HE who knows Love—becomes Love, and his eyes
Behold Love in the heart of everyone,
Even the loveless: as the light of the sun
Is one with all it touches. He is wise
With undivided wisdom, for he lies 
In Wisdom’s arms. His wanderings are done,
For he has found the Source whence all things run—
The guerdon of the quest, that satisfies.
He who knows Love becomes Love, and he knows
All beings are himself, twin-born of Love. 
Melted in Love’s own fire, his spirit flows
Into all earthly forms, below, above;
He is the breath and glamour of the rose,
He is the benediction of the dove.

By: Elsa Barker
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Get to know me and you learn that I have much to say. It’s not so much that I talk a lot as it is that I talk densely. Whatever I say just happens to be expansive. (Ok, so maybe I talk a lot too.) But lately I find myself growing quieter and quieter by the day, and it’s not because I have less to say. In fact, my thoughts become more and more complicated by the day, but the desire and need to vocalize them is dissipating. Instead of wanting to project outward for the world to hear me, I’d rather project upward toward the heavens. Simply put, my spirit has grown quieter. St. Peter speaks of quietness of spirit in his first epistle:

“Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.”

It is in reading over those two verses that I can pinpoint what I often viewed as a strength but now appears to be more of a flaw–my ever moving mouth, spouting big words and theories of this and that was and is a mere outward adornment. “Here! Look at me! Look at what I know and what I’ve learned! Look at my big brain!” is really what my rambling mouth says to the world. My version of spending hours upon hours on my hair and makeup.

Where is the humility in that?

I worried when I found myself growing quieter thinking that perhaps I was losing my sharpness, but now I see it for what it is–pure grace from heaven.

“Who can find a virtuous woman? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands. She is like the merchant ships; she brings her food from afar. She also rises while it is yet night, and provides food for her household and a portion for her maidservants. She considers a field and buys it; from her profits she plants a vineyard. She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms. She perceives that her merchandise is good, and her lamp does not go out by night. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hand holds the spindle. She extends her hand to the poor, yes; she reaches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household is clothed with scarlet. She makes tapestry for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants. Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness. She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.’ Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates” (Proverbs 31:10-31).

 

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A word of advice to all the men out there: if this virtuous woman is worth far more than a precious ruby, then she must be much rarer and far more difficult to find than a ruby as well. If you find a woman like this willing to give you her heart, then do not let her go. Only a fool would do such a thing.

Have you ever walked down the street, following your ordinary route, on an ordinary day only to find yourself absolutely awestruck by the extraordinary appearance of the person in front of you? Everything is the same, and then Beauty herself comes walking down the street and all you can do is stare. Such physical beauty is rare but it does exist, and we venerate and praise it more so than most other traits. The grand cosmic joke lies in the fact that those who are deemed beautiful are merely winners of the genetic jackpot. Yes, we live in world overflowing with beauty enhancement products and cosmetic surgery but all those things can only take an individual so far and the end result almost always looks artificial. True beauty created by nature becomes even more blindingly radiant against the backdrop of the artificial.

The conundrum of physical appearance has always perplexed me. Never has one thing been so important and simultaneously so irrelevant at the same time. My first encounter with the appearance monster took place around the time I was 11 or so. I was always a pudgy child but suddenly other people started to notice. They weren’t so pleased with my appearance and they were quite intent on letting me know their opinions. This was followed by angst filled early teen years where I cursed the way I looked in the mirror every single day. The fact that I’d lost 65 pounds and grew several inches didn’t make much of a difference. I only saw ugly. And ugly I was for a while.

It wasn’t until my late teens that I finally made peace with my looks. I was by no means beautiful in my own eyes, but I was fine. And then the most peculiar things began to happen. People, both men and women, would stop and stare at me as I walked down the street. (All I could think to myself was that I couldn’t be so unattractive as to induce rampant gaping.) Eventually, people began to vocalize what they were thinking when they would stop and stare. And one day, suddenly, I was being flooded by variations on the phrase “You’re so beautiful!” It became stranger when model scouts stopped me on the street.

But I… I was still only happy to wake up every day, look in the mirror, and think to myself, “I’m ok.” That may not sound like the world’s most positive thought, but to me it is the most neutrally, healthy way to view my external appearance—to be grateful for what I have been given and to just feel fine.

The positive feeling was unceremoniously and quite unexpectedly pulled from my hands for a bit within the past few months or so. We all have our vanities and my one vanity was my hair. I had long, dark, loose curls that fell down to the middle of my back. I loved my hair. In one fell swoop, I decided that I was going to go chop it all off and donate it. Within half an hour of stepping foot into the salon, I had a chin-length bob. I just didn’t look the same. That night, I took my curls and placed them in a padded envelope and wrote out the name and address of the charity on it and left it on my dresser. The next morning when I looked in the mirror, as I picked up the envelope in order to take it to the post office, I was shocked. I didn’t look the same. My prized physical attribute was gone.

The drastic change received mixed reviews. Lots of people liked it but those who hated it really hated it. I mourned my hair for a couple of weeks and then finally knocked myself out of it. I was being silly. Hair grows back. And I… well, I was still ok. And that’s all I ever hope to think of my external shell. If I begin to think too highly of it or conversely begin to demean it, then I have lost sight of the grand purpose of it all. When I am gone, no one will clearly remember the shape of my nose or the brown of my eyes, but they will remember the strength of my words, the quality of my character, and the depth of my love. (And those who only remember the size of my waist or the length of my legs have missed the point entirely.)