Reflecting on Beauty: If I were a planter of trees

A Planter of Trees

Click on the picture to see the story


If there is light in the soul,

There will be beauty in the person.

If there is beauty in the person,

There will be harmony in the house.

If there is harmony in the house,

There will be order in the nation.

If there is order in the nation,

There will be peace in the world.

-Chinese Proverb

Last week, I found my voice.  I discovered something about beauty this week.  We all have great beauty to offer to the world.  This digital story is in the form of poem.  I created it using VoiceThread.

My whole life, I have been asking myself, “What should I do to serve humanity?”  There was always a sense of sacrifice there, as though I can’t do what I really want to do, what means most to me.  I should do what will serve most.  But I have been beaten nearly to death by the “shoulds” of life.  Something has been niggling at my soul each time I asked that “should” question.  “What about your heart?  What about your dreams?  What about what you have to say?”  I  have avoided paying attention to that voice by telling myself I was being noble and service-oriented, by wanting to speak for others.  I see now that those are excuses to hide from my fear:  “What if what I have to say isn’t helpful, or beautiful, or meaningful enough?”

But I am listening now, and I realize that my true voice, the voice of my heart, is most beneficial to the world.  When I listen to that voice, it always helps me.  Why should it not be helpful if I share that voice with others?  Even if it helps only one person, I have served from the center of my being, instead of slightly off to the side with the “shoulds”.  And I can be of more benefit to others if I help them find their own voices instead of speaking for them.

I was sitting with my husband  in Cafe Copenhagen, a local European cafe, when I realized this.  It is an elegant and delicately sophisticated place, sparsely but comfortably decorated.  Colorful paintings by Danish artists accent the clean, white surroundings.   I had just eaten an exquisite meal of linguini carbonara.  Soulful music played quietly in the background.  All that beauty was speaking to me.  “This is for you! Share yours!”  The thought that I had to share my voice, instead of bow to the “shoulds” that always swirled in my head, gave me such a feeling of joy and freedom that I was overcome.  Tears spilled from my eyes as I laughed and laughed.

 We all deserve beauty in our lives…the beauty of an orderly, balanced life, the beauty of a true voice, the beauty of a peaceful meal with loved ones, the beauty of a magnificent sunset…

New Mexico,Tramonto Sunset

New Mexico,Tramonto Sunset, by Paolo Motta

When did you last share the beauty in your heart, even with yourself?

What can you do to bring more beauty into your life?  Even if it’s just a few picked wild flowers on your table in the morning, see what a difference beauty makes in your life.  Here are ten things you can do to bring more beauty into your world:

  1. Watch the sunset.
  2. Do the dishes for someone, (including yourself).
  3. When you are eating food you love, chew it thoroughly, enjoy every bit of flavor.
  4. Share what is in your heart with someone.
  5. Dance in the rain. 
  6. Plant a tree or a flower, or just go and be with some.
  7. Look at your child.  Really SEE her at least ten times a day.
  8. Breathe in deeply when you smell something wonderful.  Take the time for roses or cookies or linguini carbonara.
  9. Luxuriate in the sensation of touch.  Let the feeling of something wonderful touching your skin really sink in.
  10. Look for beauty in every moment.  It is there.  Where is it?

Reflecting Assertiveness: Stand Tall

Why was this story so hard for me to make?  Was it that assertiveness has so many aspects?  There is confidence and calm.  There is repect and true expression.  There is the courage to be yourself and stand tall in the face of bullying, peer pressure and the possibility of being “unpopular”. 

No.  It was not that I had a hard time choosing what to focus on.  It is because this virtue is a real challenge for me.  But in pondering all these aspects, in reading and researching their expression, I found myself being inspired to stand tall. I found myself saying, “Yes, I will support you, but not at the expense of my own dreams.  Let’s find a way to work together.”  I found the courage to stick to my detox diet because I am worth it, even if my sugar cravings don’t think so.  I found the voice inside myself that is so quiet I had to get entirely still to hear it. (Hot baths and good music work wonders for that, by the way.)  That voice reminded me that I am never alone, that I always have a fan, someone who loves me, no matter what the rest of the world thinks.  What surprised me most is that it was my own voice. 

“Turn thy sight unto thyself, that thou mayest find Me standing within thee, mighty, powerful and self-subsisting.”

 (Baha’u’llah, The Arabic Hidden Words)


Reflecting Acceptance: Calm in the face of a storm of rage

Varqa’s story leaped to my mind immediately when I began pondering the virtue of acceptance.  Though some may not see acceptance as a virtue but rather as an action, I see it as a powerful virtue that requires many other virtues to achieve: courage, compassion, love, detachment, discipline, faith.  We must accept ourselves as we are if we are to progress in our development.  It takes courage to look at ourselves honestly.  We must be compassionate with ourselves to break the cycle of guilt and blame.  Love is possible when we are compassionate with ourselves.  With that love, we can find the ability to let go of the constant desire to control our circumstances.  We can more easily accept them for the lessons they are.  Discipline is required to maintain that sense of serenity.  And we must have faith if we are to believe that we are the beautiful, noble human beings God created, and that we can develop, we can advance.  This process applies when we think of those we love as well. 

So pondering Varqa’s story, and that of his son, has been helpful to me to deepen my understanding of the first virtue in this year of reflection.  What are your thoughts?  What lessons has your life taught you about acceptance?  What lessons have other’s examples taught you?