“I miss my paintings” was a comment that my elderly father made during a long spell in hospital and looking around at the bare walls of the ward he was on I could see why. Back at home my fathers walls were covered in art work yet here there was nothing beautiful for him to gaze upon.
Hospitals do a lot for us when we are ill but they are functional, clinical and sterile places – there is little to be found there to feed our souls.
My fathers comment got me thinking about the role of beauty in our lives.
Something inside us warms to beauty. We are drawn to it. We seek it out. We long for it. When we find it we want to stay near it; we want to wrap ourselves up in it and linger there in this safe place for a while.
Intuitively we connect with beauty in a mystifying way. Perhaps this is because when we see beauty it resonates with the beauty that is within us? Perhaps beauty reminds us of what we have long forgotten – that each one of us is beautiful at heart.
Beauty is restful, uplifting, and joyous. When we see beauty it brings out the beautiful in us. Like responds to like. Beauty makes us more beautiful. In the presence of beauty we behave more beautifully. Beauty ignites appreciation; it fosters awe and wonder and mystery. Beauty helps us to connect with our souls and not just with our minds. Beauty is beautifully healing – in its presence our fears subside and love rises.
The wonderful Irish writer John O’Donohue tells us that what we gaze upon we bring into ourselves. When we gaze on beauty we bring beauty into ourselves. And not just beauty all the things that are associated with it too – joy, love, peace, calm, contentment. In this way we are replenished, restored, revived.
Beauty is the perfect antidote for stress and yet how many of us give beauty a priority in our lives?
For instance what is the first thing we connect with when we wake in the morning?
How many of us start our days with something beautiful?
More than likely we do battle with busyness, juggling chores, seeing to the kids, rushing off to work without regard for our need for beauty. Or else we switch on the television or read newspapers that fill our minds with mundane things, idle gossip, news reports, the crises of the world, daily weather reports and a general doom and gloom picture of the world we live in. Worse still in this era of 24/7 news quite often our day not only starts and ends with distressing news images but we receive regular inputs of them throughout the day as well.
Where does all this leave us?
Where is the room for beauty in our lives?
How often throughout our day do we touch base with beauty?
These are helpful questions.
Do we ever give priority to gazing at the morning sky, listening to uplifting music, appreciating the beauty of our gardens, noticing the smile of a loved one, reading a beautiful poem, savouring the smell of a rose or quietly listening to the sound of our own breathing and marvelling at the feeling of being alive?
"Keep something beautiful in your heart" says John O’Donohue and this is good advice because we can only give out what we take in. If we do not take in beauty then we have no beauty to give out.
One thing for sure when we come to the end of our lives it will not be to world affairs that we turn for comfort. Nor will it be the state of our bank accounts, the latest celebratory gossip, concerns about the decor of our homes, advice on the best value holidays this year or what the latest fashion trend is. It will certainly not be to news reports of war, violence, cruelty and injustice.
NO in our last hours here on earth it will be to beauty that we turn for our comfort – art, paintings, music, poetry, touch, song, nature, friendship and love - these will be our longed for companions as we leave this world.
Let us not wait until we are dying or are seriously ill before we realise that these are the things we cannot live without.
So take some time to think - what is it that you need to do today to feel more beautiful?
Begin your journey by making a list of all the things that you can do to bring more beauty into your life RIGHT NOW, and commit to doing at least one of them each day.
Wishing you all a beauty filled day.
The opinions I express here are my own. However I offer them with the word 'syat' next to them. 'Syat' is a word used by the Jain Tribe in India which means 'To the best of my knowledge SO FAR.' In the spirit of openness I invite comments from anyone whether you agree with my point of view or not. In this way we can all learn and grow together. Thank you.