Over these past several months, I’ve written a lot about beauty because I’ve experienced so much of it! However, I’ve also witnessed ugliness and felt it firsthand.
This world isn’t all glory-filled, sunshiney days. There is pain. There is sadness. There is despair and poverty and cruelty and evil. There are unwarranted, confusing disparities that just don’t make sense sometimes. There are people in this world who take for granted the lives they’re given, and there are those who violate others to fill voids inside themselves — the depths of which I’m grateful I don’t understand.
Let me be frank — this world can seem pretty fucked up sometimes. The goodness can seem overtaken by gruesome, awful, anger-inducing evil which can rock us to our cores and really piss us off. I’m a pretty calm, accepting, go-with-the-flow kind of girl — for this I am grateful. But, right now, I’m feeling upset and hurt and just plain mad and it’s been hard for me to feel my spirit shine after being wronged.
This morning, while trying to distract myself from my stress and anger, I stumbled into a church. It’s a couple weeks before Easter and the Latin American world is full of festivties. Antigua, the town I’m in now, is renowned for its celebrations and the town is packed — all hostels and hotels booked and the streets are full. So anyway, I’m in this church wearing flip flops and a leopard print tank, shoulders covered by a little beige scarf (an attempt at modesty), my blond curls looking like a floppy messy mop (which has become the norm for me these days), and I’m surrounded by a couple hundred black-haired, short, beautiful Guatemalans dressed in their finest traditional attire. I didn’t fit in, but I wanted to be there… I felt safe, protected, comfortable.
I wandered around for a while, looked at the multi-colored, insanely ornate sawdust artworks covering the floors near the altars, gazed into a few pairs of oddly content Virgin Mary eyes… I was still pouting. I was still grumbling and confused… I was still trying hard to keep my small beige wrap pulled tight around me, hoping to go unnoticed as much as possible.
And then… something happened. I felt beauty again! The world’s beauty started beaming right out of these people and the paintings and the statues and altars… I was brought to tears simply by feeling the grace of Spirit once again. Despite deciding I didn’t want to be in this country any longer, that I’d had it with Guatemala and Guatemalan people, I was once again brought back into the light. I was reminded that the vast majority of people in this world are good — we are loving, beautiful beings!
I sat down in a pew and before I knew it I was a gringo girl in the middle of a Guatemalan Easter-prep mass. Ok, it was noon on Saturday… Maybe this is a normal time for a Catholic mass but I hadn’t a clue… (Maybe people just like sitting in churches like I do?)
Hearing the priest speak verses and prayers in Spanish, standing and kneeling alongside everyone else, I felt grace. Grace of god, grace of the universe, grace of life’s positive energy… whatever it is, I felt it.
I started crying. I closed my eyes and clasped my hands, knelt, and prayed. I prayed for light and peace to come back into my heart. I prayed for forgiveness for this other person, and strength for me.
Although I’ve been blessed to live a good, happy life, I’ve also experienced quite a bit of pain in the last five or so years. I’ve learned the grieving process quite well, and one thing I know for sure is that it requires strength to really let yourself go through the full process.
So, I prayed.
Living with both realities
How can we live in a world with both Jekyl and Hide realities ever present? With peace and majestic perfectness, but also with madness and grief? I don’t think I know… I don’t have the answer, but I do know that despite seeing and feeling ugliness, I know I have to keep my head high and my eyes focused on the sunshine, and try to fill my heart with forgiveness. Although I may be clouded with pain, I know there is so much joy in this world to compensate for the misery. There is plenty of grace to go around…
So, for everyone living lives in physical or mental pain who have experienced trauma and are victims of violence, theft, abuse, etc., please know that you are loved and that you must keep going. That you must continue to let the light in despite feeling that darkness is all you see. We’re light beings, full of truth and genuinely positive energy, and we must do what we can to spread light, not darkness. Evil breeds evil, but goodness will always overcome if we make it our mission.
So please, let love back in. When ugliness rears its head and tries to throw you off course, stand firm in the light and breathe. Let yourself grieve. And cry, scream, run, dance, go to church… Do whatever you must to expel the bad energy from your life, but whatever you do, don’t let ugliness break your spirit.
You’re beautiful, and you deserve beauty. Always.