Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Wednesday Wish (147); Beauty . . . Anywhere

photo by via google images

If you go up the hill and around the bend, then slow down to make a turn to the left at the baseball field, you will have found the road. It’s a kind road. It starts out gently with a church on the right and a big parking lot around that church to hold all of the faithful’s cars. And when you drive a little further, you begin to notice that the houses seem kind, too. They don’t brag. They don’t scream out to be heard. And they don’t want for attention. They just feel kind.

Except one.

The outside is nothing very memorable. Not the siding nor the windows, nor even the shape of the house speaks of anything much to be heard. But there is one thing that does. One thing that yells out at me every time I drive by.

But that’s not really the story. The story is far more important than a piece of fabric hanging from a pole. Yes, you must know me far better than that by now. This story is about a person. A person just like you and me.

His name is Benjamin and he lives next door to the not-so-memorable-house with the memorable flag that yells out at me every time I drive by, next door in the kind-feeling house on the kind-feeling road not far from my own.

So one day as I was driving home, I saw that Confederate flag flying, and next door I saw a man who I would later learn was named Benjamin, standing in his front yard. I stopped the car.

            “Hello there,” I said, with nothing but connection and open-heartedness lurking in my eaves. “How do you do it?” my eyes gazing over to the flag proudly flying in his neighbor’s yard.
            “Oh, you mean the flag?”
            I nodded. “I know it’s supposed to be about pride and that it probably isn’t directed at you, but I also know that for many, if not most of us, it’s a symbol of oppression and hate, and you, being African American, how do you handle that? Is it hard for you? How do you look outside every day, probably multiple times a day, and then get on with having a happy day?”
            Benjamin nodded and shared one of those knowing smiles. (I forgot to say, we had already exchanged names and earlier smiles) Then he said with sparkling eyes, “You know, it actually reminds me of Evel Knievel. He had a similar pattern on his clothes and on his bike so every time I look outside and see that flag,” he turned to look at it as he spoke, “I just smile.” And I think I even heard him share a little chuckle.

What else could I do right then myself other than smile, too? 
How could I be anything less than who Benjamin was? 
He got it right, said my own spontaneous chuckle.
Benjamin got it ALL, right.

*          *          *

What if the world was made up of only Benjamins—of people who looked insensitive actions and things in the face and saw only beauty? How different would things be? Might we live in a different world altogether? What if we tried it out ---you and me?

What if the next time someone honks at you, you agree to assume they are trying to tell you something beautiful . . . maybe to look up at a pretty bird or a lucky rainbow, or maybe they think you are beautiful and need you to know.

What if you agreed to find some bit of beauty in every insensitive or mean or ugly thing you came across? Would your world change? Would you let it if it tried to? Could you allow yourself to let go of the hardened parts in favor of the gentle and soft and kind? What if I told you that the simple act of seeing beauty, of finding it when it seems to most eyes simply nonexistent, takes courage? Would you dare to find that courage within yourself?

What if I promised you such daring could change your world?

It can.
It changes mine every single day.

Besides, if Benjamin can find beauty in the Confederate flag flying in his neighbor’s yard, then I know you and I can dare to find it . . . anywhere. 

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