Yesterday morning I got up early and started the half hour drive to the Visitation Monastery in Tyringham. It is normally a lovely ride, mostly on seldom traveled roads. We had almost a foot of snow the day before so it was the new white variety of beauty that attracted me. All the gritty grey snowbanks had been transformed by a pristine white blanket of snow. When the sun came out and hit the branches and piles, it was breathtaking!
Driving along I suddenly noticed a beer can thrown on top of one of the roadside snowbanks. My first thought was that man quickly spoils the natural beauty around him by his careless actions. What a waste!
Upon reflection, though, I came to another thought. Man is the higher beauty. Yes, he can be careless and brutal and evil, but as the one creature made in the image and likeness of God, he is capable of such nobility, courage and charity. Yet how often do we prefer to gaze at the sunset or the waterfall or the mountaintop and neglect to look past the outer gruff bark of the people around us to discover the beauty underneath?
I think again of Tim’s encounter with the old gent in the tiny West Virginia store, the one with his cheek full of his wad of tobacco. Tim skipped the exterior and looked instead at the twinkle in his eye that bespoke the beauty within. What a lesson!