You spend an hour on the phone with a girlfriend assuring her that she is enough, she is beautiful and kind. But when the conversation ends you know she doesn’t believe you.
How do we give truth to others in a way that they will believe? How do we receive truth?
We have to live it first.
Your 14-year-old son sits beside you on the couch and looks over your shoulder at the screen. Then he looks at you.
“You look old,” he says. Automatically the hand goes to the hair, the face. You feel your body against your bones, whole and round. You are aware you take up too much space.
“Well, I’m not young,” you say, laughing toward his smooth skin. His beautiful eyes. Later, you stare in the mirror. Pull the skin back from your center, suck in your tummy, lift your breasts up to where they used to be. Where has time gone? Who is this person looking back at you?
Where were you when this world decided what would be called beautiful? Wouldn’t you have spoken up for a few things? For crow’s feet and stretch marks? The chicken pox scars at the corner of the eye? And this loose skin that used to house another—that carried a heartbeat underneath its swelling curve. Isn’t this beauty?
The memory of beauty is not enough. You must call it beautiful now. But you think no one will believe you. You wear your body like a loose-fitting sweater. Who could believe such a contrast? You thought you were too smart for this. To get caught in this trap of regret, of longing for the particular beauty of youth. Yet here you are, casting aside all the years this body has been faithful. Shouldn’t they count for something?
When you look at the soft crown of white on others, you name it beautiful. This is the richer beauty—the rings hidden inside the trunk of each tree, each layer of growth speaking the stories that hold witness there. Do you dare look deeper into your own skin? Do you dare to name yourself beautiful?
In the dark forest of thoughts this is the singular tree that stands erect. The years grow on her like skin, layer after layer of time wrapping around her bony skeleton as she becomes. This is beauty—this becoming, this constant growing.
Step softly into the beauty of time. Don it like a gown. Let it fall swirling around your ankles; let it halo around your brow. This is the gift you can give to others: live in truth.
You are beautiful.
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