which we are irresistibly drawn. As long as we have some longing for a wider and deeper beauty than we have experienced thus far in our lives we reveal that we have already in some way encountered the divine or been taken hold of by sacredness of life.
What makes us appreciate something as beautiful is that it brings together nuance, richness, complexity and novelty on one side, and harmony, pattern, or order on the other. (Right/Left, Force/Form sides of the tree unite in Beauty) Beauty involves the transformation of potentially clashing elements or experiences into pleasing contrasts harmonized by the creative pattern unfolding in the tapestry of life.
Whether we are talking about an electron, an artistic creation, a person, civilization or the universe…these things would have no identity at all unless their constituent parts were patterned in a definite way.
Our lives are like an inkblot. And in order to make sense of them we often identify the movement within them as a pattern, cycle, or weaving of birth, life, death and resurrection experiences.
The hero’s journey is an example of such beauty because it involves the narrative patterning of struggle, suffering, conflict, contradiction and grace, glory and triumph into a complex unity or weaving together of one’s life into a unified whole. A hero is someone who confronts difficult circumstances and becomes new, because of it. That’s why Tiferet on the Tree of Life is associated with Christ-Consciousness, Buddha Nature, and other stories and myths about gods who suffered, died, and were reborn.
This is what we saw in the clip from CNN Heroes. This young woman saw someone who was quite different from herself…running past them, they became a part of her consciousness, her landscape. But that wasn’t enough…Somehow she sensed a connection between these who were homeless, rejected and dejected and herself.
By finding a connection between herself and those who appeared to be completely different from her she brought beauty to life – her own and theirs and now the larger world. She saw something in those men and culled it forth. Somehow she realized they were part of the same story, her destiny tied up with theirs, a Divine Unfolding that held surprises for all involved.
Life gives us all kinds of opportunities to bring beauty to life in our own lives and in our own ways. Even as a community, we are called to bring beauty to life in a unique way that only these relationships, at this time, have the potential to create and contribute to.
Bringing together contrasting people, circumstances and realities through the common experience of running – the beauty of life, the beauty of diversity, the beauty of potential – ignites and shines!
We are all called to be the heroes of our own story. The meaning of our lives is determined by the way in which we participate in this ongoing story of Life. As Chittister says, “life is only as wide and as deep as our souls are. If we’ve been weaned on littleness, life will be little for us. But if we have been nursed on great ideas, great experiences, great beauty, and great awareness, life will have no limits.” Or as Rumi says, the “pot drips what is in it.”
So the way we perceive life and our experiences of birth, death and resurrection often determines whether or not we are able to perceive the beauty of it all. If we feed on littleness – in other words, if we take the victim role, if we feed on gossip, envy and fear, if we harbor thoughts of superiority, judgment, hatred or violence we are nursing ourselves on littleness. But when we are able to perceive all of our life experiences as part of a larger story or context, as adding to the tapestry, design and beauty of our lives and of life itself, we feed on strength, awe and majesty. Great beauty. Great awareness.
Recognizing that we are part of a larger story in which the contradictions and conflicts in one’s own life-experience are patterned into the larger aesthetic of the world story or universe story’s harmonizing of contrast is one of the most intimate experiences we can have of beauty, of the sacred and holy. In becoming aware of the rhythm of our own lives and seeing it echoed in the Cosmic Rhythms of Creation we see that it really isn’t two separate journeys or 7 billion separate journeys, but One.
Awakening to the wider beauty that situates our own experience within an aesthetically intense pattern is indispensable to realizing the power we have to co-create, co-author the story of the Life’s Unfolding and awakens us to the urgency not to waste what time we have together on littleness.
It is the function of the narrative context – of storytelling – to provide this patterning for our lives. Our lives are part of our family story, our family story is part of our neighborhood story, neighborhood story is part of community story, community story is part of city story, city story is part of national story, part of earth story, part of galaxy story, part of universe story. Our lives are nested in a beauty that yearns to be revealed through our relationships and the authentic connections we make in love.
When we lack a deep sense that the apparent contradictions in our lives are being resolved into harmonizing contrasts by the unfolding of a comprehensive story in which our struggles and triumphs, sufferings, and joys are embedded, we easily experience meaninglessness, depression, apathy, and powerlessness.
The feeling that one does not belong to anything greater than oneself, the pain of not feeling part of any heroic struggle that gives continuity and meaning to the chaotic moments of one’s life, results in the lack of a sense of participating in the beautiful, even worse it can leave us with a profound sense of being a victim of life’s whims.
In order to bring beauty to life we have to become the hero of our own story. And we do that by recognizing first that we are not an accident – that we have been woven into the tale of Universe’s own Unfolding. Each one of us is a unique facet of the beauty in the Universe. And the way we live into or deny that connection determines the way our story plays out.
At one time or another we have all experienced what its like to go unnoticed, to be rejected, feel unwelcome, or left out. Yet how many of us have been saved because someone else saw through our pain to the beauty that sometimes is even difficult for us to see and called us back to life?
We can only bring beauty to life if we are certain that we ourselves contain it. Anne Malhum, the woman who helped the homeless get back on their feet found a connection between seemingly unrelated realities by sharing something that brought beauty and strength to her own life – running.
In sharing this connection, the inner beauty of those who participated was given an opening for expression. Together they were runners…they weren’t homeless, poor, or rejected. Through running they were immediately given an experience of their own beauty, their own strength. They were given the beginning of a new chapter for their story and the realization that they are part of something larger than themselves. They learned that they weren’t alone and that brings beauty to life!
It wasn’t just the young woman in that DVD that became the hero of her own story, but she empowered others to become the heroes of theirs. In uniting herself to others, she reveals that our hearts can grow big enough to contain contrasting or opposing realities – the experience of poverty and the experience of wealth, the experience of loss and the experience of gain, the feeling of hopelessness and the discovery strength, the feeling of sadness and the feeling of joy, feeling of being abandoned and the experience of belonging.
There is not one among us who has not felt we’ve been stretched nearly to the breaking point by the opposing realities of our own lives and that of the world and yet we are here. We have survived because somewhere deep down we know we are part of something larger than ourselves. My story is embedded in yours and yours in mine. And our story embedded in the Universe story.
How we relate to our Self, how we accept or reject who we are, how we accept or reject others… How we include or exclude…how we forgive and accept forgiveness, how we grow and develop or shrink back in fear, how we open or close our hearts and our minds determines the Beauty we bring to life.
The beauty you are is unique in this universe and can only be manifest if you have the courage to live into it. So how are you being called to live into the beauty that you are? How is TLC being called to share the beauty that we experience here? This week look for opportunities to bring beauty to life.