Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Every morning I lay out Lily's clothes. I run my fingers over the fabrics, match her dresses to her tights, choose hairbows and shoes. She gets dressed and then comes to me with her brush.
I run my fingers through her silky hair. I brush, I braid. I kiss her head and then say "Okay, turn around."
She does, preening a bit. And always she asks me "Mama, do I look beautiful?"

And of course I say yes, because her face and her eyes and her lips and her smile are beautiful.

She asked me today what made her beautiful. I quickly told her God did, and shuffled her off to school.

But I kept returning to her question. It was deeper than the words. She wanted to know what beauty IS.

In this I struggle. I want to explain it to her, but how do you explain beauty in words a 3 year old can understand?

I want her to know that it is pleasing that she has a pretty face. Her beauty is external, but that what is so important is her soul.

Beauty is her face when she sees a friend and she lights up.

Beauty is her compassion when somebody she cares for is sad.

Beauty is the turn of her head into my chest as she snuggles.

It's the way she picks a flower for her neighbors.

The way her little soul opens to the world, always loving, always giving.

It's in the way she calls out "I love you!!!" to everyone.

It's in her pretty almond eyes filled with tears when she is being reprimanded.

It's her hand in mine, her kiss on my cheek, her whispered secrets.

It is her.

Beauty is fluid. It is an ever shifting idea. I could tell her of what society thinks is beautiful, but she will come upon that soon enough.

For now, I will show her that beauty is more about what your life IS than what you look like. It is in the love you give, and the light of God you show. It is in the openess of your smile, the work of your hands, and the willingness of your spirit to be shaped.

It is in being broken, mended, and broken again.

It's scars and bruises and remembered pain.

It's in the love others show her and the things they teach her.

It's in nature, the changing of seasons, the gunmetal sky, the buttery sun.

Beauty is, and she is beauty.