Monday morning as the sun streamed through my blinds-pulled-as-high-as-they-go office windows, I touched and greeted my three plants. Hand to leaves reaching towards light, “You are beautiful.” Fingers touching the new leaf cascading to the ground, “You are beautiful.” And the magenta blossoms made more vibrant against forest green, “You are beautiful.”
Then to the only other creature in the office, I said, touching hand to heart and making a small circle as I’ve seen my friend do, “You are beautiful.” I knew that each affirmation was a connection to something beyond the object of my attention, deeper than just acknowledging each being.
A few months ago I met an amazing young woman, fragile and strong, as we all are, but more transparently so than many of us dare in public spaces. She shared her story of trauma and healing, both of which continue to weave through her life. Upon our second meeting, after hearing her offering of her whole broken self, I felt the need to tell her.
“May I touch your face?” With her permission I put my hands gently on her cheeks and looked into her eyes. “You are beautiful.” I felt a surge of Life between us. I wondered how the world would change if we greeted each other by acknowledging this truth of what/who/how we all are.
The women’s group I am a part of took on the practice of recognizing our own awesomeness each and every day for a month. Some were uncomfortable with the exercise. It wasn’t always easy to do.
I am not always faithful to the practices we are invited into, but this one, I did. As we were instructed, I listed two things each day: a success like daring to reach out to that handsome and intriguing man (who said “yes!”), the difficult work of admitting my own deficiencies, the simple knowledge that I could make a good bean salad. Every day I managed to find two reasons to declare, “I am awesome.”
The exercise was a reminder of all the good that is within.
The month ended and so did the exercise. I quickly forgot. I remembered again. Like the tide, I forgot and remembered, forgot and remembered. This pattern of seeing self-scarcity and self-abundance continues.
My plants are thriving. I don’t greet them with care every day. I usually only remember on Mondays, when I offer them the part of their sustenance I control.
Water: source of life.
Love: source of life.
In all truth, right now, I am thriving, too. There are people in my life who are hurting and I cannot ease their pain. I cannot change their situations, because my actions are not the source of their pain. So I offer love in my incomplete, aiming-at-unconditional-but-not-always-doing-it-well way.
The world is hurting. From dead Syrian children washed up on shores to abuse behind doors, to gangs, guns, wars, there is so much I cannot change.
But I can offer myself. I can offer my willingness to change me, the only part of the interconnected web of Being over which I have dominion.
As I change myself, I change the world. This world, despite everything we do to make it otherwise, is beautiful.
Broken and healing, fractured and yet somehow whole, I am beautiful.
We are beautiful together.
You are beautiful, too.
Do you know it?