“People are like stained – glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

I have been trying to contemplate all the beauty in my life in the midst of even tragedies, this year especially. I call tragedy–the weeds of life.

The year started out in the first quarter with me losing my dear 88 year old Dad to death. He was a dear, old man, wise, humble, loving, and will be missed on this earth. This is a big, ugly, thorny weed, that will be defeated with persistence to the Light within that he helped me to cultivate.

Then I remember that he and Mom loved birds and dogs and so do I. So, I focus on the beauty of the birds in my backyard. The hummingbirds, iridescent greens, ruby red throats, zipping around, gathering nectar from my hummingbird feeders out my kitchen window. I put out a thistle seed sock feeder and focus on the yellow gold finches: a burst of sunshine; the chickadees: browns, black, grays, like men in tuxes. I watch the brilliant red cardinal chase other cardinals around from bush to bush, tree branch to tree branch. I hear the warbler sing such a beautiful aria. Beauty, provided by creation!

The climbing roses are in my garden, brilliant red and dainty pinks, clematis in her purples and textured starred shape, hydrangeas sporting bunches of purple-y blue flowers, tomato plants green with red tomatoes, basil plants pungent with spicy fragrance.

I enjoy playing with our Greater Swiss Mountain dog. She is so excited when my husband puts on his shoes for a walk. She comes over to me and talks to me about it, “let’s get the show on the road, make papa hurry up and get those shoes on and tied.” I smile in her beauty: broad white chest, white muzzle with red brown sides, red brown eyebrows, shiny black head and torso, white paws, white tipped tail, red brown leg stockings, and narrow white stripe running up her nose between her eyes. “One of the most beautiful swissies I have seen,” says the vet. She is a pretty girl and when I tell her “pretty girl,” she seems to beam with pride.

A friend gets a diagnosis of breast cancer, another falls and has to have a metal plate screwed into her clavicle and this will have to be removed with another surgery, another friend’s husband has prostate cancer and we just have finally spent enough time together to get “caught up,” on family news; a neighbor is battling both prostate cancer and melanoma. I get a lab report I do not like on myself and am discouraged, yet hopeful that at least I can try and do something about it. This is ugliness to me. Yet, can some beauty be found even in ugliness?

I am open to finding beauty in the midst of ugliness. I went to the 80th birthday party of the neighbor with the prostate cancer and melanoma problems. His wife put on a beautiful 80th birthday party—with beauty. The tables topped with gorgeous big yellow sunflowers; the food and cake spread breath taking; the people who showed up filled the room with energy, well wishes, hugs, smiles, laughs–beauty! His family was in attendance from far away. He beamed when he spoke of his grand daughters who were in attendance, and his new son in law. This is beauty.

I just saw my friend with the plate in her clavicle at a gathering of friends, and she’s healing, and able to smile, even though she’s gotten another crack on the opposite side of the clavicle from the screws put in. But, she knows she is healing and this too shall pass. This is beauty.

I just got back from seeing our daughter in the Pacific Northwest where she lives now, with me living far away here in the Midwest. She gets married in a month in Seattle. I attended her bridal shower next to a gorgeous Japanese garden. I saw beauty in her youth and her bridal attendants youth, energy, positives, joyful attitudes. I saw beauty in the love of all ladies in attendance for this major life event of the bride and groom, family and friends showing up to be witnesses to this special time. I saw beauty in the way these young women literally held Grandmother up to cross rounded, slippery stones with her legs in braces. Beauty in compassion. Beauty in Grandmother’s determination to take the short-cut and persist through obstacles with grit, like granny on outward bound. This is beauty.

My husband just got home the same weekend I got home and he and his brother had to go through nursing homes to find the best place for their ailing, broken down mother, who is in the final phases of her life. This is beauty mixed with ugliness. End stages of life are ugly to me, yet there is beauty in the process of journeying with other humans in the last phases of life. Loving sons, who want the best for their mother and who kept her in her own home with 24/7 nursing care for several years out of love for her. Who visit her even when she doesn’t remember it. Ugliness mixed with beauty. Light shining through the dimness. Light being revealed from within. This beauty among the weeds.

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