11 November 2015

finding beauty

lately, my heart and mind have felt heavy.

i have been reflecting on so many refugees without homes, on the pain of many in my church precipitated by a recent policy change, on the physical, emotional and spiritual battles that some of my loved ones are fighting, on the many shades of ache being carried around in so many different hearts.

there is so much beauty and joy and love in this world, and i truly believe that the summation of good far outweighs the bad. but the hardship – in its many different forms and measures – of being alive as a human on this earth is very real, and so searing. although my personal struggles are also real and searing in their own right, i have been spared of so much of the grief that many experience. while realizing this makes me feel tremendously grateful, it also causes me to feel abashed.

with all the abundant ways that i am fortunate and privileged, how do i personally contribute to alleviating the deep and complex and exquisite pain of humanity? what is the appropriate balance between shamelessly appreciating my blessings and letting them compel me to help others? how do i graciously and authentically deal with the fact that horrific things are happening in the world while i am living so relatively comfortably?  how can i, one person with limited sphere of influence, make the world better?

beautyi don’t have answers to these tough questions, but i am striving to find them day by day. and in the meantime, i’ve realized that it’s not only okay, but really good, to find beauty around me while recognizing the pain. when i find beauty around me, it makes me happy, and i am able to send out happiness into the world. that’s so incredibly trite when set next to the heavy hardship of humanity, but it’s something i can do, every day, and i really do believe it makes a tiny difference, and that it is worthwhile.

so, as i let my mind and heart sag with the acknowledgement of profound human hardship, and try to find ways to legitimately help, i simultaneously find beauty in as many corners as i can. i find it, i appreciate it, i try to absorb it and share it. i let it make me happy and then i endeavor to shine that simple happiness and show simple kindness. and while it is just an infinitesimal drop in a huge, vast ocean of hurt, i hope for ripples and strive to let my drops add up.

and those are my thoughts for this november wednesday :)

some random beauty i have found lately:
the buzz and energy of crowded city streets, thousands of human stories moving around each other // carefully crafted building facades backgrounded by rich shades of gray in the london sky // a look of truest love in the eyes of my husband // the big, bright smile of a stranger when offered a thank you // the bells of st. martin’s in the field pealing in our windows on sunday mornings // forming a connection with people from all over the world that i meet with at work // the absolute perfection of a laduree macaron //

life is devastatingly beautiful.

18 comments :

  1. Life is brutiful, as Glennon Doyle Melton says. I love seeing all your photos of London, especially in the fall because that's when I studied abroad there. I love Remembrance Day and all the poppies everywhere!

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  2. Charity, you as one person cannot do that much in reality, to alleviate the world's pains. You can bring light and hope and assistance to individuals. But one person HAS already done all that can be done to balance the inequalities that exist. Jesus Christ is that One. I am so thankful for that. He has made all things equal.

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    1. i agree full heartedly. i take great solace in my faith that because of christ, all will be made right. but, i also believe that we are his hands on the earth today. we need to work with him to heal and alliviate and make right. while we can't do much really, i believe he wants us to do what we can...not just wait for him to make it right in the end.

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    2. But, Charity. Would Christ prevent the children of "sinners" from being baptized? Would he turn away people who wanted to become his followers?

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    3. Anonymous - He isn't turning away any "sinners" or non sinners. All our welcome in the fold of God. But they do have to make certain sacrifices and promises to be allowed in His presence. God is a God of order and cleanliness. And the scriptures say, a child is cleaner and more pure than anyone else and admitted directly into the presence of God. Baptism is a way for all the rest of us to be allowed in His presence, but even if a person is baptized, they still have to be clean and righteous. Baptism is NOT the only way we come closer to Christ. The heart is so much more a part of that process. And the church will readily accept any who's heart is in the right place and has the right desires. You are judging the entire church as a whole, and not realizing that the church judges individually and takes each person's heart and situation individually. One is not the same as the other. Church leaders, parents, and children will work together to resolve issues as they arise - that's how its always been and always will be. Its a beautiful gospel!!

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  3. Beautifully put, Charity. Thank you so much for your heartfelt response.

    The same issue was brought up on Shawni's blog and as usual, she didn't respond. It didn't affect her or her family so she didn't acknowledge it.

    So glad you took the time to do so.

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  4. This is why I love to read your blog. You do look for the good around you and find happiness that does exist in a troubling world. Like you, I have also had a heavy heart, as I have had to watch some of the struggles my family members are going through right now (health, emotional, financial, spiritual...)
    Thank you for sharing the happiness you absorb-- it does make a difference and that happiness ripples out to places, I'm sure you will never even know. Stay on the sunny side. :)

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  5. This is a hard time for many of us. It's Veteran's Day here in the US and I can't help but think how much better off we are - and the entire world - than we were in 1918. There have been darker days, and there will be brighter days.

