Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Of a certain, beautiful age

Maybe I won't truly understand the phenomenon until I cross some invisible line between middle age and "older," but for now I'm a bit perplexed about why women of a certain age have so much trouble seeing their beauty.

With a nice round number creeping up to mark off the years of my life, I find myself looking around at women 10 to 20 years or so older than I am. I know that a lot of women my age are still very much of a mind to compare themselves to their contemporaries, as well as to women much younger, but I find that exercise pointless.  It edifies no one.

But when I look through my car window and see a woman in a car across from mine--one who is old enough to be an older sister or mother to me--I can't help feeling like I want to put the window down and say, "Has anyone told you recently how divinely beautiful you are? Has anyone told you how thankful they are for you and your life?" If I actually pulled a stunt like that I'm sure there would be a lot of awkward responses and quick getaways, but the idea of "older" women finding a new cache of beauty in themselves warms my heart just the same.

Some have gorgeous skin and twinkling eyes.  Some are wrinkled and worn. Some look younger than their years, and some look much older. Yet each woman is a treasure...someone special with much to continue sharing into the world...and into our lives...into my life.

Today I met a lovely woman named Deborah. She was just beautiful. Her voice. Her demeanor. Her smile. The gleam in her eyes...everything about her was attractive, and she looked, acted, and sounded so remarkably like someone I hold dear that I was a bit overcome with emotion. When Deborah noticed how flustered I became I couldn't help fidgeting with my phone and pulling up a photo for her to see.

The revelation in the air between Deborah and me was extraordinary. I was breathing in the sacred sweetness of God's little gift to me at a moment when I was sorely missing the beautiful woman in the photograph. And Deborah was exhaling gratitude for having seen herself in that same woman's though she'd forgotten her own extraordinary loveliness, and had been given a glamorous self-portrait.  

Deborah wasn't looking at the photo and remembering herself as a once-attractive, middle aged woman of declining worth and beauty. Deborah looked at the photo and saw herself beautiful in the here and now. If I could only reproduce and package the sudden, glorious awareness that Deborah exuded! I'd run around giving it away free to every woman I could find. It was a spectacular moment.

I couldn't help wishing that I could at least capture Deborah's precious self-recognition.  I'd have fused it through the picture and into the woman whose face was smiling out from my screen. After all, when you receive a compliment like the one Deborah emitted so delightfully and spontaneously, you should be able to feast on it a bit.

Perhaps this post is no great insight for anyone--no clever or wise commentary on the things of the Spirit--but I can't help putting these thoughts out into the world, and hoping that everyone who stumbles upon them will be inspired to raise up and celebrate each woman they encounter...especially women of a certain, beautiful age.

Here's a few examples of what they look like so you'll be sure to recognize 'em all around you...

Aren't they just beautiful...?!?!?!

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