Beauty Equals Healing


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. 

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