focus

Beauty Saves

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My daughter is beautiful, stunningly beautiful.

The above picture I believe captures her natural beauty, personality, character, innocence and playfulness. I realize that my interpretation of her beauty is subjective. You may think that my daughter is cute, but find that your child is actually the most gorgeous in the world. And so it goes with every parent on the planet. It is easy to be blown away by our children’s beauty. To be captivated by beauty of any kind is necessary to all of humanity. This is why we need great paintings, music and films. We need beauty to captivate us, inspire us, and move us from complacency to action, to transformation. As one of my favorite authors, Fyodor Dostoevsky once said, “Beauty will save the world.”

It does. It has. And it will continue to do so.

I had never really thought about beauty as a saving power. Since the birth of my daughter this has changed. I am surrounded by many beautiful things my wife being one of thee most beautiful. Even though beauty surrounds me often I tend to ignore it, or not allow it to drive me towards transformation.

I used to drive across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge in the state of Maryland all the time. The view from that bridge is pretty spectacular. On one side you have a great shot of Washington DC that is postcard worthy. On the other side sits the National Harbor, which has become a visual masterpiece, particularly at night with its lights. Most of the time my focus was on the traffic that builds up on the bridge. Not postcard worthy. Getting to work on time and wishing I could live closer to work were the usual domination thoughts and focus as I slowly crossed this bridge. Beauty literally flanked me and these were my thoughts.

We do this often.

We put on the blinders and push through because we have deadlines, places to be, and people to meet. Yet, beauty continues to call on us; to draw us in so that we can seize to be complacent; to move us into action; to transform us. Beauty asks us to slow down. To see. To listen. To gaze. Life is too good and too beautiful to be lived at 90 mph. If we want to enjoy it we have to take it in, slowly. Driving past the Mona Lisa is very different than standing in front of it for a while.

This is why a relationship with God (the originator of all that is beautiful) necessarily requires that we slow down, listen and spend time in His presence—what I would call gazing. Beauty draws us into an intimate place where we are able to see, listen and gaze, but it also draws out the gifts we have been given. Beauty stirs within us and in that stirring those gifts surface. We recognize these gifts and are challenged to use them. Action. Transformation. My daughter has helped me in this tremendously. All it takes is a moment in front of her and beauty moves me.

A new year lies ahead of us. We can chose to put the blinders on and go through it as if it were a race to be run. Or, we can allow ourselves to be stirred by the beauty that surrounds us, because “Beauty will save the world”. It does. It has. And it will continue to do so.

Categories: art, beauty, daughters, fatherhood, focus, God, new year, Transformation, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Now: the duty of the moment.

now_watchRight now you are reading this blog that I wrote a few days ago. Right now you are processing this sentence. That moment has passed and you are now left with this moment. Have you ever realized that ‘now’ is all we really have? The past is gone; the future is ahead of us. All we have is this moment. Now.

I don’t know about you but I find myself thinking a lot about the things I did in the past. “I shouldn’t have said that”, “I wish I had done that differently”, “I really should have…” I also tend to think about all that I have to do, the things to come. “I have to get that talk put together by next Saturday”, “I really need to clean the gutters”, etc. Yet the past is gone and I can’t go back to it, and the future is ahead of me and I can’t get to it. Once the future is here—now—will I be looking ahead to other future events or will I contemplate on it as a past event?

Catherine de Hueck Doherty was a very wise and holy woman who had a phrase that has always stuck with me: The duty of the moment. Catherine referred to the duty of the moment as the now that we must focus on and give 100% of ourselves to. The now that is our duty and all that we have in that moment.

This is a quote from a talk she gave to a Catholic group on the matter,

“The duty of the moment is what you should be doing at any given time, in whatever place God has put you. If you have a child, your duty of the moment may be to change a dirty diaper. So you do it. But you don’t just change that diaper, you change it to the best of your ability, with great love for both God and that child…There are all kinds of good Catholic things you can do, but whatever they are, you have to realize that there is always the duty of the moment to be done. And it must be done, because the duty of the moment is the duty of God.”

We cannot forget the past because it is ours, but we cannot live in it. We cannot ignore the future because it potentially will be ours to live in, but it isn’t here yet. Now is all that we have. This moment. What ever lies before you right now is your “duty of the moment”.  It is the thing that you should give all of your energy, love and focus to. It is the thing that you have been tasked with and should be your priority.

The now that I have with my family is more important than the past or the future because the now is real, is here, it is tangible and in front of me.

May we all focus on the “duty of the moment.” May we all be present to our families, today, now.

Categories: enjoying the moment, fatherhood, fathers, focus, living in the moment, Parenting, time management, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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