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  6. Don't be discouraged. Life will happen to you without your trying to find something hard to do, which is impossible anyway. You can't chose your own cross. May I recommend if you do try to "help" you will listen first and not insist on your own way. We tend to think we know what those we are going to give time, money and attention to really need, since we are not requiring a need so obviously our way is the "best" way. It can end up hurting those we are trying to be kind to. For instance many people who fled Syria probably feel sorry for you. You are not Muslim. You do not live in the same place as your parents and your siblings. Imagine if they tried to help you, what would that look like? Sometimes it's great if we simply don't add to another's burden. Not all crosses come from bad decisions. Not all problems are fixable, just endurable. Worry won't add to your life. Is another's burden lighter cause you are worried about the situation they are in? Genuinely reacting would be to have your kids wait for baptism until 18 as a classmate has to wait. But you won't. You will feel slightly sad for a moment and move on if it's not required your kid wait. My guess in a few days you will post about a great org you just became involved in since your job is flexible and your husband is working a lot at his new job. You are certainly the least lazy person on the planet. I mean that as a compliment. You have a very big heart. I do wonder why you think you or anyone should be happy all the time? Catholics expect suffering. It's guaranteed. Maybe it's easier to handle? There is no "prosperity gospel" in this life, the next maybe? When suffering comes we don't worry about our relationship with God. It's not a sign of displeasure. Catholics are restricted from some things but not banned from coming together to worship and we are not excluded from the happy times in another's life. We can still volunteer at our parish and be a member even if we are known to do something bad. A formal excommunicate is still required to attend mass, just can get communion but no one would realize it cause there are many reasons not to walk up for it. It would not be obvious at a family wedding mass that they didn't leave the pew. And we would never wonder if was excommunication or just not going to confession and committing a grave sin and no one would wonder about the trasngression. The levels of participation in the LDS church and lack of privacy is something hard to understand for a nomember. I mean everyone can see you are not in the temple for the wedding of the niece. Everyone can see you haven't had a calling for a year. Everyone can see your child didn't decide to be baptized yet and are 10. Everyone is wondering why your baby hadn't been blessed and it's cause dad lost the ability due to a porn addiction and it will be months at least before he is worthy again. It's just so obvious. Do people keep things hidden? How does that help?

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    1. KMS I don't understand why you criticize Charity for worrying about others and wanting to find joy in life. Our gospel teaches us to have Charity- funny how this just happens to be Charity's name. Do you know the meaning behind that word??? It has beautiful depth and meaning. And i have a feeling that Charity is trying to have just that. Its a beautiful way to live, you should try it. And yes, our Church does notice if the One is not there. We've been taught to notice. We take it very seriously if one of our family members is missing at the temple, because we love each other so much and care how the One is doing. We have rolls in our church and keep track of who is coming to church each week. If someone hasn't been to church in a while we have home teachers and visiting teachers who stop in to visit them and check on them to make sure they are okay and if they have physical needs met. Just this week my husband was very sick and two women who were concerned for us brought our family a meal. I liked knowing that they knew what was going on with our family and cared enough to help. It brought me to tears, and my five children felt so much gratitude in their hearts and felt loved by our neighbors. That is a very good thing.

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  7. Hi Charity! I have been enjoying your blog for a number of years. I find your passion refreshing, your faith inspiring and your integrity unparalleled. I love that you keep looking for beauty even when you have to squint to see it in dark times. I find it helpful to not only to seek out and focus on good, but also to actively work to bring it into the world. I am inspired by Theresa of Avila's words, "Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours...with which he is to bless men now." Perhaps coupled with seeing good, we all might try to do good as well, perhaps getting together with others at our children's schools, or with a congregation, or with others in our neighborhood to sponsor a refugee family, for example, or to volunteer at a local charity helping new immigrants to get settled in our cities, or look to the lonely among us - the elderly especially - and invite them to our home for dinner, or for a walk and tea. Perhaps then we might find ourselves a part of the goodness that touches the lives of others.

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    1. yes! agree so so much. i wanted to focus this post on finding beauty, but we also should generate it! and we can do that in small and simple ways, like the ones you've suggested. we can't save all the refugees, but we can help individuals in beautiful simple ways.

      thank you for your fantastic comment.

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  8. love you so much char. and love your lens on life. inspiring.

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  9. love you so much char. and love your lens on life. inspiring.

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  10. So glad to see inside your good and gracious soul! It makes it easier to talk when we finally get together because we know what you're thinking. Love this post!

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  11. Hey Charity, I have been reading your blog for a long time now. I think this is my first comment here. I love that you are really settling in London and enjoy it with so much wonder. I love it also.

    Have you thought about the Trussell Trust? They are the food bank for the people who fall through the cracks here. If you don't have time to volunteer, a few cans of food, and other items off of their needed list could make the world of difference to a person who you walk past in London. Maybe your local supermarket has a box or shopping trolley where you can leave some items. Hope you don't think I am being rude. Its just the post made it feel like you felt you cant help.

    Have you managed to get into the British Museum yet? Please go. I am unsure if people who read your blog know that most of our museums in London are free. you may have to pay to see specialist exhibits that are on loan. But there are so many things to see where you don't.

    Have you also heard about the Key Ceremony at the Tower of London or that there is a river/stream that runs through an antiques shop?

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  12. I love you Char Bear. And I miss you like crazy.

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