“Nothing is more beautiful than the uniqueness that God has created.
You don’t have to create beauty - you’ve already got the beauty.
You don’t have to create the freedom - you’ve got it.
You don’t have to create the image of God in you - you have it.
You don’t have to win over God’s love - you have more than you know what to do with.”
A Prayer by Thomas Keating
What if that was really true? Could it actually be true? What if you, me, each one of us, regardless of which side of the aisle or whatever dividing line we put in place, is unique and loved in that uniqueness. What would change, with that realization, as you start this new year?
Imagine trusting your uniqueness, beauty, freedom, the image of God in you, and your very own belovedness in God’s eyes. We know, in theory, the trueness of Keating’s prayer but do we know it deep within us in a way that makes a difference in the way we live life. Does this understanding impact not only the way we live our own life but the way we live life with others?
As an example, imagine a flower blooming on a warm spring day, opening up to the brightness of the sun warming its overly full bloom. The sun casts light on the opening flower creating shadows, which highlight the depth of color and vibrancy of the varied shades. The bloom draws you for the pure loveliness of it. The petals are soft to the touch, and the fragrance is sweet and pleasant to your senses. It is a thing of astounding beauty.
Now imagine as you step back away from this flower, the field of flowers that surround it. Each flower is unique in its own beauty. Together the beauty is amazingly fuller than the individual bloom can contain. The swath of color or the varied shades of a field of flowers is enough to take one’s breath away.
This field of flowers, full of individual blooms, is a good analogy for living in community. Each of us is created uniquely, beautiful, and beloved in our own existence. Yet, we are also designed for community that includes, celebrates even, the unique diversity of all gathered.
Such a beautiful experience that requires each one to see their own gift of beauty without comparing themselves to one another. The communal gift of receiving and celebrating each other’s uniqueness and beauty reflects a space of abundance. This is different than the fear of scarcity. We don’t have to try to be something we already are.
The invitation is to know who we are and to live in that awareness while celebrating the same journey in others. Knowing and trusting that each one brings a beautiful and unique aspect of life allows the freedom of discovery as we walk and celebrate that truth in ourselves and in others.
How do we walk this out and the freedom it brings in our lives? How do we live life as a beautiful flower in what may seem like a field of thorns?
This question actually shows the dualism that comes from comparing ourselves to others. What if the field of thorns is really a distinctly unique and beautiful array of blooms. When we see another as the enemy or the problem, it usually shows us something about ourselves. If we take time to notice our tendency to compare ourselves to others without judging that tendency, we can begin to notice the lie, fear, or doubt we are believing. As we notice, God can meet us, heal the brokenness in our understanding, and take us deeper in relationship with God, ourselves, and others.
So, what if we are a beautiful and unique creation, and so are the people we are having difficulty with? When we notice the flower’s beauty we imagined at the beginning of this post, we can see the sweet grace of transformation. It wasn’t always a beautiful bloom but grew from a seed or bulb. It went through a process.
For us, the depth of beauty is created amid pain and suffering, which forms compassion in and through the journey. As I have sensed God give this image of a flower’s beauty, God has shown me it is God’s beauty, God’s strength, for God’s glory, and my delight to join in the process, even amid the pain.
As God loves, heals, and draws us deeper, God creates that beauty, glorious beauty, in each of our lives. We have a choice, a chance to continue or to stop, to abandon ourselves or to close off, to love and be loved. This transformation is a real miracle of healing, abandonment, love, and creative beauty. It is by God’s design, and God is the one who orchestrates it, while we get to delight not only in the process in us but in those around us.
As people are drawn to the flower for its beauty, people are drawn to God by seeing God’s beauty, God’s glory, and God’s love in us. Through us, God heals and makes beautiful the world, those who are hurting, are broken, are seeking. They will be loved, healed, and put back to the beauty God created them to be.
But first, the journey is ours to embrace - can we rest in the truth of Keating’s poem at the beginning of this post. It is only in our resting in the knowledge of the reality of our own uniqueness, beauty, and belovedness that we can walk alongside others in theirs. May the journey this year, for you and for me, be one of being abundantly and boldly loved and loving others out of that same love.
Hello, I'm Kathi Gatlin. Thanks for stopping by!