Beautiful people

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

Beauty is so easy to see in people who are youthful and energetic - the ones whose faces grace the covers of magazines.

As one who provides care for people, including the elderly, I've had to think a lot about how to regard someone who is not apparently beautiful. Someone who may be scarred, ill, obese; perhaps even angry, frustrated, panicked, hopeless.

In order to see the beauty that does indeed exist in each individual, we need to look to the real character of the person. To the unchangeable.

Pick an elderly person you know and care about - your father, grandmother, aunt, even great-grandfather. How do you think about him or her? Do you think of the person in terms of wrinkles and physical ailments? Or do you remember inherent grace, joy, love, orderliness, wisdom, peace? If you do the latter, you are making an acknowledgment in some degree of the person's true and permanent identity. This is spiritual identity. An identity that continues, regardless of physical appearance or even state of mind.

When we are aware of a person's spiritual identity, we are really becoming conscious of the fact that God is expressing Himself/Herself in all of us. And as a result of this, we must become less conscious of physical characteristics. It's in this way that anyone can begin to see the spiritual qualities of love, life, joy, exuberance, strength, expressed in those around us. And in ourselves.

Maybe it's because we love, say, our grandfather, that it's easier for us to recognize such qualities in him. "Love never loses sight of loveliness," according to the Christian Science textbook. "Its halo rests upon its object. One marvels that a friend can ever seem less than beautiful" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 248). I've learned that this love for a particular individual can become more universal.

Jesus Christ loved people unconditionally. He saw each one as the child of God, as innocent, pure, and free. This spiritual beauty that Jesus identified so readily enabled him to heal many, many people of diseases and shortcomings. Jesus also indicated that we each can understand the love God has for His/Her children - and, in so doing, can heal as he did: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do" (John 14:12). By constantly acknowledging the power of God and God's goodness, we begin to witness more of this goodness.

If we come to see that God is all-powerful, then we come to see that good must be here and now. If God is All, then there can be no power but good. Therefore, qualities like hatred, shyness, ugliness, weakness, impurity, and undesirability cannot come from God, cannot have true power, cannot define who we are.

One day, while I was assisting a woman with bathing, I felt very aware that God was present and omnipotent. I was sure that God had created us each spiritual - already beautiful, always perfect, and forever complete. This woman had some ugly marks on her face, but by the end of the bath they had fallen away, revealing smooth skin. Later, a friend of hers said that those blemishes had been on her face for many years.

If I had been focusing on the physical appearance of a weak, elderly person with facial marks, that is all I would have seen. But I feel that prayer, acknowledging God's good power and the beauty of His creation, enabled me to see that power and beauty right there in the woman.

We each have the ability to see more beauty in others. The more we know of God, the more we can agree with these words: "As the physical and material, the transient sense of beauty fades, the radiance of Spirit should dawn upon the enraptured sense with bright and imperishable glories....

"Man, governed by immortal Mind, is always beautiful and grand. Each succeeding year unfolds wisdom, beauty, and holiness" (Science and Health, pg. 246).

You can read in-depth articles about God in a monthly magazine, The Christian Science Journal.

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