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The Search for Beauty by Rev. Dr. Marjorie Matty

“The Search for Beauty” by Rev. Dr. Marjorie Matty

There is a saying that was coined in 1613 by Sir Thomas Overbury, “All the carnal beauty of my wife, Is but skin deep.” I am not sure as to what Sir Thomas was eluding to with regard to his wife or how she may have responded, but what I do know is something that I shared repeatedly with my god daughter, Emilie “the most important long lasting beauty is not what we see when we look in the mirror, it is what we hold within us that defines our true beauty.”

As we look into the faces of humankind, beyond the peculiarity of our physical characteristics and delve into our humanness, we see so many different layers of identity. It is difficult to go deeper than clothes and skin to uncover the true beauty that resides within. In Charlottesville, we saw hate, anger, frustration and fear all because of how people looked, dressed, and the signs and torches that they held. Beneath the color of one’s skin or their gender or political views resides so much more. We all herald from the same basic framework, a skeleton, and then layer upon layer sinew, muscle and organ are built and refined. The body alone is an inanimate physical “thing”, a vessel of sorts, until a cultivated mind and inspiration of spirit is added. Unfortunately, in the conflicts that we witnessed this month there was no time or way to go deeper to discuss difference and there was probably little interest to know one another. It is easier to ostracize, persecute and hurt those whom we do not know or see as being a member of our human family, but the one thing that studying DNA ancestry over the last couple of years has shown is that ultimately we are all connected and hardly different at all.

Beauty at first glance is not the real beauty that we ultimately need to acknowledge, true beauty resides far beneath the surface of our being. It resides in the conviction of character cultivated in the essence of one’s soul. Even though I was not in Charlottesville I can imagine the lack of beauty in intolerance and the rhetoric of hate that was being spewed but I can also imagine that there were moments of beautiful grace.

It is difficult to see and experience the reality of our world right now, the greed that inhabits the recesses of our culture, the ugliness that taints the natural beauty that could define our lives, our priorities and the trajectory of our world. The Buddha once shared, “All wrong-doing arises because of mind. If mind is transformed can wrong-doing remain?” Beauty and specifically inner beauty is the worship theme at First Parish for September–an important topic during these challenging, divisive and unpleasant/ugly times in our human history. We cannot force others, especially those who feel disenfranchised or afraid, to remain peaceful, “We cannot obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” (Dalai Lama) So let us begin this year with courage, love and an openness to see and experience the beauty that lies deep within ourselves and one another.

Blessings and love,

Rev. Marjorie