Many years ago when we lived in Oregon, we knew a woman who occasionally worked at our local library as a substitute librarian. It would be hard to find someone who was uglier than this poor woman. She had scraggly black hair heavily leaning toward gray, blackened and rotting teeth (many of which were missing), and a plump shapeless body.
And I have seldom met anyone so beautiful.
I'm serious -- she exuded a sort of goodness from every pore that, within thirty seconds of talking with her, you forgot all about what she looked like and only saw what she WAS like.
She and her husband (who, I might add, doted on her) had raised their kids and were in the process of taking in a succession of foster children, some of whom they adopted. While I have little patience or liking for CPS, the world needs more foster parents like these. This lady was a natural mother, blending love and consistency and strictness into a wonderful whole.
Recently I saw a Bible verse highlighted: "The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
This struck me as eminently sensible on the part of the Lord. We're not all blessed to be model-beautiful. Those who are beautiful are noticed immediately -- it's a human characteristic to appreciate physical beauty -- but it doesn't take people long to figure out whether beauty is skin deep or body-deep.
While I have no doubt this librarian was occasionally snarked by thoughtless and shallow people who saw only her poor teeth and unattractive face, those of us lucky enough to know her a little better saw the ugliness swallowed up by the inner beauty. And, not incidentally, those fortunate beautiful people who open their mouths and spew hatred and vitriol are soon enough viewed as the ugly people they are.
Do people notice pearly white teeth or a pearly white soul? Do people noticed blackened and broken teeth, or a blackened and broken soul?
Audrey Hepburn, whom I admire because her beauty was far more than skin deep, was once asked how to be beautiful. Her immortal response:
"For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. For beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day. For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone. People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms. As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others."
Another sage, Marguerite de Valois, once observed, "Have a care lest the wrinkles in the face extend to the heart."
I would far rather be friends with the ugly librarian than the beautiful people who might mock her for her ugliness.
Just some thoughts on a chilly Friday morning.