The Beauty and the Beast (It is I)

During these several weeks of heat and humidity, and sometimes rain, I’ve done a lot of reading.  When it’s too hot to go outside, or even move around inside, a good book is always a welcome companion.  In my journal I’ve recorded 13 book titles, most of which were read in July.

The one I’m savoring the most right now is Beauty: The Invisible Embrace, by John O’Donohue, a collection of short essays, or meditations on different aspects of beauty.  As I began the new year I set my focus on experiencing beauty, having a beautiful life (one in which I’m conscious of beauty), and having around me beautiful things – the environment outside as well as inside – wherever I am.

While I don’t want to infringe on any copyrights here, I would like to share a part of one of the entries from this book that spoke to me recently, on “The Discerning Voice”.

Somewhere in every heart there is a discerning voice.  This voice distrusts the status quo.  It sounds out the falsity in things and encourages dissent from the images things tend to assume.  It underlines the secret crevices where the surface has become strained.  It advises distance and opens up a new perspective through which the concealed meaning of a situation might emerge.  The inner voice makes any complicity uneasy.  Its intention is to keep the heart clean and clear...(S)o much depends on that small voice.  The truth of its whisper marks the line between honour and egoism, kindness and chaos…(T)hat small voice whispers from somewhere beyond and encourages the heart to hold out for dignity, respect, beauty and love…In haunted places this voice carries the light of beauty like a magical lantern to transform desolation, to remind us that regardless of what may be wrenched from us, there is a dignity and hope that we do not have to lose.

The author goes on to say that this voice can also have a darker side, one that is criticizing, offering judgments of unworthiness, and ‘choreographing’ a life that is blind to beauty of all kinds, especially of oneself.   I have heard both sides of this particular voice, and although the darker one still tries to offer its opinion, it is now on permanent holiday, although it sends the occasional postcard to remind me it’s still around.

I have so enjoyed seeing the sky from where I’m parked.  Yesterday evening, as sundown approached, the sky took on an orange glow – I noticed it from inside as I saw the reflection on the buildings.  I went outside to see what the sunset was looking like…nothing special.  But when I turned around, a beautiful rainbow – full arc – across the sky.  The mind wants to capture it all in a photo – it’s nearly impossible.  So I did the best I could…


Note:  John O’Donohue is also the author of the best-selling book Anam Cara.  He passed away in 2008.  His website is

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