Beauty

I’ve been reading
recently about beauty.
What is beauty?
How do you know
when you see it
or hear it?
What are its signs?
What is its purpose?
In the midst of my readings
I came across this quotation
from the French writer Blaise Pascal:
In difficult times you should always carry
something of the beautiful in your mind.

My initial response to his advice,
well over three hundred years old,
was mild surprise.
The paying of attention to beauty,
I had tended to think,
was for other sorts of times.
Times of leisure, for example.
Or when we’re feeling particularly creative.
Or when we’ve become inspired.
But Pascal says,
“Be sure to maintain a connection with beauty
when times are tough.”
I believe his words must have arisen
from the truth of his own life.
He was in frail health
most of his adult life,
and often in physical pain.
He lived his last years without much companionship
and in relative poverty.
He died when he was only 38.

For some of us, this may be a time
of great difficulty.
Even if that’s not entirely the case,
we each have those moments that try us,
those days that wear on us.
Those are the times, Pascal says,
to carry something beautiful within,
in our minds, in our hearts.
Such are the times to let beauty shine its light
on our spirits, in our souls.
We’re encouraged to allow
what is lovely to see and hear and touch
to be close enough to us
that we can see it and hear it and touch it.
How close?
As close as our own minds, our own hearts.
The reason is simple.
When we carry something of beauty within,
that beauty will carry us.

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