Saturday, 7 March 2009

Beauty Full

... An internet friend I knew years ago, who has Native American blood, used to sign his emails Walk in Beauty. I got so used to seeing it that I never thought about it, except it sounded pretty… walking in beauty. I posted a Navajo prayer on my blog a long time back which deals with walking in beauty. There are many different variations of these prayers online I’ve become even more fond of another version in recent times. (I’ve posted that one here below this) What I didn’t know, until very recently, was the history and meaning beyond the Navajo use of the word beauty.

What is beauty? To many people it means something appealing to look at, something pretty or attractive. To others it means something breathtaking and emotionally stirring. I’ve always belonged in the latter camp. I remember commenting when I was much younger about death being beautiful and receiving a few odd looks. I suppose I did sound rather bizarre and morbid, but I had no words then to express what I actually meant – that an eagle diving to grab its prey is terrible beauty, just as there was the day my grandfather kissed my hand and we said goodbye without saying a word. He died the next day, as I knew he would. It was the first time I knew a death before it happened. I ran from it and from him, unable to cope with that burden of knowing, but still so aware of the beauty that had passed between us in that second I’d looked into his eyes and known he was saying goodbye.

Maybe it came from my time in a convent school, with all that emphasis on suffering. Perhaps it’s also because my mom always told me, when I was little, that what a person was inside was more important than what they looked like. Whatever the case I’ve always thought there is an incredible beauty in the spirit of people conquering life’s hardship with courage and grace.

I don’t care what you look like, show me your soul and then I’ll be impressed by your beauty!

But what does beauty mean to the Navajo? What does it really mean to Walk in Beauty?

I went wandering internet pathways this week and discovered that there is no direct translation for the original Navajo word that is used to describe the Navajo ceremony of the Beauty Way. The closest English has is “beauty”, but it is a simple word for a vast concept. To the Navajo, as far as I’ve found, beauty is balance and harmony in every sense. It is the balance of healthy body and a peaceful mind. It is the harmony of wo/man living at one with Nature and everything you can think of related to a perfectly balanced body-mind-spirit. There are websites online discussing how the prayers to walk in beauty were used to help returning soldiers come to terms with the horror of war and learn to be balanced in normal life once again. These prayers are also directly linked to health and healing.

To walk in beauty… nothing to do with what you look like, but everything to do with who you are – integrity and honesty at the very soul level; keeping your self balanced and in balance with the world around you. To be beauty full (as my friend Penny puts it) rather than beautiful. It’s quite a daunting path to walk, but what’s the point of life without some challenges?

I think I might give this one a try…

...want to walk with me? :-)



  1. Wonderful post, Michelle. What a fantastic photo. I love all those trees standing so tall there.

  2. I think that one of the gifts we get, like a consolation prize, for growing older and losing our youthful beauty is the ability to see true beauty, not the skin-deep kind that tells you nothing about the person under it.

    The world is a much more beautiful place to me now than it was when I was a teen. I am grateful for my new eyes.

  3. Thanks Daisy.
    Aren't those trees amazing? They're down the road from us and so tall I couldn't get the tops of the closest ones into that photo.

    I think the gift we get from groeing older is fading eyesight so we look in the mirror and think, "WOW, not one wrinkle or grey hair!" Then humans invented glasses and messed everything up... ;-)

  4. I sure do want to walk with you! :-D
    And this post is beautyfull!!! ;-D

    Just the other day I was talking to a friend about our mutual best friend who is suffering from many things and we can't believe she can still feel joy in that situation and she doesn't complain. She's actually become a blessing that she doesn't even realize.

    In a way, when I want to complain about something, I think of this friend's sufferings and how she embrace it and can still feel God's love for makes me feel embarrassed...thus I stop myself from even thinking of complaining about something. If she, in her troubles, can find things to be joyful about, then I should be able to find more things to be joyful about. :-))))

  5. There is that Michelle! That's why I bought a 10X mirror so I could check for any scary hairs on my face I'd not have noticed otherwise! Put one on hubby's mirror too, really made him mad. He likes the way he looks much better without knowing the truth.

  6. I like these thoughts.

    I've been thinking of beauty recently. To me, pursuit and celebration of beauty (or art) is a prayer of gratitude to the universe: to the Amish, I believe it is seen as ego and a distraction from god. These are radically different truths.

  7. I want to be beauty full too! thanks for reminding us life is more than looking beautiful.

  8. Michelle, my friend, your life is made up of finding the beauty in all you see. I have lost a bit of that. I need to find it again. Thank you for this post :)

  9. You said, "There are many different variations of these prayers online I’ve become even more fond of another version in recent times. (I’ve posted that one here below this)"

    Where is the other version?

  10. Amel
    I hope things get better for your friend.


    I feel a bit sorry for the Amish and definitely agree more with you.

    You are definitely both. :-)

    Oh, I do too, which is why I figured I needed to post this - for myself as well as for any readers. The other prayer's here...

  11. Great post and a beautiful photograph. Thanks for your comment on my blog.

  12. What a different place the world would be if more people considered "walking in beauty". Thank you for giving us this to reflect upon.

  13. I agree with your thoughts on beauty - I was going to suggest "peace" but your word harmony is a better fit.

    That picture alone makes me say "OH"! Yes I'll walk with you. Being beauty-full is something I need to work on.

  14. Carver
    Thank you. I took that photo on one of those perfect magical days.

    Hi Kerry
    it would be an amazing world indeed!

    Hi Terry :-)
    Yeah, I think to be beauty-full needs constant awareness - something I am not good at and need to work on myself.

  15. I'm walking right beside you Michelle! :-)

  16. Thanks Jacques

    And an extra big thank you for the very nice things you said about me and my writing on the blog interview. :-)))



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