Learning from Beauty

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David by Michelangelo — 1501-1504 — Marble

Galleria dell’Accademia, Florence, Italy

“In every work of art, something is being asserted about God and the world he has made, and that something measures up, in varying degrees to what God Himself has revealed to us. This applies to all forms of art.” 

from a blog post by Deacon Lawrence: “The Artist Teaches Through His Art” found at https://www.thewayofbeauty.org/blog/2018/7/the-artist-teaches-through-his-art

Note from One Eye and Half Sense – When Michelangelo carved this depiction of David as a young shepherd, most other artists had shown David after defeating Goliath, complete with gruesome pictures of the dead giant. However, this artist illustrates the youthful warrior just before the battle, his slingshot, somewhat nonchalantly, thrown over his shoulder.  Yet David’s body is tense as he studies his enemy, planning the precision throw that will achieve his goal, just as it had done many times before when facing wild animals preying on his sheep. And thus, beauty teaches us to rethink our suppositions and consider with more care the world around us, perhaps finding a new way to solve a problem.

 

America Is Beautiful! Happy #242 Birthday !

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O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.

America is unique in the history of the world. It is a beautiful country filled with beautiful people, accomplishing beautiful feats. Although quite imperfect, there persists a thread of greatness in the U.S. that still attracts more would-be immigrants than it can possibly accept. 

Unlike countries tied together by common blood lines, the United States is a different model tied together by the principles of natural law. Our raison d’être is established in the Declaration of Independence. Every subsequent law implements the fact that all men, whatever differences they may have in skin color, talents, ancestry, wealth, or intelligence are created equal. That is, each one is entitled to equality of respect and opportunity, but not the equality of circumstances. 

During two-hundred and forty-two years since the founding, this type of government and environment have produced men and women of uncommon valor, talent, and generosity. While the country has, unfortunately,  produced criminals in the government, in the churches, and in the general population, it has also unleashed an unbelievable amount of creativity that benefits everyone. The fields of technology and machinery alone have transformed the daily life of people in every corner of the world. 

Five times in the twentieth century, American military forces offered their wealth, their weapons, their time, their talent, and their lives to save people in other countries from tyrants. Today, on July 4, 2018, we at One Eye and Half Sense, honor that particular beauty – the beauty of selflessness. 

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Arlington Cemetery – Procession to the burial site.

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern impassion’d stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America! God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

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O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev’ry gain divine!

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O Beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam,
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

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“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”        John 15:13

 The US Cemetery at Normandy, just above Omaha Beach is pictured above. As you walk around the cemetery with row upon row upon row of crosses and Stars of Davids, it finally begins to dawn on you the enormity of the sacrifice that Americans made to save Europe in World War II.

Having talked to two survivors of the D-Day invasion, I assure you that those 18 to 30 year-old young men were frightened by what they saw and what they endured. And yet, they bravely obeyed in spite of their fears, in spite of trembling hands, in spite of vomiting at the carnage surrounding them. And where they could not obey original orders because of snafus, they improvised. There is no way to thank even the ones who came home and lived long lives, much less the ones who perished defending freedom.

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This is the original quote by General Clark at Anzio, Italy. Part of it was carved into a wall at the Normandy Beach Memorial.

“On Memorial Day we visited the American cemetery at Anzio and saw the curving rows of white crosses that spoke eloquently of the price that America and her Allies had paid for the liberation of Italy. “If ever proof were needed that we fought for a cause and not for conquest, it could be found in these cemeteries. Here was our only conquest: all we asked of Italy was enough of her soil in which to bury our gallant dead.” ”        General Mark W. Clark

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Another view of the Normandy Memorial Cemetery. American soldiers volunteered to die for their own people and for the oppressed people across the ocean whom they did not know and whose language and customs were foreign to them. They were idealistic young men who wanted to preserve freedom for others.

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Over-view of the Normandy Cemetery showing the Memorial Building which houses artifacts and documents about the battle.

None of us are forgetful of other wars brave American soldiers have fought in since the decisive World War II: Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East.  The United States has paid a high price with both blood and treasure in conflicts that some have deemed unnecessary. While God determines whose decisions were righteous and whose were selfish, the unique people of this unique nation remain loyal, diligent, and obedient even when sent on questionable missions because they    “more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life!”

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Finding Beauty when Difficulties Arise

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Photograph from the movie, Babette’s Feast

“In a world of disaster and fraud, sometimes only beauty can be trusted. Only artistic excellence is incorruptible. Pleasure cannot be bargained down. And sometimes the meal is the only currency that is real.”

Elizabeth Gilbert,  Eat, Pray, Love

This Is A Beautiful Woman, VIII

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December 16, 1960 Rehearsal Dinner for Kaye and Her Knight in Shining Armor

Right to left: Sunny, Ralph, and Kaye’s Cousin

Life with Father – Kaye’s Chosen Father, That Is

Although both Sunny and Ralph obviously enjoyed each other’s company from the beginning, no one would call it a whirlwind courtship. After all, they both were responsible adults with demanding jobs and limited free time. Sunny’s younger son still lived at home. Besides, Dallas was a two-and-a-half to a three-hour drive from Temple.  Since both had grown or almost grown children, there were additional serious considerations that young singles don’t even contemplate.

However, Kaye and Ralph kept developing their friendship with occasional lunches out at various Temple restaurants. These meetings often included discussions about the boys she was dating.  Kaye quickly learned to detect approval or disapproval through fleeting facial expressions and probing questions. Those questions usually helped her see possible flaws that she should consider before getting too involved.

