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“He has made everything beautiful in its time”—Ecclesiastes 3:11




Maybe it’s fresh-cut flowers popping out from a vase, a loved one whose smile lights up a room, a classic work of art, or a park that you enjoy walking through. Beauty, by definition, is something that “pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit.” But beauty is not just superficial or “skin deep,” as the old saying goes. It is, in fact, much more. In times of sadness or confusion, seeking comfort in beauty can bring us closer to God.


Psalm 139:14 says, “I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful.” This Scripture verse reminds us that each of us is made in the image of God, and God makes good stuff! Our bodies, minds, and spirits are beautiful because they are created to be masterpieces of God’s love. By surrounding ourselves with true beauty (kind and caring people, an awe for God’s creation and nature, and loving relationships), we can better connect with God and the most divine parts of ourselves. And in doing so, we can add our own beauty to the world.


The Beauty of Hope

As Penny Becker closed out Hope Heals Camp’s annual talent show with a jazz dance, it was evident that she felt strong, capable, and beautiful. The audience roared with support for the young woman with Down syndrome, as they did for every camper who braved the stage. After all, this wasn’t a show of judgment; it was a chance for the campers to be celebrated and loved.


Hope Heals Camp is a “week-long retreat and year-round community that offers rest, resources, and relationships to families” with members who are physically disabled and/or dealing with intellectual or developmental challenges. The camp is run by Katherine and Jay Wolf, advocates for finding joy despite hardships.


In 2007, Katherine suffered a massive stroke that required “16-hour brain surgery, 40 days in the ICU, a year in neuro rehab, and 11 operations.” Though she continues to recover to this day, she and Jay were determined to face the future with hope and allow the beautiful aspects of life to coexist alongside the times of suffering. To help others facing disability, the Wolfs started an online community space by sharing their story of hope and healing. Eventually, the community grew into a physical place: Hope Heals Camp. Christopher Award-winning author Amy Julia Becker is the mother of the aforementioned camper, Penny. In describing the camp experience on her website, she called it “a space that lives out a message of belovedness and belonging.” Becker recalled volunteers giving out hugs during a church service, and a celebration in which campers danced using their wheelchairs. Adults sat together and cried about their stories of loss, as well as times of success and the realization that God is real.


At Hope Heals, nobody is alone or looked down on as “less than.” Instead, the camp’s beauty lives in its acts of love, which extend well beyond the campgrounds. Becker writes, “When we lift one another up, and when we allow God to lift us up, we all are exalted.”

The Beauty of Nature

Nancy Cupolo always wanted to become an author. A mother of two daughters and teacher by trade, she loved her time with her students and had tried to write children’s books in the past. But it wasn’t until her daughter, Lisa, took up painting after an injury left her homebound that Nancy was inspired to write a story that corresponded with her daughter’s art. Since turning to each other, and to God, the mother-daughter duo has published three children’s books, featuring all original art by Lisa. The proud mother likes to say, “God is guiding her brush and guiding my pen.” Lisa’s art—which focuses on nature scenes, animals, and the beauty found outdoors—goes with Nancy’s rhythmic storytelling. Their first book, A River’s Journey, conveys the beauty of a riverscape to readers. And all their works ask an important question, Nancy told The Evangelist, the newspaper for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York: “Will we leave a legacy of beauty or negativity behind us?”


The mother-daughter duo even inscribe their hope for their audience on the back of their books: that beauty, through their words and art, will be brought into a troubled world. During a local book signing, a little girl came up to Nancy for an autograph. Nancy asked the girl if she liked the pretty pictures in the story, but was surprised when she said she preferred the inscription on the back: that beauty could still be brought into a troubled world. Nancy turned to Lisa and said, “If we never make a penny on this book, we just made a million dollars with that.”

The Beauty of Family

In 2016, while she was out reporting on a major storm in San Diego, ABC 10 News reporter Marie Coronel suffered a broken neck when a tree fell on her. In addition, she miscarried her unborn child. At the time, Marie was a married wife and mother of two sons. She also helped her own mother care for her father, who suffered from progressive supranuclear palsy, a neurological disorder that causes serious problems with walking, balance, and eye movement.


Now, Marie herself was the one who needed care. It wasn’t easy to deal with, but as a Filipino-

American raised in a Catholic family, she relied on her faith to get her through. During an interview with The Christophers, Marie said she gained strength from watching the beauty of her mom’s selfless actions: “She had to take care of me who was bedbound, and then she had to take care of my dad who was bedbound. Yes, she did get frustrated, but she never gave up.

She had so much emphasis on her faith that she used that to get her through.”


Marie also found beauty and joy in her two sons and the love they showed both her father and her. “With my dad, he couldn’t physically play ball with [my sons],” she remembered, “but just sitting next to them, holding their hands, you could see the smile on his face.”


Seeing that inspired Marie to keep fighting. She eventually recovered, got pregnant again, and

gave birth to her third son, whom her father was able to meet before passing away in 2020. The family visits his grave weekly after Mass, and even though he is physically gone, Marie still turns to her dad for guidance when she needs help finding beauty in times of stress and pain.

The Beauty Around Us

One evening, when psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl was imprisoned in the

Auschwitz death camp, the horrors of life there took a brief pause. Frankl and his fellow prisoners were sitting on the floor of their hut when another man ran inside, calling for everyone to come out.


There, the men stood in silence, awed by a gorgeous sunset radiating before them. Even amidst

the darkness, a moment of beauty was found. Most of us do not find ourselves in circumstances

as grim as Frankl’s, but our minds, hearts, and souls can always benefit from noticing the beauty

around us. Psychology Today reports that one study found “a high appreciation of beauty helps people recover from anxiety and depression.” Another study showed that “people who experience awe in response to nature’s beauty have significantly lower levels of inflammation, reducing the risk of depression, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other illnesses.”


So how can we better appreciate beauty. The magazine suggests three options:

■ “Think of something beautiful you’ve experienced in nature that brought you a sense of awe…

Pause to re-experience that moment of beauty as you slowly breathe in and breathe out.”

■ “Think of something beautiful you’ve experienced in the arts…Pause to re-experience that

moment of beauty as you slowly breathe in and breathe out.”

■ “Finally, think of something beautiful you’ve experienced in moral action, in an act of kindness… Pause to re-experience that moment of beauty as you slowly breathe in and breathe out.” The beauties of this world are all around you, so make a conscious decision to look for them every day - and to be a source of beauty for others as well.

A Duty to Add Beauty

Singer-songwriter Sarah Hart has written and recorded thousands of songs for worship, for liturgy, and for Christian music stars such as Amy Grant and Matt Maher. Sarah relates most to St. Catherine of Siena who, at the age of seven, told her mother, “I see God in all things and all things in God.” During an interview with The Christophers, Sarah recalled, “I grew up in southeastern Ohio, and there were potlucks and people who gathered to sing and to pray, so I grew up a very free spirit in the Church.


My experience of faith as a child was that I was deeply loved and that there was freedom in faith and beauty in faith.” Regarding both her professional career and personal life, Sarah explained her philosophy: “All I really want to do is put beauty in the world…I feel like that’s what I’m built for…And that is how we all can help God…Whatever we choose to do in our lives, we can choose beauty and good and kindness and light and mercy. To do anything less, I think, is to do a disservice to the Lord.

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