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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Awakening Sleeping Beauty

Beautiful times are fleeting moments we too seldom appreciate for what they are. Many resplendent occasions occur naturally and waft through our lives like elusive butterflies. And so they should. If we attempt to capture and hold them forever, they would only die by our inappropriate and awkward intrusion. As English novelist and poet Thomas Hardy once said, “The beautiful things of the earth become more dear as they elude pursuit.”

The exotic, the truly wondrous times seldom reveal their making. Mystery increases their alluring nature, and people inevitable seek to duplicate beautiful feelings, which is next to impossible. Painters and sculptures may capture symbols of beauty on canvas or stone, but these works of art are merely reproductions. Beauty may be as easily produced by the works of gardeners or careworkers, so many beautiful moments are often such byproducts of everyday people's lives.

The essence of beauty is crystalline yet evanescent. Like diamonds, genuinely beautiful moments are rare wonders, yet unlike precious, palpable gems, beautiful times are intangible. Poet Jeanette Winterson says, "Whatever it is that pulls the pin, that hurls you past the boundaries of your own life into a brief and total beauty, even for a moment, it is enough."

The rarity of beautiful experiences in life requires one to be attentive in order to savor the reality of such moments. Creating stunning attacks on the senses, beauty can numb people and render them unable to reason. Beauty slips into human souls and permeates centers of control, and with intoxicating admiration, people often believe they can somehow control it. Others believe they can cultivate it in their lives. They foolishly wish to perpetuate peerless beauty of the body or of the mind which nature, itself, strictly prohibits.

A chuckle of a happy child, a kiss of tender love, a smile from a close friend, a warming touch of consolation, a fragrance from a rose, a rush of intense anticipation, an unexpected pleasure – beautiful moments are precious and too few. They do not require intense preparation for their arrival or demand money for their services. They release their pure, simple joy and then depart. They quickly escape free to come and go at will.

In truth, beautiful times touch us daily in our waking sleep. We must learn to identify them with open, discerning eyes and to acknowledge them with gracious minds. Perhaps we crowd them out unintentionally: We become too busy or too close-minded to feel their presence. Or, maybe elders have instructed us to be too cautious or too judgmental about signs of beauty and love. We fear opening ourselves up to the potential imprint of beauty upon our lives. Maybe many of us are just too reluctant to accept beautiful times for what they are – rare treasures for our needy senses.

At times we should realize our ability to return to innocence and to rediscover the joy felt by our younger, softer souls. Where passion and tenderness and imagination meet, beautiful times dwell.

When Beauty and Beauty Meet


When Beauty and Beauty meet
All naked, fair to fair,
The earth is crying-sweet,
And scattering-bright the air,
Eddying, dizzying, closing round,
With soft and drunken laughter;
Veiling all that may befall
After -- after --

Where Beauty and Beauty met,
Earth's still a-tremble there,
And winds are scented yet,
And memory-soft the air,
Bosoming, folding glints of light,
And shreds of shadowy laughter;
Not the tears that fill the years
After -- after --

Rupert Brooke, 1912
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