She also got a taste of his extreme generosity at one lunch in a local two-bit cafe that he frequented enough to know the waitress personally. Once when she was away from the table, he quietly explained that she was a single mother with two grade school children trying to make ends meet. When the waitress returned, he asked about the children and offered a small tidbit of fatherly advice. As they left the restaurant, Kaye happened to see the bill and realized that his tip was more than the cost of the meal. 

During Kaye’s senior year, she met the man she felt certain would be her “knight in shining armor.” So within weeks Kaye, her “knight,” and her “chosen” father met in Dallas so Sunny could meet him too. The two generation foursome doubled dated that Saturday for a lovely evening of dinner and dancing. Everyone passed the first test — and many subsequent tests, double dates, and family gatherings. In December of 1960, after Kaye had graduated and had begun her teaching career, Ralph gave her away to her “knight” at their small, family  wedding in Belton. 

Perhaps one of the reasons it took Ralph and Sunny such a long time to walk down the aisle themselves is that they had so little time alone. When in Dallas, Sunny’s mother, son, and some of her friends were nearly always included in their “dates.” When they were in Temple or at the hunting lease for a weekend, Ralph’s friends and family were invariably present, day and night. Actually their courtship lasted long enough for Sunny to pick out her own friends and feel entirely at home even before moving  to Temple and settling in.

Once married  Sunny quickly changed her role from executive assistant to the president of a small company to that of supportive wife for the owner of a somewhat larger company.  Privately, she loved giving elegant dinners for his friends and business acquaintances. In fact, she became a legend in her own time for gracious hospitality. Other wives in town soon began to emulate her distinctive menus,  memorable decorations, and refreshing approach to entertaining others. She also traveled with him on his frequent business trips across the US, always easing any awkward situations and making friends with difficult people. 

 

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Bell County Junior Livestock Show 

Publicly, back in Temple, she devoted much time and attention to furthering his charitable goals by assisting local children. Ralph always had a soft spot in his heart for them. He never failed to support the high school band, the 4-H club, or the Future Farmers of America group whether they were from Temple or from one of the surrounding small towns. But his biggest soft spot was for The Boys Club in Temple. In fact he gave land near his plant and built a building for it before it officially became the Boys and Girls Club of Temple. He also left provisions and instructions for the club in his will to assure its longevity.

Neither Kaye nor her older brother had any idea whether Ralph’s will included them or not. But after their mother’s marriage, they both approached him privately to ask that he not leave anything to her children. Their desire was for  their mother to never worry about money again. Besides, they wanted to maintain friendly relationships with his children long after his death. All of Sunny’s children were both healthy and educated and strongly believed they could face whatever life threw their way.

Unfortunately, that will was probated much too soon. In 1972 Sunny became a widow for the second time in her life. 

After Ralph’s funeral, none of the family could count how many people had come forward to personally tell of ways that Ralph had helped them in time of need, like paying off unexpected medical bills, defraying the cost of car repairs, or even liquidating obligations to a local loan shark.  When any of them came back to repay him, he always refused. Nearly all of these stories were news to the family because he had never mentioned any of these financial adventures. Sometimes the person had asked for help. Sometimes Ralph realized they were in trouble and offered to help on his own. 

Once again, after the funeral and the company had cleared out, Sunny faced life without a husband, but with many happy memories. Fortunately this time, neither children nor finances were a big problem. She bravely started out again on a new path of additional civic, church, and charitable work. For the first time ever, she joined women’s clubs, finding several in Temple that appealed to her interests.  She still entertained a lot. She took each of her grandchildren, one at a time, to Europe with a local tour group. With the blessing of energy and good health, she lived comfortably alone for another forty years.

But finally the time came to close up shop. So she moved all the way to Montana to live with her youngest child, fulfilling the long-standing Southern custom of the youngest taking care of the elderly parent(s). And there she started another new life, this time coping with the vagaries of old age: loss of vision, mobility, and impaired hearing. But she is cheerful, polite, and eager to compliment others, just like she’s always been. She still faces life like a determined sheep herder from the Llano Estacado. 

Copyright 2018 by Kaye Fairweather 

 

This Is A Beautiful Woman: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/1877

This Is A Beautiful Woman, II: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/1882

This Is A Beautiful Woman, III: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/1893

This Is A Beautiful Woman, IV: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/1907

This Is A Beautiful Woman, V: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/2025

This Is A Beautiful Woman, VI: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/2039

This Is A Beautiful Woman,  VII: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/2046

This Is A Beautiful Woman, VIII: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/2090

This Is A Beautiful Woman, IX: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/2146

Beauty Enthralls The Observer

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Photograph by Lucas Kloeppel, courtesy of Pexels

“Have you ever been so struck by the beauty of a sunset that just for a moment you lose all sense of time? Everything else just fades away and just for that instant, the only thing that mattered to you in the entire world, was that sunset. It was a moment that transcended the mere passing of seconds. You may even have felt something you could only describe as homesickness.”

Deacon Lawrence Klimecki: “Beauty Is Transcendent” at

https://www.thewayofbeauty.org/blog/2018/5/beauty-is-transcendent

 

Learning from Beauty

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Photograph courtesy of Pexels

“There is objective beauty in the world. It can tell us about God, and it can tell us much about ourselves and our place in creation.”

 

Deacon Lawrence Klimecki: “Beauty Is Transcendent” at

https://www.thewayofbeauty.org/blog/2018/5/beauty-is-transcendent