I think wise Beauty engenders I-Thou relationships; and I think I-Thou relationships reveal wise Beauty. The space ( – ) between the I and the Thou is a space where Beauty can flourish. I think wisdom dwells in that space, and that space is a space in which we make art, we make love. It is a space in which we can be in Beauty. After Rumi, we can say “Let the beauty we love be what we do…”
So being in Beauty can be a way of life. The Navajo people have a chant simply called The Beauty Way. In Navajo theology the present world, filled with greed and trouble, will give way in The Day of Unity to a world in which, ” . . . you will walk in beauty; the beauty will walk before you; the beauty will walk behind you; you will be surrounded by beauty. Those who speak with beautiful speech will lead the world to beauty . . .”
So this way of being has to do with being interconnected, and To Walk in Beauty means not only walking
physically, it means being in harmony with all things and all people – all objects, all the animals, all the feelings, the plants, the weather and all the events in your life.
It means being at peace, serene in the knowledge that all around you is well and that you are well with everything in your life. You accept and are accepted, there is nothing that pulls you in one direction or the other, the polarities are neutralized, you are one with everything.
The Beauty Way has to do with being in an I-Thou relationship with all animals, feelings, weather, rocks: with all that you encounter and do. The spiritual and the material participate together in the way of beauty. In the beauty way you are in harmony – even with things that seem troublesome.
Everything you see and do can be like making and encountering art. Painting a tempera and cleaning away maggots are very different activities, but both can be filled with divine love and beauty. Like the God so loved by John of Damascus your words and work can infuse the material world with grace and truth and love. This brings joy.
It’s time to unleash this beauty and joy.
MAY 2019 Susanne Sklar MONK
Editor’s note: I found myself reading and editing this just as Notre Dame was burning itself into the memory of Europe, if not the world. I used to go to the Lady Chapel for mass every evening when I lived in Paris and I found myself – take a breath – shaken because here was Beauty to some degree saving the world. For a few days the loss of such Beauty aligned our human being, and realigned our priorities, alerted us to Love, history, faith. Can Beauty save the world? I think for a few days in April – it did.