Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Brave enough to accompany the beautiful

J. Ruth Gendler's astute and loving observations of our human condition are packed tight into The Book of Qualities. She brings forth a world where Beauty, Blame, Sensuality, Complacency, Guilt, Power and many, many others are neighbors, relatives, friends and enemies. Each of the 74 qualities she describes has its own personality traits--some of which you may expect, many you may not, yet few you will dispute. She is a wise woman with a weird and essential vision of who and how we are.

Beauty is startling. She wears a gold shawl in the summer and sells seven kinds of honey at the flea market. She is young and old at once, my daughter and my grandmother. In school she excelled in mathematics and poetry. Beauty doesn't anger easily, but she was annoyed with the journalist who kept asking her about her favorites--as if she could have one favorite color or one favorite flower. She does not usually mind questions though, and she is especially fond of riddles. Beauty will dance with anyone who is brave enough to ask her.*

The play of "young and old at once," "mathematics and poetry" and irriation over chosing favorities sent a flash of recognition through me. Still, I wasn't convinced of Gendler's vision here until "Beauty will dance with anyone who is brave enough to ask her." This is true, and I know it from both sides: the stunned and the stunning.

So often, we feel we won't measure up to our visions of greatness, of beauty, of integrity. When we shy away from them, safe, small, lame and ashamed we leave the greatness unattended and lonely.

Consider this in the most literal sense: there are babes aplenty too hot to talk to and few among us who can get beyond that and engage them. Everyone needs love and attention. Even the very, very, very attractive. People're always asking how Regular Joes end up with the knockouts they do. It may be money, it may be power, but those attributes are hollow without confidence and courage at their source.

Consider too, that sometimes it isn't just that we are now too little and lame, but that we don't even believe we should build ourselves into the greatness we can imagine.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. **

Liberate yourself. Liberate the others. Talk to all the 10s you can. Get right up close to the Sun, Apollo. Your blaze of glory is waiting.

*J. Ruth GendlerThe Book of Qualities. Turquoise Mountain Publications, 1984 (pg. 27). Thanks Mark!
**Marianne Williamson. A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles. Harper Collins, 1992. From Chapter 7, Section 3 (Pg. 190-191).


Biby Cletus said...

Nice post, its a really cool blog that you have here, keep up the good work, will be back.

Warm Regards

Biby Cletus - Blog

mark j said...

im speechless