I never really thought my hands were very attractive. They’re just hands, after all. Working hands, not model hands. They are sturdy hands, hands covered in freckles and not as smooth as they once were – age not being kind to one’s skin. If I only looked at the outside of my hands and judged them solely on their appearance, I would dismiss them at a glance. But the outer appearance isn’t really what is important.
My hands have rocked babies, cooked meals, doctored goats, butchered chickens, cleaned homes, mucked stalls, hugged loved ones, gathered eggs, planted seedlings, harvested ripe produce, held an eager horse in check with rein and bit, bottle fed calves, written pages and pages of heartfelt words, painted pictures, sketched pencil drawings . . . My hands have experienced all I have experienced and have served me well. Does it matter so much what they look like?
Why do we get so caught up in how things look when how they work is so much more important? How can a perceived negative appearance cancel out all the good that has been done in the past? Why are we so quick to dismiss that which, at first glance, doesn’t appeal to our idea of perfection or “beauty”?
What is beauty anyway? Whose standard are we using when we see something as beautiful or not? Do we allow Hollywood, marketing teams, or the latest fads and trends determine our standards? Who do we listen to? Who should we?
“As to what good qualities, there may be in our souls, or who dwells within them, or how precious they are—those are things which are never considered and so we trouble little about carefully preserving the soul’s beauty. All our interest is centered in the rough setting of the diamond and in the outer wall of the castle—that is to say in these bodies of ours.”
Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle, 1577**
Even if our outer beauty is of the utmost perfection at this moment, it will not last, it cannot. Souls last forever, this shell of ours does not. Cultivate what matters while you can, both in yourself and in everyone around you.
Our bodies can serve us well and faithfully all our lives, but not because of our appearance. Don’t worry so much about the outer wall when the inner castle is where the importance lies.
**I read the above quote in the latest edition of Small Farmer’s Journal (smallfarmersjournal.com) This is an awesome magazine for those who love draft horses, old ways of farming, vintage and new horse drawn implements, stories of farm life, ranching . . . One of my favorite magazines! Check it out!
Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds at meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious - the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you have learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into His most excellent harmonies.
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