A few days ago, I came upon this vase of once lovely peony blossoms. Just as my hand was about to snatch up the dried out petals and throw them in the compost, my eye stopped me. Instead of seeing these dead flowers as a housekeeping failure and a mess to be eradicated as soon as possible, I saw a flash of beauty and grace in their brokenness.
And that reminded me, all over again, that true art is not just about capturing the pretty things in life. The best artists connect us to what is real, and realness almost always carries a sliver of pain or at least imperfection. It is exactly this measure of raw reality that creates the most meaningful sense of beauty, and touches our hearts most deeply.
As these thoughts were spinning through my brain, I found myself rolling through my Facebook feed, and happened upon this photograph.
The person on the left is Natalie, a young friend of mine. She is holding a young friend of her own, named Cedar, as he experiences the ocean's waves for the first time in his life.
I don't know anything about Cedar except this:
1. Natalie is currently in India, caring for special needs children for the second summer in a row.
2. Most little boys I know love to romp and stomp through the ocean waves on their own power, and would not normally consent to be held.
So I don't mean to read any biases or subtle superiorities onto this scene, but I see a measure of brokenness in Cedar's quiet legs. I also see the tender strength in Natalie's arms as she cradles him, I can feel the ache in her back from holding him low to the water, I adore the absolutely precious smile on Cedar's face. All of this touches my heart with exactly the same powerful energy as my wilted peonies, only many, many times stronger.
Thank you, Natalie, for sharing this truly beautiful moment.