The Grace of Beauty
The Grace of Beauty is a puzzling concept, mostly because of our preconceived notions of beauty. Hollywood and the fashion industry have defined beauty for most of the world for decades. However, before the advent of these industries, beauty wore many faces.
The ancestors saw beauty in nature. Sunrises and sunsets were observed in awe and ritual. The spirit of plants and flowers was seen and respected. The ancient ones, even found beauty in animals so rich and important that they recognized them as sacred.
Matthew Fox, priest and theologian said, “Animals are here in part to grant glimpses of the grace of beauty.” I had never pondered this type of grace before. When I thought of it, I immediately recognized how we could see the beauty of animals. But, grace? I was going to need more than a few minutes to reflect on this.
So, I began looking at the photos I had taken of animals over the years. Hundreds of birds, our cats and dogs, other people’s cats and dogs, chipmunks, butterflies, dragonflies and then, I found my frog pictures.
The frog (or toad) is not what some would call beautiful in colloquial terms, unless you happened to be another frog or toad. But, when I look at them, I see beauty. Their color, the way they can sit as if frozen, the quickness when they do move and, dare I say it, their grace!
Early on in our reflections on Grace, we defined Grace as the Divine’s blessing or favor upon a soul and the blessing of our gifts and talents. All creatures – not simply humans – have Grace. Animals most certainly have the Grace to teach humans, something Native and Indigenous people have known for thousands of years.
What lessons do frogs have to teach me about their Grace of beauty? I am learning to sit quietly and “be.” Frogs are very Zen! I am learning that when it is required, to move swiftly to resolve a situation, but to then return to being at peace. I am learning that beauty isn’t about how we look outside, but absolutely what is happening within our being.
With this new idea of Grace, I began looking for the Grace of beauty in other animals, including humans. I found so many grace-filled lessons just waiting to be taught and learned. Grace abounds in the wisdom of squirrel to gather what it needs to survive, of skunk to repel that which can be harmful, of snake to shed the old in order to stay healthy and strong. So many lessons, so much beauty and Grace!
Humans, however, don’t always see the Grace of Beauty in each other. Because of the constant bombardment of media, beauty has become a shallow covering worn to attract others. True Grace of Beauty is found in the eyes of a mother holding her child, in an elder gazing at the love of their life, in a young man working to support his aging parents, in a young woman learning to cope alone and in the children at play.
The Grace of Beauty can be seen in daily life as humans struggle to survive. This Grace helps us have the strength to move forward in a world of chaos. Grace of Beauty enables us to hope for a better tomorrow.
Grace resides within us all, yet, the ability to recognize it can slip away from us. Just as a heart can grow cold and spirit no longer enter it, so too, grace ignored and unseen can become something that is no longer recognizable. Grace of Beauty is a blessing that our world is in great need of at this time. We must refocus our eyes and hearts to inform our brains to see and hold as valuable the Grace of Beauty in all life. Our World depends upon it.