Wednesday, March 20, 2013


"Have you written about us on your blog?"


"Did you write about how handsome and strong we all are?" (I think he actually used the word "strapping" in there somewhere.)

"No, actually, I thought there were more important things to say about you."

That's the gist of a conversation between a student and me yesterday. Of late we've been talking and writing about beauty.  Yesterday and today, students have been presenting PowerPoint presentations on their images of beauty.  

Not all the pictures in the PowerPoints were amazing images.  It was the personal significance to the student that pointed to the experience of beauty: 

"This picture of the Camino de Santiago reminds me of the amazing experience I had while walking it."  

"I chose this picture of my friends because they are so important in my life."  
"This monologue  from Shakespeare shows my love for theater.  While some people think Shakespeare is boring, I love the way he uses language."  

"I chose this picture of a detention slip, because things like getting a detention can ultimately lead us to a lesson; learning from experience is beautiful." 

Other images were less personal, but still brought out important manifestations of beauty: 

"I chose a picture of Adele because she is not interested in how she looks, but rather on what she does with her gift."  Beauty is more than skin deep. 

"The gay pride rainbow shows that love is beautiful, regardless of who is sharing it" (images of gay couples followed the flag image).  Love is beautiful, in whatever form it takes. 

"In this picture of the race finish line, you can see the runners put everything into the race. There is something to be said for giving it your all."  Effort and sacrifice are beautiful. 

"I chose this image of nature because I think it is amazing how our eyes see images that are not 'intended.'" The human brain interpreting what it sees is an amazing and beautiful process.

Today's message from my calendar of African proverbs is this: "The state of one's souls is more important than outward appearance."  I am hoping that this is the ultimate realization the boys come away with. Clearly many have already. I hope my short conversation yesterday helped my student know that I don't care much about whether he is handsome or has physical strength.  I'm not in the classroom to improve his outward appearance.  I care much more about the state of his soul. I care about the soul of each experience. I care about the soul of the world, the soul formed by the interconnection of your soul, my soul, and everyone and everything else's soul.  

I care because if his, your, my, our souls are in a good state, that goodness will ripple out, adding joy, happiness, love to the world.  Our collective soul will be the better for the good state of its parts.  Likewise, if he, you, I, we are not doing so well, the pain will ripple out, causing more pain along its path, hurting the state of our collective well-being. 

Early on in our discussions a student defined beauty as "something that touches the soul."  We need beauty in our lives; we need our souls touched, because, as one student put it:

These things open me to the Divine because they teach me something about myself.
I have to see these things as beautiful to see myself as beautiful, and I have to see myself as beautiful to notice the Divine influence in everything that surrounds me.

When we experience beauty, not a surface feeling of pleasure, but a deep connection to something greater than ourselves, we experience the Divine. I hope your soul is touched every day, many times a day, so that you are reminded of the vastness of your own beauty, so that you notice the Divine influence that surrounds you and lives within you. 

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