For a few weeks now, my hydrangeas have been stunning me by simply doing what they do — blooming. A recent sunset-kissed sky stole my breath away. A wedding invitation perches on my kitchen table, promising a promise. My pup snuggles at my feet, and my husband of nearly thirty years celebrates a birthday today. (He married me when he was 25 — so you do the math.) Evidences of beauty, right under my nose, right before my eyes.
With my mind’s ears I can still hear my mom singing when a room grows silent and missing her grows bigger than my heart can hold. Most often the mixed strains of “The Lord’s Prayer,” “How Great Thou Art,” or “Sentimental Journey” top my remembered ‘greatest hits’ performances, but when December comes ’round, it’s “O Holy Night” that I hear most clearly. I trust she’s singing with the angels these days, in a voice too sweet for the ears of the mere mortals we still are. Beauty past, present, and still to come. Glorious.
When I look in the mirror (surely I’m not alone here), I see flaws of all sorts. Some have been there for awhile now but some are more recent arrivals; still, with age comes a rather delightful perk: my husband of almost thirty years loves me more than he loves my looks, which were always passable at best. Maybe his aging eyes are doing him a favor, or maybe grace covers over a multitude of wrinkles as well as sins.
Still I wonder, where is beauty that lasts?
When I look carefully, I cannot ignore the first signs of hydrangea blooms fading. The sun is always setting with stunning speed; the sky fades to black too soon. Promises made and kept in marriage– my parents for over fifty-six years, my husband and I heading toward thirty, and young ones just ready to say ‘I do’ — still are temporal, and the parting, as Shakespeare so poignantly revealed, brings such ‘sweet sorrow’ that we wonder if we can survive it.
The beauty in the landscapes, the seascapes, in the starry heavens and in the loved ones with starring roles in the ‘days of our lives’ – all of it is fleeting, really. The hydrangeas, the setting sun and even my husband’s birthday remind me of that.
Franz Kafka is credited with this gem on the subject: “Youth is happy because it has the capacity to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.”
Whatever the years and the mirror say, I see beauty everywhere. Isn’t grace amazing?