Tuesday, September 6, 2011

when it rains, sometimes it pours (about beauty)

This morning I woke up to rain. It presses against the glass, against tree branches, slides along the pavement and through the sand of the volleyball court outside my building. I hear it crash against the edges of the road as cars drive by, and there is a steadiness, even an insistence, about it this morning. When it rains, they say, it pours.

Yesterday the word beautiful poured into my day, across the floor at breakfast in Gloucester, followed me around shopping at the mall, crept up over my shoulder at coffee and then meandered down the tamed (but still a little bit wild) paths around Gull Pond. Everywhere I went, this question - "what do we do with 'beautiful'?" asked itself. And, young as I am, uncertain as I am - I want to run outside in the rain of this question and laugh, delightedly.

What do we do with beautiful? 

I ask this because I feel uncertain about it. Because I look in the mirror some days, and feel like there's nothing too special there. And for so long, I wore the makeup and the clothes and the headbands to hide that question - am I beautiful? - underneath all the things I thought might make me that way. And yesterday, as two beautiful friends sat across from me drinking cappuccino and walked next to me to the dock, they both wanted to know: how did you give up makeup?

I smiled. "Honestly?" I began, and they nod, looking at me from beneath shimmering eyelids and bright cheeks. "I gave it up because I was dependent on it. I didn't know my face without it. I didn't like my face without it." And I tell them about the days when I reached for my eyeshadow and when I longed to slide the black pencil under my eyelids, just for a hint of drama, just to get someone to pay a little bit more attention to me. I tell them how it made me wonder, drew me right in to ask the question of the One who made me: So, God, am I beautiful?

And His answer is a fierce and loud and forever Yes. A Yes to being beautiful even when I'm not sure of it. Even when the guys I hope will notice me don't. Even when I am full to the brim with a hundred reasons that I shouldn't think of myself that way. He says I am beautiful, and sets my heart straight again.

What do we do with beautiful?
(photo: hannah byrnes)

We live it. We wake up in the morning and stretch our bodies into the world. We marvel at the faces we meet, how eyes carry our selves, and the smile betrays the laughter, and the way they walk reveals how much joy they have. We marvel at how expressive we are, how our hands paint the air with words and ideas, how we move, how our lungs breathe and how our heart muscles beat.

And we laugh, so loudly and run through the rain that pours into our lives and hear Him say Yes, and hear His delight, and then find others, who ask the question, who worry about it, who wonder if they are beautiful - and we remind them.



  1. i love this, hilary. every last bit. and i love how you hold out the blessing to those around you. precious, you are.
    just wish i had been in gloucester having breakfast myself, this morning :-)

  2. thanks for reminding me about beauty, hilary and living it out everyday.


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