The Grace of Beauty; Its Mystery, Power & Delight In Daily Life
"Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it," said Confucius. In a world beset by the ugliness of war and hatred, greed and injustice of every kind, not forgetting violence to this beautiful planet we call our earthly home, we all need to seek, find, and let our hearts rest in the experience of beauty. Enabling the reader to discover the grace of that beauty is this book by the author who is a religious Sister of Notre Dame in Chardon, Ohio. Not the beauty found in fashion tabloids, but the true beauty, "ever ancient, ever new," sought by Saint Augustine (4th century) and countless philosophers, artists, musicians, poets, and holy people down the centuries. Bringing to bear her multifaceted background on this treatise, Melannie Svoboda who has served as a high school and college teacher, novice director, and provincial superior of her congregation, leads the reader to see beauty as having the power to draw us to the ultimate source of all beauty and grace, our Creator God or more accurately, our constantly Creating God!
Essentially, it was Saint Augustine's experience of God as Beauty that radically altered the trajectory of his life, leading to the phenomenon of his conversion. Our experience of beauty through THE GRACE OF BEAUTY can have a similar impact on us; the grace of beauty itself having the power to realign our mind and heart toward the very source of all beauty, our Beloved God. Essentially, too, both the beauty and the ugliness we experience at every turn in life can affect us in many ways. It can stop us in our tracks, lighten or burden our heart, calm or heighten our anxiety, ease or worsen our pain, move us to tears of gladness or sadness, or awaken in us the sense that we are part of something much larger than ourselves. Well, this book, the author's response to the breaking of beauty and of ugliness alike in our day-to-day life, brings out THE GRACE OF BEAUTY by exploring ITS MYSTERY, POWER & DELIGHT IN DAILY LIFE, the kind that evokes from the depths of our being a hushed "Wow!" or a heartfelt "Thank you, God!"
Indeed, a cursory glance at the 'Contents' pages itself indicates that the book literally delves into the relationship of beauty first to God, and then to other aspects of our lives, such as love, Creation, healing, friendship, morality, service, brokenness, humour, and even grief.
Interestingly, each chapter of THE GRACE OF BEAUTY, consisting as it does of an introductory quote, a reflection and questions for personal or communal sharing, concludes with a prayer, a poem, or a short meditation related to the theme of the chapter. Firmly believing that music can promote prayerful silence that enriches our pondering, a music video from YouTube is also suggested in every chapter.
With a Master's in English and Spirituality under her belt, Svoboda, who has no less than 13 books to her credit, may be visited on her blog Sunflower Seeds at www.melanniesnd.org.
LADISLAUS LOUIS D'SOUZA