Beauty is not just seen brightly, it is felt

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Viewpoints - ERIN BEN­NING

I awoke to the ocean and I was forty-five.

It took only sec­onds for me to re­mem­ber where I was, as I opened my eyes to the sun­rise sprin­kling the room with colour and light, the fire­place still burn­ing and the ocean only steps away.

Slowly turn­ing over in the most lux­u­ri­ous Cal­i­for­nia queen bed, I stretched and cud­dled deeper into the satin white du­vet and be­gan to wake up. I am slow to wake, and this sun­shine filled morn­ing was not dif­fer­ent in that way, de­spite the lo­ca­tion and the date. I’d ar­rived the night be­fore af­ter sit­ting in air­ports and air­planes for the bet­ter half of a day, find­ing my way to the ocean through the sky.

I hadn’t re­ally made plans for this trip – only know­ing where I’d stay – hav­ing de­cided that par­tic­u­lar de­tail many months ago, well, a year ago. The Mag­no­lia Ho­tel my only com­mit­ment, and my only in­ten­tion to wake up each day, start walk­ing and let the day lead me where I needed to go. And that’s what I did.

And so that morn­ing, hav­ing sat by the fire, gaz­ing out at the wa­ter over a de­lec­ta­ble cof­fee, I headed down­stairs, out onto the brick street and be­gan to walk. It was part way through that first trek to the oceans edge that I came upon him.

I could see them up ahead, two men sit­ting cross legged on the side­walk, tucked back as to not be in the way. They were part of the land­scape ahead re­ally, as I trun­dled up the hill on my way to find more open ocean views. I was dis­tracted, and think­ing how I’d man­age to get there, as I’d mud­dled through sev­eral wrong turns try­ing to get to the trail along­side the sea, ask­ing peo­ple for direc­tions as I went and try­ing to use the map on my phone with­out much suc­cess.

I had just come back to the main walk­way from a wrong turn down a trail, re­trac­ing my steps and look­ing up the hill to where they were, when I headed to­wards them, smil­ing and hum­ming. I was truly en­joy­ing be­ing lost and know­ing that if I kept go­ing, I’d find my way. And I did.

As I walked up the hill, he came more into view, his dark hair and boy­ish smile vis­i­ble as he turned his head to­ward me. The sun shone onto his cheeks and his en­tire face lit up with his smile. As I ap­proached and said hello, I smiled and paused just a lit­tle, as he said hello back. With an­other step, he turned to his friend, seated nearby, his voice soft and full of life and ut­tered the words that have stuck with me since.

He said, ‘The sun was in my eyes but I knew she was beau­ti­ful’.

I was struck by his words and walked on up the hill. He saw the beauty in me, with­out see­ing me at all. And I know, that only a truly gra­cious heart sees that deeply. I had been think­ing the same thought of him in that sliver of time, when our worlds col­lided. His and mine, so dif­fer­ent, on the out­side.

Truly, I’d never felt more beau­ti­ful than in that mo­ment. The beauty of life all around me and his stun­ning light con­tin­u­ing to warm my heart as I fi­nally found my way to the oceans edge and looked out to where to sky met the wa­ter.

It would have been easy for me to cross the street and take a dif­fer­ent path when I saw them, but I didn’t. I let the trail take me where my heart wanted to go and the trail took me past him. I think I needed to walk that path and have him touch my heart in a way it hadn’t been touched for a while.

So, this week I hope you find and share love and beauty with the peo­ple you pass by. And re­mem­ber, true beauty is felt, not just seen.

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