Monday, May 9, 2016

Achievable Beauty

Well, life seems to have converged into a strange triangulation of happiness, sadness, busy-ness, growth, change, and peace. I guess that's more like a strange hexagulation, but I'm fairly confident that's not a thing. Which would actually be fitting. Because that's kind of how it feels sometimes.

In April I was on my way home from Canada, and while I'd been there, a friend was visiting England. My always-wish-it-was-my-home England. The pictures posted online were breathtaking. Literally breathtaking, and it's hard to believe that places like this exist. And that they are able to be captured. And I laughed at the thought - the thought of my pictures, if I should ever see such beauty. How is it even possible that all the pictures I take seem to indicate that I live in 2D? They're flat and boring, and no where near representative of the beauty that I'm actually taking in.

I was scrolling through the pictures on facebook, and seriously, legitimately, wishing that such prettiness existed where I am. I was driving home from Canada - And I saw something. It wasn't England, or Edinburgh... it wasn't even Colorado or California. It was just plain old Pennsylvania. But it was really beautiful. Not in the obvious way, of course. It wasn't overwhelming. But it was...pretty. It wished I had the skills to capture the beauty contained in the picture of my eyes. Because if I could, you'd see it. I was trying to think of a way to describe it, and the thought came to me...

It's achievable beauty.

When I was a teenager, and interested in the dissection and classification of the prettiness of the world at large - which is fairly ill-advised, but human nature nonetheless - I developed a "system". It was actually more of a revelation as I observed all the faces... It wasn't like a 1 to 10 scale or anything. It was more like a breakdown of the "other worldly" into the realm of the achievable. Hollywood actress on the cover of a magazine? Achievable beauty. Given just a little attention by way of make up, clothing, and confidence, (and a good photographer) anyone would be able to look that good. I was sure of it. These people weren't more naturally beautiful than anyone else, and in some cases, less so. And yet they are admired. It might take a little work, but I saw their beauty was achievable.

And somehow I thought my strange teenage classification system worked better in this broader way. It might not take your breath away. But it probably should. It might be achievable, but that doesn't make it less beautiful. The "other worldly" beauty of the swiss alps or the grand canyon can be appreciated in the smaller scale hill full of back yard variety wildflowers that kids like to roll down. But I've seen Grande Beauty that overwhelms me, and the pretty little hill full of kids isn't it. Or is it?

I bet as life wears on the people of Venice, they somehow don't view their picturesque existence as all that grand. They see the inconvenience, and the old, and wish for something different. But I'd trade places with them, wouldn't I? And I bet to one who's wanted a husband and children, the flower-full hill with messy children would bring tears to the eyes.

I think that as I was driving home from Canada, halfway through the journey in the boring bits of Pennsylvania on April 2nd, I realized - in the heart revelation kind of way - something old, and yet something new. It's an old idea, and one that I am familiar with. But it wasn't mine, not completely. I guess it finally traveled from my head all the way down to my heart, and it settled there on that day. I came to see the beauty. I came to appreciate the beauty that I have, not in the literal sense, but as a picture of life, on the whole. Instead of wishing it was better, different, older, newer, cleaner, brighter, and more picture-perfect. Because it doesn't have to be England. Sometimes it can be Pennsylvania.

To me, Achievable Beauty is a good reminder to look up, and see that all I have is enough - It's not an uglier version of something more beautiful, it IS beauty. It might overwhelm at times, and be slow and steady at others, but it's possible to be wholly immersed in beauty, in a totally "achiveable" way.

While I am completely unsure I am sufficiently translating my heart in to words, I'll have to let it rest there for now, and write more later perhaps. My poor neglected blog is on the not-so-short list of things I love and writing is something that helps me sort out thoughts, and I'd like to do a bit more of that - so I'd like to get back to regular posting, but this is all the time I have for today:-)

A Mother's Prayer

Mom, There are so many things that could be said, and yet adequate words are elusive. But I'll try anyway. I guess it always comes down to the valiant attempt, doesn't it? There are so many days, and moments within those days that I feel at a loss. Because life holds challenges, and surprises, and God rarely takes to the task of fitting us for His Glory in a way that we anticipate, and feel prepared to handle. So much of His plan feels beyond our control, and we are left with our worrisome inclinations. We have not much to lean on, as the bits of self are stripped steadily away, and we look in the mirror at all that remains, and what started out as "not much" has whittled itself down to a pathetic "even less". And we feel that loss. What do we even have to offer? But then, there is Wisdom. It doesn't always look like you want it to, and seems to always require more than one is readily prepared to give, because aren't we always more inclined to take the widest road with the clearest skies? Wisdom doesn't come in neatly wrapped packaging, tidy lists, or structured how-to's. It has to be searched. It has to be obtained. And it costs. On the road less traveled, it can cost a great deal by way of comfort and self-interest. I am forever grateful to have seen Truth sought after, and held close. I am so glad I've benefitted from your exchange-of-payment. You were willing to do what the Lord required of you. It's an example I turn to often, and it gives hope for the journey. I have seen a life with "even less" be blessed with abundance, when circumstances of difficulty, tragedy, pain, and sadness have threatened to unglue. But then, God. It's been a flawed journey, as they all are, but, at the end of the day, I know that lessons will be learned, applied, taught and lived, because that's kind of a mom thing isn't it? So thank you Mom - Because I was Mothered well. And your example lives on, as we raise the next generation to love the Lord, search out Truth, and pray, daily, for Wisdom. We learned well from you. Thank you for living life openly for us to see first hand that nothing is above God's sight or care.

"This world is not as it should be,
But the Saviour opens eyes to see
All that's beautiful and true."