Heroism Is Always Beautiful

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The two heroes of Sutherland, Texas

The pictures above hopefully will help erase the other less comforting images from last Sunday in Sutherland, Texas. Wearing the hat is Johnnie Langendorff, 27, who drove his pickup in the chase after the vindictive gunman left the church in an attempt to escape the immediate area. To the right is Stephen Willeford, 55, who had grabbed his rifle and run out of his house barefooted when he heard the sound of gun shots coming from the church.

He confronted the shooter, Devin Patrick Kelley, leaving the church and managed to wound him as the  young man ran to his car. Kelley immediately raced away, but the older man, seeing Langendorff sitting in his pickup nearby, asked for help and they started the ninety-five mph chase down a local Farm to Market road.

Eventually Kelley lost control of his car and ended up in a ditch, then shot himself. Willeford and Langendorff guarded by waiting nearby until the Texas State Patrol arrived.

Pictures of the two heroes were taken the next evening at a local vigil for the victims of the tragedy at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs.

Although praised by both strangers and neighbors as a hero, Willeford insists that he doesn’t think of himself like that. “‘I’m no hero. All I want to stress today, is the people at that church, they’re friends of mine, they’re family, and every time I heard a shot I knew that probably represented a life.”

Even as he grabbed his gun and a pocketful of ammunition, he admits he was scared to death. “I was scared for me and I was scared for every one of them, and I was scared for my own family that lived less than a block away. I think my God, my Lord, protected me and gave me the skills to do what needed to be done. “
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If you are interested in reading more about these two men, both Conservative Tree House and Canada Free Press have articles today.

 

 

 

 

Beauty Equals Healing

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Chained Angel by Carrie Mixon

If we did not instinctively understand that experiencing something that is beautiful brings healing, we would not appreciate the quote by Alain de Botton that I posted two days ago.

It is perhaps when our lives are at their most problematic that 

we are likely to be most receptive to beautiful things.” 

But our everyday lives are filled with seeking beauty to comfort ourselves or others. When a friend is ill, we bring him flowers. After burials, at least in the South, we cover the grave with flowers. When a child cries, we automatically  sing to him.

When angry, we turn to the music of Grieg’s “In The Hall of The Mountain King” if we’d secretly like to sneak up on our enemy, or Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture,” if we’re ready for war. Either piece played at full volume alleviates our internal stress. Although sometimes we try to express our anger in the most potent way possible by using words ordinarily forbidden; the trouble is that profanity seldom helps as much as beauty.

A fairly recent cultural adaptation of using beauty to heal is the popularity of adult coloring books. Avid users insist that the quiet time involved in creating pleasing results helps to relieve anxiety – and avoid use of those forbidden words.

On the other hand, if the cause of our pain is unrequited love, both sexes often resort to the beautiful power of poetry. Yes, even the boys who sat in the back of literature class making jokes and rolling their eyes often find themselves jotting down rhyming words and muttering their newly minted lines that are intended to catch the fancy of the object of their affection. I know this because some of these male students  will even approach an English teacher asking for editorial assistance.

Sometimes we reach for beauty when fearful. The picture above, “Chained Angel,” was painted by a daughter whose mother just discovered she had breast cancer. The girl’s family had recently been torn asunder by a bitter divorce. She had felt abandoned by her father, and now even before those wounds had begun to heal, she faced losing her mother too. As the surgeries and treatment began, she painted because there were no words.

She felt chained to circumstances that she did not create and had no control over. Even the lesser dreams she recently had dared to believe in now seemed shattered.  Yet, while creating beauty with her own mind and her own hands, as she worked to illustrate the  struggle out of darkness into the light, she managed to overcome that double setback.*

The beauty that she created became part of the healing process for  the whole family. Indeed, it speaks to and for all of us who have felt chained by forces outside of ourselves and over which we have little or no control. Yet circumstances force us to  live with new realities. We have to “learn to make lemonade out of the lemons” brought into our lives. We must become angelic despite the chains because to do otherwise is untenable.

Copyright 2017 by Kaye Fairweather

*The good news is that her mother did recover and that her father did give her away at her wedding. 

Problems and Beauty?

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This quote from Alain de Button, The Architecture of Happiness, helps to explain the fact that we often never notice that one lone daffodil bravely emerging from the cold ground unless we’re needing reassurance during problematic times.

Speaking of problematic times, I’ve had my share of them the last couple of weeks. I promise to get back to blogging before the weekend. Thanks for understanding that life itself sometimes gets in our way.

My Current Mantra

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One of the most beautiful animals in the world – a horse.

If one defines oft repeated phrases as mantras, my favorites have slowly changed through the years from “pick up your toys” to “do your homework” to “remember that assignment is due Friday.” As someone who now mostly works with adults, I’ve again realized how much our own daily choices “make” our lives.  We often think that each life is comprised of big, important occasions, but the it’s the day-by-day humdrum decisions and attitudes that inexorably weave the pattern called by our name. Therefore, my newest mantra is “Choose to walk in beauty.”

I’ve come to see that beauty in its various forms not only soothes our physical and emotional pain, but it also serves as a lodestone drawing us toward that which is good and true — that which will benefit us most. So these days I encourage everyone to consciously walk in beauty every single day.

Think for a moment. Striving for beauty simplifies all of our choices while subtly encouraging us to make better ones. When someone takes your picture, do you smile or do you frown like the last time you were angry? When a guest is expected, do you clean the rooms and buy flowers for the table? Or do you leave jackets draped haphazardly on the furniture and Lego pieces on the floor? When you’re feeling down, do you prefer someone yelling obscenities to hearing someone singing songs? Choosing beauty instead of exasperation, beauty instead of slovenly habits, or beauty instead of coarseness makes us better and life more satisfying.

The good news is that everywhere we look we can enjoy beauty without spending a penny. Flowers, lovers walking hand in hand, trees, sunsets, meadows, prairies, toddlers discovering clover, mountain peaks, snow covered pines, hod carriers working on a new city building, green grass, rocks hewn by the wind and water, autumn leaves, horses, and more delight our eyes everywhere we turn. Then there’s the beauty of music and numbers and problems solved and sharing new ideas, and observing kindness in action. Beauty is easily available for those who choose it.

I believe that just as fish are made to swim in water, we were made to walk in beauty. And choosing to do so brings us real joy, not mere pleasure. Walking in beauty means we have to observe and use beauty as a map or guide for choosing our pathway each day. Then that joy quadruples when we help others become aware of their own beauty.

Copyright 2017 by Kaye Fairweather