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What Is Beauty?

 "What is beauty?  Why are some people more beautiful than others?  Is someone really more beautiful than someone else?  Or is beauty in the eye of the beholder?"

These were questions posed by my (very beautiful) teenage niece.   In a world where social media is the dominant means of communication and sharing of lives through photographs, I can honestly say I was not surprised to see her post these questions on Facebook.  So many people today post photographs that reveal their perceptions of what defines true beauty.  Many perceptions are based solely on outward physical appearance, and not on the inward beauty that a post such as hers reveals.  The mere fact that she is contemplating the definition of "beauty" is beautiful in itself.

Is beauty a model who reveals too much of his or her body for a price?  The audience is captured by seductive eyes, glorious hair, or a perfectly toned figure.  In youth, when in top physical condition, truly the human body is a work of art and has inspired many artists to photograph, paint or sculpt.  Is it beautiful to walk down the street and turn heads?  I say no.  True beauty is in the workings of the body, not in the appearance.  The true beauty is in the soul.

True beauty is in the one who reaches out a hand to help another.  One perfect example of beautiful that I can think of is Mother Teresa.  When one gazes upon her photograph, do they see an old woman?  Or do they see the countless lives she helped with her charity?  That, my friend is the definition of beautiful.

A quote from the diary of Mother Teresa, reveals the true beauty she had within:

Our Lord wants me to be a free nun covered with the poverty of the cross. Today I learned a good lesson. The poverty of the poor must be so hard for them. While looking for a home I walked and walked till my arms and legs ached. I thought how much they must ache in body and soul, looking for a home, food and health. Then the comfort of Loreto [her former order] came to tempt me. 'You have only to say the word and all that will be yours again,' the Tempter kept on saying ... Of free choice, my God, and out of love for you, I desire to remain and do whatever be your Holy will in my regard. I did not let a single tear come.  [Spink, Kathryn (1997). Mother Teresa: A Complete Authorized Biography. New York. Harper Collins, p.37]

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What about Jesus Christ?  He surrounded Himself with the "social outcasts" of His time and offered them peace, hope and love.  He healed the sick, worked many miracles, and fed thousands.  He taught love and giving of oneself for others.  There was no way to photograph Him centuries ago, but when reading the scriptures that tell the stories of His life, one cannot help but see the beauty . . . His beauty is timeless!  John Chapter 1 gives us a picture of the beauty of the Christ:

In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.   The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  John 1:4-5, NIV.

Outward beauty fades with time . . . but the truly beautiful ones are the ones who are beautiful on the inside.  Compassion, kindness, charity, love, forgiveness and grace . . . that is what defines beautiful.  When someone possesses these qualities, it is reflected on the outside, no matter their age or outward "appearance" . . . these qualities make them beautiful.  The real blessing comes from finding something beautiful in everyone we meet, loving them the way God would want you to love them.  The way to do that is to let your light within you shine!  That, my sweet and beautiful niece, is the secret to life . . . to look for the beauty in all of God's creations and to love them.

Behold the true beauty within!


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