Bringing Beauty To Life
Mary H. Reaman, D. Min.
Discovering a source of unity between two seemingly separate things/people is discovery of beauty. While beauty cannot be defined or its parameters agreed upon, is there any among us who can say, “I am completely indifferent to beauty?” If we could say this we would truly be atheists. But otherwise we’re not.
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 sacred dimensions 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. (Left and Right 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 heroic story is an example of such beauty because it involves the narrative patterning of struggle, suffering, conflict, contradiction and triumph into a complex unity or weaving together of one’s life into a unified whole.
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. 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.
The thing that makes her a hero is that she brought beauty to life! And 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.
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 – the Divine Unfolding. Belonging to a story in which the contradictions and conflicts in one’s own life-experience are patterned into a larger aesthetic by the narrative’s harmonizing of contrast is one of the most intimate experiences we can have of beauty/God. In other words, witnessing the Rhythm of Life as we experience the births, deaths, resurrections of our own journey sands and shapes us and hems us into beauty, into God. From that perspective we can see that we are part of larger story/unfolding.
The sense of a 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 Divine Unfolding.
It is the function of the narrative context – of our own storytelling – to provide this patterning for our lives. Our lives are part of our family story, family story part of our neighborhood story, neighborhood story part of community story, community story part of city story, city story part of national story, part of earth story, part of galaxy story, part of universe story, part of God-story. These lives are nested in beauty that yearns to be revealed…through authentic connection, 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, overwhelming 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 would give 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 God’s own Unfolding. Each one of us is a unique facet of God’s beauty. And the way we live into or deny that connection determines the way our story plays out.
Life is an invitation to participate in Beauty’s Unfolding. Bringing beauty to life is an invitation for each of us to explore the limits of our own capacity for love, for forgiveness, for openness, for seeing beneath the superficial to the larger truth of who we are.
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. 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 see their story in a new way.
In uniting herself to others, she reveals that our hearts can grow big enough to contain 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 joy, feeling of being abandoned and the experience of belonging.
There is not one among us who has not experienced or felt these opposing and contrasting realities 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 God’s 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? This week look for opportunities to bring beauty to life. How is TLC being called to share the beauty that we experience here?