Now, some have said I'm a bit of a hippie in spirit. Maybe. I think I grew up loving National Geographic and Discovery Channel, and I have a tendency to appreciate nature's beauty.
This, however, began to be contrasted in my head as I looked around me at those who were present at Mass. Why is it that I can find myself so captivated by something as simple as a tree, and yet I do not find my heart struck by the beauty of people?
So then I began to try to look around me with a more "general" or "objective" lens. I considered how God's design was so marvelous - how each face was so unique, so different, how there were so many colors of hair, colors of eyes, shapes of noses, jawlines, etc... Certainly I am more or less disposed to find any individual face beautiful because of my subjective knowledge of the person, and my own affinity for certain features. Yet, not to discredit objective and subjective beauty, the overarching experience of recognizing that the minute variances of snowflakes are fascinating and stirring in the soul should also lead me to acknowledging that the even more intricate details of the human person are stunning.
Clearly we all live in a world and culture that has its own definition of what is a beautiful person, as have many ages before us. However, just as our ancestors hopefully reminded themselves from time to time, we must keep in mind that fashion or no fashion, the human person has an innate beauty that comes simply in his or her personhood. It may be reasonable that we have to try a little harder to see the beauty in one person over another, but that does not discredit the beauty that we should conceive of in everyone we meet, even in some small extent.
However, this isn't meant to oversimplify. Certainly, it is easier to see the glory in the snowflakes and the trees in that they are innocent. We know that people carry moral responsibility, and our sin and actions and attitudes can greatly affect how we are perceived.
I feel that this is a two-fold challenge.
First, to remember who it is that has given life to each person that we encounter. It is God, a loving Father who calls us into being. The book of Wisdom says,
"But you have mercy on all, because you can do all things;
and you overlook sins for the sake of repentance.
For you love all things that are
and loathe nothing that you have made;
for you would not fashion what you hate.
How could a thing remain, unless you willed it;
or be preserved, had it not been called forth by you?
But you spare all things, because they are yours,
O Ruler and Lover of souls."
Second, to recall that we are all sinners, and all carry the weight of sin in our lives. If we are to understand the love of God, we are called to seek to see with his vision. We have an invitation to see first with mercy, and then with justice, as our human justice always falls short of God's infinite mercy.
We ought to strive each day to awaken our hearts and souls, to become more sensitive to the glory of God around us! This world can be full of business and busyness, buildings and cars and errands and deadlines, and leave us with little time to reflect. We need to allow ourselves to see, so that we might find how natural it is to praise God for all he has done. Further, it is so much easier to place our trust in the Lord when we consider how truly powerful he is, and are convicted of his great love for us.
Let us ask the Holy Spirit to be with us always, and to lead us into all Truth.