• Lisa Brooks


I was sitting in a friend’s apartment in New York City spending a little time reflecting on my travels. The previous day had been a glorious late winter day, and we took full advantage of it. It was sunny, chilly but not cold, and clear. We walked miles enjoying the city and the sunshine. Then, in the evening we headed out again. It was raining, and much colder. The rain quickly turned to snow, and quickly began to accumulate.

People would agree that yesterday was “beautiful” and many would say last night was “miserable”. I loved every minute of it. The light was spectacular at night...rain blurring, light reflecting, colors bouncing everywhere, the way the city sparkles in the rain; and then the fluffy white stillness and relative quiet of the snow. The streets emptied, foot and automobile traffic slowly disappeared, and the snowflakes hung on my jacket and my gloves. I think the snow is equally beautiful, just different.

So what is beauty? They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I’d say real beauty lies in perspective. The point of view, or the lens through which we view the world is ours to shape. We can choose to see beauty.

Don’t get me wrong though. For example, I HATE being cold. Hate it. But, if I wasn’t willing to be cold, I would miss the beauty of falling snow on a March evening in New York. I think the beauty is really in our ability to look past the surface, look past the discomfort, to find beauty.

Is it any different when we confront a person who is homeless? We might see someone who is dirty, scary, threatening, less than ourselves. But, a homeless person is still a person who has a soul. I believe we are all interconnected in the universe. It is not my job to judge, but rather to connect. If we can all shift our perspective just a bit, it can be as simple as the words we use.

Person first language...a person who is homeless, a person who struggles with mental illness, a person who uses a wheelchair, a person who is experiencing or lifting with depression, diabetes, repeated hospitalizations, addiction, Crohn’s disease...Person first language gives humanity to others, and maybe, just maybe others won’t be so fast to judge.

Meditation is an amazing thing. I was doing a group meditation a couple of weeks ago. The group leader suddenly said, “Stop. What’s the first word that comes to your mind to describe yourself?” This isn’t as startling as it would seem. Going in to the exercise, we all knew she was going to do this, and we also knew this was a writing meditation. What was tremendously startling to me was my response. I wrote “Beautiful.” I am beautiful.

I’m a little embarrassed to say that my initial reaction to that was, “NO! I’m not beautiful.” But wait a minute, if I can extend grace to others, why not to myself? I am beautiful. Everyone is beautiful. Everything is beautiful. It’s just a matter of point of view.

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