On the beautiful 

I’ve been listening to and conducting several conversations about the beautiful lately. I’m practicing listening and learning about my unhealthy fixations. Part of this is attempting  to hear what others say when they define the word “beautiful”.  

  To me, beauty exists as a connection to the transcendent. It’s where the sensory and emotive meet the soul as God greets us with a taste of heaven we cannot quite perceive. Beauty surpasses (but can be held within) pleasing aesthetics but also the face that was ugly and became beautiful once we listened. 

I started this definition (if it can be called that) out as “to me,” which may seem like I think of beauty as subjective. But i don’t. Aesthetics are subjective, but beauty exists objectively. It’s the thing we know when we see it, but can’t totally explain what is. 

20 minutes ago, someone walked in on me dancing and watched for a bit. She told me my dancing was “beautiful”. 

I don’t think she meant I had nice lines or my technique was great because it wasn’t. Aside from the fact I’m primarily self taught and have no turn out, I struggled today because my hamstring is still injured.  My movement is so limited that my expression is hindered by my inability to move how I want to. 

Nonetheless, she pulled me aside to tell me it was beautiful. I think it’s because I was trying to be honest to the music and to my body and to the emotions. It was a private moment witnessed by someone who somehow connected to my own expression. I think it’s because I was trying to participate in something fundamentally human, and therefore, something that echoes the divine. 

I don’t think my dancing can really be considered to achieve “beauty”. And quite possibly this person has very little dance knowledge and assumed I knew what I was doing. Maybe she just thought it was pretty and wanted to comment because she felt presumptuous watching a private moment. But this example, explained in its most idealistic state, helps me to understand what beauty is. 

I think we must strive for beauty in all we do because it connects us to the self, to others and to God. 

If you have a completely different view of beauty, or any thought about beauty at all, I would love to chat. Really truly I’m trying to learn to be a better listener and I want to hear thoughts.

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On the beautiful 

on sweeping

I sweep once a month. The dustpan is full of soil, dead fireflies, dried leaves, the wings of beetles, fruit stickers, crumpled paper, antennae, ashes from the incense i burn every third day, dead skin.

I look through old pictures once every ten days. The images are full of ideas, roses, webs, winter, reminders, squinty eyes, mirrors, lines, comfort, curves, hands.

I hoard letters, journals and pictures. I find my practice of looking back propels me forward rather than holding me in place; I realize it doesn’t work this way for everyone, but I remember healing in sweeping and in being grateful for things come and gone.tumblr_nm1ta0KOfE1u3s7uwo8_1280In order to be well, we must want it. And when broken, the first step is to really and honestly ask ourselves if we want to be well or not. It may seem obvious that health is desired over brokenness, but pain is easy to cling to–we stay broken because it’s all we know and we are afraid of change. 

know yourself.

When broken, we won’t heal without work. But mostly, we won’t heal unless we want to.
if we don’t want to heal from the get-go, then we must work on that first because in the process there will be moments (maybe lots) in which we want to give up. There will be moments when you don’t realize you’ve lost your desire to heal, but you notice regression and apathy. We must check our desires, ask again if we want to heal and remember the things healing will cost.

To convalesce requires nakedness and destruction.You can work and work, but it takes an inner burning to mend–or better yet, to become new.
We try to come up with names for this newness (love, gentleness, mercy, discipline, joy, comfort, kindness, peace, wisdom, patience, goodness, self control, kindness), but newness isn’t even the right word.

Forget the words, remember (if you must) the things you’ve lost, but don’t forget that that which you gain surpasses words.

Healing is always an act of God.
It is nakedness and destruction, but also calm, slow, steady and gentle–these things are held in tension until we find the day when gratitude (not bitterness) covers disappointments.

Listen from about 5:30 on

on sweeping

13 October 2015

Today I’m touring my first divinity school and I’m not sure why I’m so nervous but i couldn’t sleep at all last night.

Both these words and the rain are bringing me life this morning. (and have you ever seen a more calming picture?)

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Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (II Corinthians 3) 

13 October 2015

Maybe someone should disable wordpress after midnight PT II

** I wrote the start of this Wednesday in the Emergency room and forgot to post it.

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Sometimes you’re sitting alone in the hospital, you smell like the inside of a sock, and the fact that whatever muscle connecting your femur and pelvic bone** is pulled and hasn’t stopped aching for 5 hours (3 of which you’ve spent in ER waiting room) is actually a 20x better situation than your closest friend’s current predicament.

I’m going to ask you to do something. Take off your shoes and socks, turn your sock inside out and take a big ol’ wiff cause that’s me. Also my face is actually resembling pepperoni pizza. I think it’s because i haven’t been eating sugar of any kind for 5 days and apparently my body it “detoxifying” itself–aka i’m pepperoni pizza face and my skin is paying me back for being fine during middle school.

Sometimes there’s so much going on that you feel like you’re skimming the surface of all of it without understanding any of it. Every time you pause to try to reflect, you end up falling asleep because you got up early after staying late in the ER and you didn’t realize you were tired until you stopped moving. And then you wake up at 3pm and you’re not sure what day it is because you didn’t go to class or work because you still can’t walk very well.

Also, you can’t put pants on without agitating that hamstring so you tell your dang leg, “Suck it up, Buttercup,” bend over in a lot of pain, and pull up your pants. You start laughing alone in your room because it’s genuinely hilarious that you can’t get your pants on.

me + bae in boston before we went our ways (look, ok, we're in love if you didn't already know)
me + bae in boston before we went our ways (look, ok, we’re in love if you didn’t already know)

On the way to Boston, you talk to a man who sells software about how much you love jesuit priests because what else do you talk about? You keep getting wheeled everywhere because there is no way you can carry all your bags while on crutches. It’s pretty fun until you realize how not-fun it is to be dependent on people. Forget crutches, forget wheelchairs, You’ll walk all through Boston if its the last thing you do (dammit!).

You keep skimming the surface of everything and you forget how to stop and go deep until you have to.  You find yourself in a new city, hardly able to walk, and you’re suddenly alone. Your mom has to leave and your friend who you originally were going to travel with is somewhere out in Massachusetts far from you.

You stop and feel overwhelmed for a moment. But then gratitude starts again because honestly, you’ve been needing time alone and far from the people you know. There’s peace in this moment. You hobble to the public library and find out it’s closed. You find a nice Uber driver to take you to a random cafe far from where you’re staying. He gives you safety tips, offers you his number and you talk about how Pakistan and India hate each other because what else do you talk about? (He also tells you the unsafe areas of Boston where he says “lots of Black people are” and you inwardly cringe knowing now is not the time or place to reprimand someone’s racism).

You get to Diesel Cafe, you sit, you read, you reflect.

And then you find that your selfless actions have been fueled by the wrong things and you’ve been forgetting to thank God for the things you do not have. In other words, you’ve been forgetting to trust God that there are lessons to be learned in all things.

Mostly, you realize that this week, you’ve been doing a lot of praying and have forgotten to listen.


**I found out later that I tore part of my hamstring. So much for “obscure muscle”.

Maybe someone should disable wordpress after midnight PT II