Raises questions about who is beautiful and why...

"The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths.  These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them wih compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern.  Beautiful people do not just happen."  ---- Elizabeth Kubler Ross

These days, celebrities and the wealthy are sometimes referred to as "the beautiful people."  From my view, cosmetic surgery, personal hairdressers and makeup artists, and expensive clothing are not what makes a person "beautiful."  The most beautiful woman I have known was my grandmother, Lucy Bistram Cotton.  

Grandma and her three sisters, ages 2,4,6, and 8 were left with their father when their mother went west.  In 1893 what was a laboring man to do with 4 little girls to raise?  Their grandmother died a short time later, so he took his girls to a convent where he felt they would be fed, educated, and kept safe.  They were fed and educated through the sixth grade.  The nuns were strict and harsh with punishment.  Grandma never forgave them for beating her little sister.  When the girls were competent in the kitchen, they sent to work as cooks, house keepers, and taking care of children.  By today's standards, the girls were still children themselves.  Each of those girls knew suffering, loss, and struggle.  Not one had the time to indulge in self pity or depression.

Each married in her late teens.  Grandma had five children of her own.  She took in several children who lost parents, or whose parents were too ill or too poor to care for them, or who were simply unwanted.  Some of those she took in were with grandma and grandpar for months, others until they were grown.   She and grandpa had a small farm in Minnesota and raised much of food she cooked and canned.  She had chickens and milked cows.  She made the soap that washed the clothes they all wore.  She tended the sick children, relatives, neighbors, and animals when they were ill or injured.  The summer I was 10, she cared for me night and day---and the doctor wanted me with her, saying I would get better care than I would in the hospital.

Although she did not have much "schooling," she had common sense and sensitivity.  She had an understanding of life,  gentleness, compassion for all, especially for children.

Although she had a "good dress" and a pair of "good shoes," they were worn only for special occassions such as funerals and she wore the same black dress with the lace top for as long as I can remember.  She had two cotton housedresses and aprons she sewed herself.  Her furniture was handed down.  She had little money, but she was generous to everyone at Christmas and birthdays.  She and I would walk up town to shop for gifts for all her children and grandchildren.  Those gifts were usually about a dollar:  a pair of socks, a tea towel, a box of chocolates.  All she could afford, but no one was forgotten.  And what fun it was to wrap all those gifts at this old table, where I still work and my family eats.

She was a humble woman.  But she enjoyed recalling her two big successes:  winning a waltz contest and winning a spelling bee with the word, "scissors."  But her real successes were having a finely tuned sense of justice and morality and the courage to stand up for those who could not stand up for themselves.

She was little, shy, and quiet, but I well remember when a fellow my grandpa knew showed up at the back door on a cold, cold day.  He had his little boy, perhaps about five or six, with him.  Ed wanted to show Grandpa the new engine he had purchased for his toy train (not the child's) and to borrow money.  Grandma saw the little boy in men's galoshes, way too big for him.  Out of compassion for the child, she invited them in, took the overshoes off the child and saw he had sox with holes, but no shoes under those old rubber over shoes.  Little, quiet grandma turned on Ed, like a furious mountain lion, and told him he should be ashamed of spending money on toys while his little boy had no shoes and his feet were nearly frozen.  Grandpa heard her uncharacteristic tone of voice and came to the door and backed her up.  The little boy was fed and given a pair of my sox, and Ed left without their money.  

As Kubler Rass said, Beautiful peoploe have an understanding of life that fills them with compassion and a loving concern.  Her own childhood of abandonment, abuse, and hard work did not make her bitter.  As Kubler-Ross said, "Beautiful people do not just happen."

So, I am not impressed with the winners of "Beauty pageants," or movie stars who have been rebuilt with plastic surgery, liposuction, and botox.  Nor, People of Priviledge who spend their riches on mansions, yachts, cars, drugs, jewels, multiple "homes."  Too often the "Beautiful People" are not.

Beauty is not physical appearance nor is it possessions.  Beauty is revealed by people overcoming suffering and struggle, and in the concern and compassion they have for others.