Monday, June 23, 2008

Looking for Beauty

Many people like me feel slightly passed over in a world that seems to place a high value on beauty. But a short poem by Anthony Ewell reminds us that physical attractiveness can be over-rated. He writes:
"As a beauty I am not a great star,
There are others more handsome by far.
But my face, I don't mind it,
For I am behind it,
It's the people in front who get the jar!"
Physically, maybe I'm not the stuff dreams are made of. And maybe, as the poem suggests, it doesn't matter. Because I believe there is another kind of beauty in all of us that can be experienced by anybody who digs a little deeper.

Several times I have visited a natural wonder that is one of the largest and most spectacular of its kind in the world. Carlsbad Caverns is an immense series of limestone caves extending under much of southern New Mexico (USA). Native Americans took refuge in the gaping hole that is the main entrance, but they did not venture far. A hundred years ago settlers in the area were attracted to the opening by the awesome sight of hundreds of thousands of bats swarming from the hole every summer evening. Though a bat guano mining operation was set up, nobody explored much beyond the bat's dwelling places.

Eventually, a cowboy name Jim White explored deeper. He returned with fantastic stories of gigantic subterranean chambers, spectacular cave formations and unbelievably stupendous sights. Even in 1915, after black and white photographs were taken of the caverns, many did not believe. The government sent skeptic Robert Holley to investigate in 1923. He wrote in his final report, "I am wholly conscious of the feebleness of my efforts to convey in words the deep conflicting emotions, the feeling of fear and awe, and the desire for an inspired understanding of the Divine Creator's work which presents to the human eye such a complex aggregate of natural wonders."

A whole new world - majestic, wondrous and awe-inspiring - lay hidden from view. Its unimagined beauty can only be experienced by exploring beneath the surface.

And so it is with people. I have found in people a unique inner beauty that can be discovered by exploring beneath the surface. They may not believe it is there themselves, but that does not mean it doesn't exist.

Those outward looks we're usually so self-conscious about don't matter much. Who people really are may be hidden beneath the outer landscape like a magnificent subterranean palace. And when you care to scratch the surface a bit, you can discover what others have missed.

And you will be rewarded beyond measure.

-- Steve Goodier

Image: de Madariaga

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