Our Easter 2012 paper is now online. Be sure to read it and let us know what you think.
Seeds of Beauty
Beauty is often hidden, particularly in the places abandoned by Empire. It’s covered by crumbling bricks and swollen bruises, stained jeans and tall weeds, leaking roofs and rotting wood. Here, beauty has been marred by concrete and violence, graffiti and neglect. When people visit our neighborhood, the lack of beauty is one reason they feel less welcome or safe. When I tell people where I call home, they often respond, “You live there?”
As an intentional neighbor of Cherith Brook, I have watched over the last five years as beauty has slowly been revealed. Every day at showers, our neighbors are given the opportunity to re-claim a bit of the beauty hidden within them. This seems especially true during Women’s Day and Second Saturday haircuts, when the makeovers and shine are infused with deep trust and joy. Patient manicures and pedicures, trims and shaves uncover smiles and bright eyes.
In addition to seeing people transform, I have watched places become more beautiful and hospitable. Saturday workdays usually show the most dramatic changes, but I’ve also noticed many little ways that everyday attentiveness and creativity have beautified spaces. Walking through the clothing closet or food pantry, the kitchen or shower room, hand-written labels and tailored modifications have created a warm kind of welcome that feels like home. The cafe space has been blessed with paintings, stained glass, and flowers. The front doorway to the main house, along with trim around the windows, has recently been renovated and re-painted, unveiling an old beauty.
The garden, though, is my favorite space to have watched take shape. Starting in the backyard and then stretching around to the front, raised beds and limestone-terraced hillsides now host all kinds of herbs, berries, squash, tomatoes, peppers and more. Not only has Cherith Brook claimed hundreds of square feet for food growing, but we have also made the entire space more beautiful. I recently stumbled across a Rumi quote: “Beauty surrounds us, but usually we need to be walking in a garden to know it.” Somehow, tending a garden -- watering it, weeding it, and watching things bloom and grow -- awakens me to beauty and hope. The garden demands careful persistent attention both to help it grow and keep it growing in good ways. Participating in Cherith Brook, whether working in the showers or in the dirt, is often like tending a garden. Every time I go, my eyes are opened to beauty that was hidden before.