Many years ago, I worked with a young woman who had been deaf most of her life. Just before I met her, she had received a cochlear implant and experienced many auditory “firsts” in my presence. One was the sound of children laughing while playing.
Sarah was clearly captivated by the moment; we asked what she thought of what she’d heard. With tears in her eyes, she told us it was “beautiful.” With tears in our eyes, we thought Sarah’s newfound gift of hearing was just as beautiful.
It’s so easy to take everyday (and also extraordinary) forms of beauty for granted. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes the lack of them to wake us up to their importance.
Recently, I’ve been reacquainted with a form of beauty I’ve been without for some time.
Yup. You read that right. It surprises some, I know, but teens are actually great fun to be with (especially when you’re not responsible for making them take out the trash or for performing other onerous tasks). Their inventiveness and energy are so refreshing.
Participating in Calliope’s production of “Our Sister Act” this winter has given me the opportunity to be around kids doing what they love. It seems that regardless of age, our favorite activities bring out the best in us, making us fully alive, fully ourselves.
Personally, I find this kind of energy magnetic. For me, one of the most beautiful experiences life brings is the opportunity to be fully present “in the moment,” thus paving the way for the type of spontaneous authenticity that gets “civilized” out of most adults.
But that’s just me. What defines beauty for you? What images inspire you? What experiences compel you to leave the ordinary in order to participate in the extraordinary? What energizes your spirit and fires up your imagination?
Whatever form beauty takes for you, seek it out. Cultivate it. Go out of your way to make sure that the beauty that gives you access to your best, most fully alive self is regularly part of your life. For, you see, beauty is contagious.
Our world could really use an epidemic of this kind right now, don’t you think? Centuries ago, Paul instructed early Christians to meditate on “whatever is good, whatever is beautiful, whatever is true.” Devoting themselves to these things would be their gift to others.
The same is true for us today. When we spread beauty and goodness, the world around us is blessed – and enabled to do the same. This is a gift worth giving, not only for its intrinsic value, but also for its self-perpetuating nature.
So find some beauty. Revel in it. Pass it on.
The Rev. Margaret Gillikin is pastor of the First United Methodist Church in Salida.