Saturday, April 30, 2011

Beauty Is Truly in the Eye of the Beholder

A few years ago I stood on a small hillside overlooking a field below. To the casual observer, there wasn’t anything special about this place. To me, it is a site of historical significance, a place of peace and solace where unexpected healing can transpire.

I had been there once before, ten years earlier. At that time, our family had traveled with close friends. As we exited our cars, most of us experienced a sense of profound reverence. Even our children were whispering as we walked around. My oldest son later told me it was like being in the temple. I tend to concur with that opinion. 

While there, two close friends and I wandered into the trees on the small hillside. It was a pain-filled day for one of us—it marked the birthday of a beloved daughter who had passed away a few months before. As our friend quietly grieved for her daughter, a beautiful young woman who would have been fifteen, we walked in silence, yearning for comfort.

We had brought along a small vase containing flowers that were originally meant for an ancestor’s grave. Two of us share a common lineage and we had planned to leave that vase of silk flowers on a grandmother’s grave in Nauvoo. To our sad shock, we learned that her grave was among those lost when mobbers ruined the old cemetery. And so we brought that vase of flowers with us as we wandered into the heart of Adam-Ondi-Ahman.

It didn’t take us long to find a beautiful place to leave the vase—a tribute to our friend’s daughter. As we stood together, gazing down at the flowers, a peaceful love eased our heavy hearts. Somehow we knew life would go on, despite the pain of that time. It was the first ray of hope to brighten that dismal day.

When we eventually walked out to where our families were waiting, the three of us passed by a young couple. They were glaring around as if puzzled. Both were shabbily dressed, and the young man held a can of beer in his hand. “What’s so special about this place?” he growled as we walked past. It was like a slap in the face after the spiritual boost we had experienced in that same location.

The three of us later talked about that day and we decided that so much of what we encounter in life depends on our mindset. If we are prepared to embrace truth and beauty, we will find it. If our expectations are lower, we will find that, too.

Ten years later as I stood on that same hillside, seeking solace for a silent grief I carried, I felt very much alone. I was the only one who wanted to be there that day. Everyone else thought stopping in this out of the way location was a waste of time. While my traveling companions stood around, discussing the plainness of the area, I slipped off alone.

Once again prayers were answered and the peace I had been seeking was granted. That spiritual experience would carry me through several darkened days that were ahead. I will be forever grateful for the vision of hope that slipped into my heart to sustain me when the need was great.

It was a witness to me of the importance of faith . . . and attitude. Those two items truly make a difference in how we see the world. We could be standing in the most beautiful spot in existence, but if our minds and hearts aren’t open, we will miss what is there. Do we see the beauty, or do we focus on the flaws? I suspect those questions are of eternal significance, when all is said and done.


Doran & Jody said...

Nice post!

Cheri J. Crane said...

Thank, Jody. =)Thanks for stopping by.

My Companion Voice said...

What a teacher you are! From Jean

Cheri J. Crane said...

That should have read: Thank you, Jody. My bad. ;)

And Jean, thank you for the kind compliment. =)