It has been a long day and it is late. Perhaps I shall learn to be brief. :-) I was later than usual coming home because a therapy group for women had its final meeting tonight. They had first gathered 7 weeks ago, coming together in search of self esteem. Some had experienced abuse, many had experienced divorce, almost all had bad feelings about their bodies. In the course of the 7 weeks, we discussed a number of topics, reflecting on such things as boundaries and assertiveness and self talk. We talked about life as a process with all of us being works-in-progress, and the group just a few steps on the journey.
When I came out to get them this evening, they were all sitting together in the waiting area and burst into laughter when I walked in. Not just a little laughter. Uproarious laughter. They later confessed that they had been placing bets on what time I was going to come out for the 7 o'clock group. (The times wagered upon ranged from 7:06 to 7:15). When I thanked the 7:06 person for her confidence in me, another member quipped that it was just that all the longer times were already taken. More laughter. And they generously told me I was worth waiting for. (For the record, I came out at 7:08 pm...) Such lovely, lovely women.
In one of my neighborhood walks recently, I noticed a small, carved wooden sign planted amidst a simple garden in front of a church. I had walked that way many times before but had never paid much attention to it. Most of the church postings were in Spanish but I could read this sign: "Matthew 6: 26-34". Of course I took a picture of the sign, complete with a little sparrow perched on top, peering down with curiosity. An excerpt from the passage:
"Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them."In the the picture above, I see that splendor in the rose. I see it and I wonder: what could God have said to "cause it to laugh in full-blown beauty"? Of course, I do not know. But, as he implies in the passage from Matthew, this is just the beginning, "are you not more important than they?" And the Sufi mystic Rumi intimates that God says the very same thing to my heart. And to your heart. And to the hearts of the women tonight, some of them just beginning to learn to laugh their full-blown beauty.
Let us laugh out our beauty, each in our own unique color and size and shape. Let us laugh it together, with all our imperfections and doubts and fears. And let us watch it multiply and multiply, becoming "a hundred times more beautiful".