Recently I saw a meme on Facebook. It is a cartoon drawing of three older women sitting around talking. The caption above says, "Once we were young and beautiful. Now we are just beautiful." This got me to thinking.
I also saw a photo gallery of Prince Phillip on Facebook. It started with his baby picture. Then about 20 photos followed documenting the way that he had aged over time. The young child in the first photo seemed to only bear a slight resemblance to the 99 year old Phillip at the end. But one can see how his face gradually changed from infant to elderly man over time.
Our society spends so much time thinking about beauty. Commercial after commercial on television give us ways to lose weight. There is product after product giving us ways to remove hair. Cosmetic surgeons offer things like botox and plastic surgery to keep us looking young. Hair products promise both men and women ways to get rid of the gray and keep us looking younger. No one wants to look their age.
This worrying about age goes on all of our lives. When I was at seminary, one of the classes we had to take was Pastoral Care where we were assigned to a hospital ward and acted as a chaplain there. On the first day we were assigned to our different wards. I was on a medical ward. The first patient that I got to visit was a woman who I will call Grace. Grace was a woman in her late eighties who was dying from a blood condition and did not have long to live. As we were talking, Grace talked about how she had been a model and had appeared in many magazines and newspapers as a young woman. She went on to say, "Now look at me. I am old and no longer beautiful." I tried to console her, but she would not have it. She was convinced that she was no longer beautiful.
The thing though she was still beautiful. Maybe she did not know it, but visiting her made me feel comfortable in my temporary role of chaplain. Talking with her soothed my nerves. I am sure to others who knew her, she had touched them in some ways. I am sure she had been a confidante, a friend, and what have you. Physically, like Prince Phillip, the years may have taken their toll on her glamour girl looks. Her spirit though I am sure was as beautiful as ever to those who knew her. I know her ability to talk and share with a nervous student chaplain made her beautiful to me. Yet she would never know.
For all of us who are living, time takes it's toll on the body. Those of us who are lucky enough to live past middle age are bound to find grey hair on our heads (or in my case my beard). We also might find wrinkles. Chances are as we grow older we are less and less likely to find ourselves on glamour magazines. Our true beauty though does not rest in our looks. Our true beauty lies in ways we mean something to others, how we are kind to others, how we reach out to them, how we touch our lives and how we help them whether we know it or not. Blessings.