I was listening to a podcast from On Being yesterday. I try to listen to this, or something similar, once a week or so. If I’m honest, I’ll say that I intend to listen far more than I actually listen.
When I do manage to make this time for myself, I am almost always nourished. Listening to people talk about love, life, science – any of these deeper, interior realms – almost always makes my daily life a little better.
A little more beautiful.
And that’s what I want to talk about today: beauty.
First, I want to clarify what I mean by beauty. Beauty isn’t “pretty.” It isn’t “cute.” Beauty has a fierceness to it, a depth and a resilience inside of it, a meaning below the surface of external things. A sense more than a picture.
That’s the kind of beauty I mean.
I spent the afternoon wandering the Chinese gardens here in town: the careful attention to detail, the repetition of pattern and line, it all came together to create something beautiful and soothing. Everything had a rightness, a relationship with everything else. It felt good there. Even though there was sadness alongside of it, knowing how much Matt would have liked it there, the overall feeling was one of – rightness. Beauty in the architecture of place.
Beauty is healing. Beauty is medicine.
It’s not that being in beauty, or noticing beauty, makes things better. If you’ve read my words for any time at all, you’ll know I bristle against anything that suggests your pain can be easily cheered up or fixed.
Beauty doesn’t so much fix anything as it creates more space in your heart.
It makes space for your pain to unfold and be heard, to be held in something nourishing and deep.
Beauty is something that brings you closer to your own core. It sits beside you somewhere, even when your world is in deepest, darkest pain.
Maybe beauty is even closer to you then. Maybe it’s a companion.
I know it is for me.
I’m wishing you some moments of deep beauty in the coming week. Wherever it can be found, lean into that.
How about you? How has the presence of beauty supported you in your grief? If there aren’t enough places of deep beauty in your life now, how might you find them? And even more important – how will you know when you’re there? Let us know in the comments.
Mark Liebenow says
When I say that someone’s soul is beautiful, I am saying that there is wholeness, the right things are in place, even with some messy edges. What I like about beauty in everyday life is the surprise, and it’s the surprise that opens up my often closed-in, narrow-view life and makes space for whatever I’m struggling with to be nurtured. Good reflection, Megan!
Joyce June says
my place like your Chinese garden is Brookgreen Gardens in Pawleys Island SC … I’m in the zone … something different is blooming every day … or walking the beach at Huntington State Park … it just doesn’t get any better than that … even with a broken heart!
Roxanne del Rosario says
Thank you, once again, Megan… For bringing things to my attention I hadn’t thought of yet, with only 2 months behind me since my sweet husband’s death. For making me think about things I haven’t allowed myself to think of yet. Even though “my” world has felt ugly, and it’s been hard to see past that, the world in general hasn’t changed at all. The beauty is still there, I just haven’t allowed myself to see it. I’m getting ready to move in with my mom and stepdad for awhile, whose home and backyard connect with the forest, here in the Pacific Northwest. It had always been my husband’s favorite place to be since moving up here to WA from San Diego back in 2009; mine, as well. The beauty of my mom’s gardens… The forest all around us, with the occasional visits from the deer, the quail, the raccoons and the many squirrels. It’s been difficult to be there without him now… and yet I’ll be living there (again) within a couple of weeks. I want so badly to be in a place in my heart and in my mind that will let me see the beauty again; to really appreciate it, the way we both always have. One can hope. Thank you for at least making me consciously think about it. I appreciate you, and your honest, beautiful (even though sometimes difficult for me to “hear”) writings… They do give me hope.
Hi Megan, I loved your comment about doing things that nourish you. I’m blessed with 3 grief friends & I’ve never been able to describe how they help me until now. Your term is perfect. I feel nourished after I spend time with them.
Reflecting on your comments about beauty reminds me of what my plain speaking Uncle Charlie use to say when we got all dressed up & we asked him if our new dresses looked beautiful; he’d tell us it wasn’t the dresses that made us beautiful but what was inside of us. Wise man!
Kathleen sobczak says
Thank-you for ” on being”
It helped me when my dad died. It was April 24 & New England was having a slow Spring. I left to fly down to Northern Virginia where Spring had showed her mantle of “spring green”, flowers, & colorful birds flitting about. (I wrote about Cardinals a while ago & how there was a male outside my mom’s & sister’s houe).
Afger the time of sequestration (a week in real-time) I returned to my Northern climes to find our trees, flowers, & winged ones all displaying their Spring regalia.
It gave me Faith & Hope that things would be better & that his own “life” had only moved to another realm.
I started really noticing, and taking pictures of the amazing sunrises and sunsets – we live in a rural area with our sunrise in the east and the sunset over the mountains in the west totally unobstructed. My son was killed as a passenger in a vehicle rollover in October – it is so hard, it was the week before his 28th birthday.
I try to see him in the beauty of the sunrises and sunsets.
I feel you!
Tracey A says
I have been exploring the nature of beauty a lot lately. I have realized it is deeper than what I traditionally considered beautiful. I used to think beauty was primarily nature and art (visual art, music, poetry). Now I see it in things like a kindness to a friend, an organized space, a cup of tea. With that new understanding, I am living with the intention to notice, accept, choose, and create beauty in its myriad forms. I hope you all find a little beauty in or around you today and every day.
Maria DePrince says
Last month my family and I went on vacation to the Grande Canyon. We stayed over night. Our hotel window over looked this majestic sight! I watched the sun rise and the sun set. I told my husband and daughter, as we were soaking in this majestic sight, I found comfort and peace there. We sat on a bench looking at beauty for hours. I totally understand what Megan was saying here. Once again, as I follow this page, I’m finding some normalcy. Thank you! Thank you for you!
I love walking in the twilight through the local wetlands with birds flying in to roost for the night… it’s somehow ethereal and I feel my husband more clearly than in the daytime. I can talk out loud to him or reflecting about us and it doesn’t seem mad. The beauty of that time of day makes every tiny thing more profound and more appreciated.