Unlike most of the guest posts that I have done, I have spent little face to face time with Kmarie. As she says, we mostly know each other through friends. I do however enjoy reading her blog as she offers a very different perspective from my own that challenges and encourages me. One thing that I really appreciate about her blog is the beautiful pictures that are on the side bar as you read; they are pictures so full of color and light. I have been particularly inspired by her quest of finding beauty and how she addresses our perception of what beauty is.
I am also honored to be joining her on her blog Acquiring Balance.
Marissa asked me to write on Beauty. The Beauty in the Flaw, in seemingly (un) beautiful things is one of my favourite elements to seek out. Amongst depression and other struggles I look to the Creator and Creation of Inspired Beauty for healing my soul. I, however, have had to train my brain to look at Beauty from various perceptions. I am honoured to be on Marissa’s blog. She challenges me to think from a different perspective. Even though I did not really know her in college, I knew OF her. We are friends of friends, and through this blog I would consider her another kind addition to my tapestry of life. I hope you enjoy the following post:
Beautifying Our Gaze
Beauty defined? Perhaps the philosophers can give it more justice (If it needs such a thing.) C.S.Lewis suggested that “all beauty in some way, in its unique way, is like Him who made it.” Or minor reflections of the Highest Creator. How can we tell if anything is that type of beauty? It’s a struggle to decipher between what money makers promote beauty as and what is true by the feel and perceptions of the soul. Could we make the argument that where there is obsession there is not beauty? True beauty would not make anyone miserable. If it is a prison instead of an open space, we are on the wrong track. If it’s a master instead of a partner than it’s time to expose the false face.
Nightmares can become like dreams if allowed. Mentality tricks one into submission. “Beauty is not the absolute but points beyond itself.”* Perhaps it would help to look alongside beauty instead of at it?
Does our culture long after the cheap, plastic imitation of the real thing? Of course those misrepresented ideas stem from the fact that all need to have a union with beauty through nature, people, or inspiration. We were created to desire this. We were meant to feel love and inspiration through this medium. But the perception we give to Beauty determines how it will be pursued in our life. The outcome of everything depends on mentality.If beauty is defined by pleasure only than one can possess a minute piece of the equation. Why choose that and miss the splendid wonder that comes with the rest of the picture? Pleasure should be measured by beauty. Not the other way around.
True Beauty is obscure. One could try to define it by allowing it to point to future joy. Or perhaps we could allow it to become something more inspiring and more liberating than the box of self interest, the box of self desire, the box of self betterment? The truth of beauty is known through the distinct feeling it creates in heart, head, Spirit and mental drive. It whispers that goodness and love are true and pure.
Wonder and mystery encase beauty. We hear it in the laugh of a child, see it in the joy of a friend’s countenance, touch it in loves response, sense it in the baking of the neighbour’s gift, or perceive it in the work that went into a well placed room. With this mysterious definition Audrey Hepburn becomes beautiful not just for her unique loveliness but for the picture of grace she became to the UNICEF children who were ravaged from war and disease. She may have been a lovely icon of classic fashion on the outset but if one were to read her story, one would see the compassion she exuded. Audrey transcended human loveliness and became beautiful through her maturity, through the lines of worry etched in her face, and through the determination of hope set in her eyes.
Beauty is splendor! However, if we are caught up in the many false imitations of it, than we are driven towards things that waste time instead of enhance it. Perhaps we would are then driven to self instead of neighbour?
Each individual has unique beauty. A potential mirror of the DIVINE who Is. When we fail to truly search out the hidden beauty of our neighbours and to love it out with unconditional harmony we fail to walk alongside beauty. If we stick to the rules of propriety instead of seeing the soul, we become ugly. When we choose to only see the physical, we become ugly in our human feeling heart.
We each make choices daily to determine our standards of beauty. Unfortunately those choices can only take us two ways. If it’s full of error it will take us to falseness. A world being ruled by it’s own lies. A world where emptiness feels full because the mind allowed the numbness of the plastic version to settle and fester. If it is real we will feel a deep urge to create (for God created beauty and said it was all good.) If it is true we will want to drench life in it’s sweet splendor.
“The human gaze is not the closed, fixed view of a camera but it is creative and constructive. Both the gaze that sees and the object that is seen construct themselves simultaneously in the one act of vision. So much depends on how we see things. More often than not the style of gaze determines what we see. There are many things near us that we never notice simply because of the way we see. The way we look at things has a huge influence on what becomes visible for us. If a house has been closed up for a long time, a film of dust settles on the windows. Decayed residue gradually manages to seal out the light. When we go into such a place, we smell the dankness of sour fetid air. The same thing can happen in the windows of the mind.”***
We are responsible for determining what and how we see things. We are the sole owner of our inner soul and we get to choose how we direct our minds. If we choose to be open to seeing beauty in places that are out of the normal dictations of society, beauty will become available in our surroundings on a constant basis. “We will be surprised to discover beauty in unexpected places where the ungraceful eye would never linger. The graced eye can glimpse beauty anywhere, for beauty does not reserve itself for special elite moments or instances; it does not wait for perfection but is present already secretly in everything. When we beautify our gaze, the grace of hidden beauty becomes our joy and our sanctuary.”***
Ultimately, beauty isn’t just a pretty face but the shinning of the inner soul. “Each face is it’s own landscape and is quietly vibrant with the invisible textures of memory, story, dream, need, want and gift that make up the beauty of the individual life. This is also the grace that love brings into one’s life. As the soul can render the face luminous so can love turn up the light within a person’s life.“*** When we feel the love of another, we feel worthwhile, pursued and lovable. “When we say you are beautiful, it is more than a statement of platitude, it is a recognition and invocation of the dignity, the grandeur and grace of their spirit. There is something in the nature of beauty that goes beyond personality, good looks, image and fashion. When we affirm another’s beauty, we affirm something that cannot be owned or drawn into the grid of small mindedness or emotional need.”***
We have to choose to train our minds to perceive beauty this way. To acknowledge the false implication of outer beauty alone. That there are indeed physically gorgeous people but, that does not necessarily mean that beauty dwells in them only. We need to beautify our gaze.
How do you beautify your gaze from standard responses?
* * First part loosely based on Peter Kreefts thoughts on Beauty (Itunes downloads)
***Quotes taken from “Beauty the invisible embrace” by John O’ Donnohue (pages 1- 32) This book is Celtic faith thoughts on Beauty. It’s one of my favourite authors. I would HIGHLY reccomend this read. Link:http://www.amazon.com/Beauty-Invisible-Embrace-John-ODonohue/dp/0060196432
I married my husband when we were teenagers and we have three children… if anything has taught me beauty it has been our journey of hardship and incredible moments. My husband is my soul mate, my children are my innocence, and my friends are my family. I love life even though I deeply struggle with daily aspects of it. My hope is to encourage people with my writing. If I am venting, I hope to leave the post with a bit of hope or to at least acknowledge that anger, sadness and depression are real emotions that have their appropriate place on this earth. Shame is the real killer not these emotions. I want to ease shame. I also want to ease the burden of boxed perceptions. I like to challenge myself with a new way of thinking every week. The study of brain functions in all forms are my personal hobby. I believe that the church has been sorely lacking in the mental part of humanity. We speak upon the spiritual and sometimes physical but social and mental often get pishposhed to the side. I feel this is a deep travesty that needs to be changed for God made all aspects… I blog about varied topics, depending on my mood. Writing heals me so I do not give much thought to sticking to any one topic. My blog is http://acquiringbalance.blogspot.com/.