Beauty has been mostly external in my life. I’ve measured the external appearances of houses, people and scenery in terms beauty. My idea of beauty. What I like, what appeals to my eye and taste. We all know the quote “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. We can attest to the truth in that comment as we look at our newborn babies, most of them looking like a pink wrinkled piglet or old man. In our eyes, they are beautiful. No one can see the beauty in our children or spouses quite the way we can.
That began to change when, quite unexpectedly, found ourselves in ministry with men in recovery. Men gaunt and malnourished from their diets of crack cocaine, some with few teeth from meth or extended cocaine habit.
These days they are younger and even thinner from heroin addiction. There are a few old school alcoholics, but regardless of drug of choice alcohol plays a vicious part.
Beauty is not a word attached to these men when they walk through our doors and may never fit an external description. The beauty has to be unearthed and refined much like a diamond found deep within the earth.
Their beauty starts with willingness; willingness to surrender, to change, to give back.
For the past 7 years we’ve hosted a Fall Festival for our church counterpart. They load up the vans and minibuses and bring 50 or so kids to a warehouse we’ve decked out with Halloween decorations. They run a few games, take polaroids at our homemade photo booth, give out fresh made popcorn from our machine and take turns getting in the dunking booth.
When the belly is fed with eggs for breakfast, taco salad for lunch and baked chicken at supper, when there is purpose work in the day, a counselor to unload your burdens and a hot shower to wash off the old ways….when there are people praying for you, helping you, and loving you…beauty starts to bloom and it looks a lot like gratitude.
Gratitude gives back. To the new man not sure if he’ll stay and to the kids who have no idea what your life is about. They’ve come to get their face painted, dress up in a costume and play a few games. It’s an interesting dance we see unfolding of the most unlikely kind of beauty I ever expected to find.
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