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Our inherent beauty

A family went out to restaurant for lunch. The waitress arrives. “What’ll you’ll have?” She asks.
The husband gives his order, and then says, “And the wife will have…”
The waitress turns to the five-year-old daughter, “And sugar, what’ll you have?”
With a smile the little girl pipes up, “I’ll have a hot dog.”
“Oh no she won’t,” interjects the dad. Turning to the waitress he says, “She’ll have meat loaf, mashed potatoes and milk.”
Looking at the child with a smile, the waitress asks, “So, hon, what do you’ll want on that hot dog?” As the waitress leaves, the father sits stunned and silent.
A few moments later the little girl, eyes still shining, says loudly, “Mom and Dad, Mom and Dad… that lady thinks I’m real.”
Here’s the deal: My heart and spirit can feel the liberating gift and power in those words of affirmation. “(She) thinks I’m real.”
Yes. The gift when someone sees me.
We live in a world burdened with uncertainty, anxiety and disquiet. So, it is no surprise that we can feel weighted down. And it is no surprise that we carry narratives (or storylines) that don’t allow us to see the gift that is too easily buried. The gift of our inherent beauty.

Our inherent beauty can be easily hidden. And this I know, when we hide our own beauty, we bury (literally, entomb) our courage (to be at home in our own skin).
And when we bury our courage, we disconnect from faith and hope and love.
But the burdens of life are not easy. I’m not suggesting that we haven’t (at times) felt cynical, bitter or tired. And yes, at times, we wonder if there is any reason to go on.
This is made all the thornier, if we see our imperfections (or whatever accompanying label or script) as an enemy (predicament or obstacle) to be overcome. Meaning, that we see only our shortcomings, and we do not see our beauty.
We do not see Grace.
We do not see Love.

When the little girl recognizes and affirms what she hears, it is as if she chooses the script she will now carry and draw upon. And chooses which script she will set down (let go of).
All too often, we carry a script that is not the whole truth. And such a script (or label or narrative) will always influence or persuade us, to play small.
Cole Arthur Riley’s reminder that “Liberation begins with an awareness that you are worthy of so much more than whatever form your chains have taken today.”

To be seen, and affirmed, has a health metaphor. There is a difference between a cure, and a healing. The affirmation is not about fixing and curing or erasing blemishes. With healing, somebody holds us (warts and all), because healing reconciles us to a bigger picture. And, now, we see the world with new eyes.
In God’s Hotel, Dr. Victoria Sweet tells the story of one of her patients. Miss Tod was thirty-five years old. She had cancer. Her cancer was brain cancer, and what made it horrible was that it was just behind her right eye, and it had grown, despite surgery and radiation, right out of her eye. The surgeon had removed the eye and sewn the eyelid down over the cancer, but the cancer was still growing.
Miss Tod had never been beautiful, but, what with the radiation, which had caused her hair to fall out; the steroids, which had caused her face to balloon; and the sewn eyelid which had started to bulge, she was now very hard to look at. Yet she was pleasant and quiet. She always smiled as I passed her by.
I got used to her deformity, although only by blocking out, in some way, my experience of her experience.
One day I finally braved my reluctance and stopped by her bed. Full stop. We look at each other. She at me, white-coated, rushed, a bit disheveled. I looked only at her left eye.
“Is there anything I can do for you?” I asked her, after we talked a bit.
“Yes,” she replied, “there is. The food here is cut up and bland. Do you think it could be changed? And could you arrange for me to visit to eye doctor? I need a new pair of glasses.”
Dr. Sweet writes, “I was, and am to this day, floored by her response.”
Miss Tod did not want a miraculous cure or euthanasia, did not want a second opinion or stronger pain medications, did not want pity or a need to vent. She wanted a decent meal and a pair of glasses. She was calm, matter of fact, saying nothing about her terrible misfortune.
Perhaps it is easier to “accept Fate,” but the lesson from Miss Tod is in the courage to embrace the small things, allowing for the ecstasy of ordinary greatness.
And yes, the exquisite gift and power in (and of) our inherent beauty. Miss Tod chose from that place.

“I think it’s not just relevant, like, but I think it’s actually necessary, because I think that beauty is not a luxury, but I think it ennobles the heart and reminds us of the infinity that is within us,” John O’Donohue wrote. “I always love what Mandela said when he came out — and I was actually in his cell in Robben Island one time, when I was in South Africa. After 27 years in confinement for a wrong you never committed, he turned himself into a huge priest and came out of this sentence, where he said that ‘[w]hat we are afraid of is not so much our limitations, but the infinite within us.’ And I think that that is in everybody.”
Yes. And I carry Rabbi Naomi Levy’s reminder with me, “God who was speaking those words to each one of us, ‘Let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet.’”

I do love spring. And I do love time in the garden. It helps me to breathe.
Indian Plum is in bloom along the roadways. Forsythia, with butter yellow blooms. Red flowering currant.
And on the pond today, what a treat. A new family of goslings. Six adorable balls of down. Their Leap of Faith from the nest happening roughly 24 to 48 hours after hatch. And Mother Goose left the nest, and mom and dad started vocalizing. And the already-busy goslings become even more excited, joyfully beginning to leap or tumble towards the sound of their parents’ voices.


Today’s Photo Credit: “Good morning Terry, I was pleasantly surprised to see the silhouette of a cross through the petals of the Tulip at sunrise. I love how God adds His surprises when we are pausing with Him. Thank you for keeping us focused Terry!” Marguerite Gerontis… Thank you Marguerite… And thank you to all, I love your photos… please keep sending them… send to 

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Letters that do my heart good…
–Dear Terry, Today’s photo of the iris’ is one of my favorite flowers, if not The favorite one. The two petals that fall inward remind me of the contemplative life. The two that fall outward represent the active life. We need both to bring more beauty and balance into this world. Thanks to Linda Perry who sent this to you! Many blessings, and thank yous, Sister Mary, RSM
–Love this! Michael Yaconelli had the wonder of childhood at heart when he wrote Dangerous Wonder and Messy Spirituality. Patti
–Terry, I have been in love with birds all my life. I started birding around age 9 when my mother let me go with a group of birders and we went all over the place and saw all kinds of birds and I still just love love birds. When I wake up in the morning, there is a bird that sings right outside my window when it’s still dark, and that to me is the voice of God singing good morning to me… singing wake up and enjoy the day I give you. Carolyn
–Yes about the light because we need to share it and we can do that because there are cracks in us that let it be seen. Being broken is how those cracks occur. I’d say laughter is the best and at times the only medicine but love is definitely the cure. Now I should probably work on a poem about that. Terry
–The Weavers, Lee Hayes, Ronnie Gilbert, Fred Kellerman and Pete Seeger remain a fixture in my spiritual journey. Their commitment to humanity is something very infinite in a way would be welcomed today! Thanks John


Learn by little the desire for all things
Learn by little the desire for all things
which perhaps is not desire at all
but undying love which perhaps
is not love at all but gratitude
for the being of all things which
perhaps is not gratitude at all
but the maker’s joy in what is made,
the joy in which we come to rest.
Wendell Berry (“Leavings”)

We are all great rivers flowing to their end.
Swirling inside us is the silt of ages and creatures and lands
and rain that has fallen for millions of years.
All this makes us cloudy with mud,
unable to see God.
As we struggle for clarity and the open sky,
the Lord keeps saying the same thing:
Come to me now and be blessed,
Hafiz (1320 – 1389)  

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