Small Glimpses of Beauty

23 Jul

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Several years ago BBC broadcaster Michael Ford interviewed the remarkable Irish poet, John O’Donohue, whose name is known worldwide for his book Anam Cara.  Ford collected his thoughts about that special encounter in his own book, Spiritual Masters For All Seasons, and in that little volume he remembers O’Donohue’s thoughts about beauty.

“Beauty,” O’Donohue told him, “has become confused with glamour.  Glamour was a multibillion dollar industry that thrived on dislocating or unhousing people from their own bodies and transferring all the longing toward the perfection of image.  Glamour was insatiable because it lacked interiority.  Beauty was a more sophisticated and substantial presence with an eternal heart — a threshold place where the ideal and the real touched each other.  People on the bleakest frontiers of desolation, deprivation, and poverty were often sustained by small glimpses of beauty.”

Sometimes “small glimpses of beauty” is enough.  

I find glamour to be uninterestingly shallow, but the “birds of the air and the lilies of the field”, the downpour of rain in the desert, brilliant oranges and purples painted on the mountains just before the sun disappears, the clarity of stars in a dark sky…small glimpses of beauty.  That’s enough.

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