On beauty and acceptance

photo retrieved from http://www.kssos.org

Boxing Day- and the roadways to the city are crowded with would-be holiday shoppers.

I am driving in rush hour traffic. But then again, it will be rush hour all day today, cars pressing in on one another as they inch closer to the stores and malls. I drive through a set of lights and just about come up to another when I see out of the corner of my eye a lone person to my far left standing in a sloped field. They stand on the curvature of the land poised with a camera in hand pointing the lens upward as if to catch something where the land meets the sky. I glance again, taking my eyes off the road for the briefest of seconds, wondering what it could be that they might see in this largely barren field. There are no trees, just scrub. No animals or vegetation to speak of. Just rugged terrain and sky from which to compose the landscape. This is not a place, in my view, where one would choose to take a picture. I drive on perplexed and take one last lingering look as the photographer snaps a set of frames.

I am left to consider for the remainder of the day as to what beauty was in the eye of the beholder.

As beauty is often left to the subjectivity of the viewer, so too are opinions, thoughts, outlooks, judgements, viewpoints and estimations. How many times do we observe someone and make a snap judgment based on what we think is right or acceptable. How often do we project on others what we ourselves might feel in a given situation, judging that person according to our own particular standard or set of convictions. How often do we fail to see the beauty in the barrenness of life- the good amidst the sadness? Fail to look for the beauty in one another, only choosing to see the error?

I too later point the camera lens to capture pictures of those I love, things and places I hold dear. I consider how I often try to frame things just so- eliminating the blemishes so that everything looks just perfect for the shot. How often I am caught up in creating something beautiful that I forget to see the beauty in a work in progress- an unaffected, unaltered image of life in its normal state. How often I look for my own children to pose in stances that belie their true personalities in an effort to project an image of beauty. A work of creativity and craftsmanship.

My eyes do not always see the best in what is right in front of me- do not always choose to see the best in those I love and hold closest to my heart. Too many times, I want to fix something, change it. So that it suits my understanding better. So that it jives with what I feel, what I would do. Forgetting often in my weakness and humanity that each one is uniquely created and fashioned to be the individual they are. The individual they were meant to be. We were not meant to be clones- we were meant to be different. So that who I am- my perspectives and viewpoints and ideas and understandings- while they might be different than yours- are still valid and worthy. Needful of consideration.

As also are yours. So much so should I consider yours.

Who we were made to be, while different from one another- these are prototypes both necessary and essential for this world to be complete. We must see the best in one another, because on our own, we are incomplete. We were not created to be carbon copies but rather made so as to complement one another, complete with our various personalities, characters, experiences and understandings. And while iron sharpens iron so too do our differences make us whole. The things that others do and say, while not what we would choose, might make us even better as individuals than we might have thought possible, creating in us empathy, compassion and love.

Love helps us to see the best in people- helps us to accept what we cannot change and hope for the best. It’s what really matters when it comes to our closest relationships. It’s the glue that helps us stick.

A lone photographer stood in a vacant field on a Saturday afternoon looking for beauty amongst the dying grasses in winter. Looking for something no one else could see. How much more then must we look for the beauty, look for the best in one another?

That one small detail…

Everyone has at least one detail about them- one missing piece of the puzzle. One clue, one secret, one aspect of their life. That if you knew that one thing, it would make ALL the difference.

And how often do we take the time to stop and consider that people are more than meets the eye? That people are the composite of all those details- overt and subtle, big and small- details when viewed as the entire package, make a person unique and whole?

And so I did just that.

I took the time, a day or so ago, to notice. Took time to show an interest. To listen. To ask. To really feel what it might be like to be this person. I felt it, even if for just a moment. I was quiet. I spoke when necessary. I heard. And I came to realize: Unless I stop and truly see, truly listen, truly understand, those details go unnoticed. And it’s the details that make all the difference. A spotlight on the details helps to clarify and shine light on dark corners of the soul.

Everyone has at least one detail about them that if you knew it, it just might help you tolerate them, like them, love them, understand them more. It just might make the difference between writing that person off and giving them a second chance. It just might make the difference between forming a positive opinion as opposed to making a negative one. It might make the difference between acceptance and rejection.

And you never know. Looking for the beauty- the humanity in the little things (in that which is small and hidden deep inside, which we all carry around within us each and every day), just might make us more aware that those details EXIST. Just might make all the difference for us in understanding the bigger stuff that everyone sees about that person we ‘just don’t GET’. Sometimes we THINK we understand, just because things are obvious and visible.

It is often what is hidden that truly reveals the condition of our soul.

Truth: we all deserve a sober, second thought from one another. And we all need to be understood by each other, at some level or another. And even if we never choose to share that which is deeply kept within the confines of our private person, we can still offer kindness and compassion to our brother. To our sister. To the children. To those we understand and even by times, to those we don’t.

We can still offer grace (it’s been offered to us…). And sometimes that grace cracks open the door to understanding more.