Friday, December 28, 2007


"Beauty is powerful. It may be the most powerful thing on earth. It is dangerous because it matters… Beauty is too vital to lose… Beauty is the essence of God. The whole world is full of His glory." –John Eldredge

I am learning to redefine beauty in my own life. I say this as I tongue the outside of my upper lip and taste raw, burning flesh from the waxing incident I had about an hour ago. I'm learning that beauty is more than my now hairless, wonderful upper lip. My brother comes into the bathroom and finds me staring in the mirror at my raw, hairless lip. He begins to shave and sings to me… "Megg you are beautiful… no matter what they say". I think out loud, "No matter what who says? What did they say?" We laugh.

I'm learning about beauty and what it's not. As I work on these distinguishments I start to notice what it is. I find the magic of God and his love in the indulgence's of great books by the Christmas tree and cups of tea by the fire while me and my dad watch football on mute. He hates the slanted commentary. I'm becoming enthralled in the most random "beauty" in people and places and things that are otherwise overlooked and ordinary.

I had a real beautiful experience last night. I would love to get into detailed description of the interaction I had with a man named John. John is the owner of this wonderful little Italian restaurant my parents go to often. The restaurant is just around the corner from our house. I love it. They have the best, cheesiest lasagna. I think we will go there for lunch tomorrow.

John is from Afghanistan. He is a short, 50 something year old, brown skinned man with shiny, crooked teeth and a gray moustache and beard. He speaks eloquently and softly but at the same time directly and passionately as if Manicotti were an art and meat sauce was a just cause. He stands there looking endearingly into the faces of my over indulged parents, grandmother and myself and we talk about Christmas, the farmers market and berries in Afghanistan that you would never find in the states. He uses his hands to describe the color and texture of these said mystery berries and then tells us all about the 72 kinds of grapes his country once knew. The beauty he is describing to us about these alleged berries remind me of another quote by Eldredge: "Nature is not primarily functional but primarily beautiful."

According to John, there is so many good grapes to choose from that Afghanistan has manifested the best wine… globally. Some grapes are so sensitive to… I think… the world, and humans… that you have to stand there and eat them right off the vine or apparently they disintegrate into thin air… or maybe it was that they melt in your hand or smush in your pocket. Nevertheless, the Afghan people can no longer familiarize themselves with these said 72 types of grapes or mystery berries because of war and politics and poverty and apparently laser beams from government forces that have wiped out the beauty of the Afghan agriculture. Who knows how many more generations will pass before they cultivate 72 more strands of grape crops? John celebrates Thanksgiving but not Christmas. He also celebrates Easter and I cannot figure out why.

He says these American holidays are a wonderful excuse for his friends and family to get together and eat a lot of good food. "Have you ever seen a melon THIS big?" He asks us stupid Americans who know nothing of the beauty of Afghan agriculture. Then he starts to talk about Russia and somehow its connection to the demise of their economy. He tells my mom to go to some grand festival of something in Turkey where she can get anything from coal to diamonds. It's completely relevant because Mom is going to Istanbul on business next week. Apparently the Turkish GAP needs international attention?

John was a pleasure to listen to. I felt cultured and blessed because I know I have friends in, let's just say for kicks, Lancaster, PA who will never sit in an Italian restaurant run by an Afghan man and talk melons and laser beams with him over Manicotti and the meat sauce revolution. I love my life and I love these odd interactions that just happen. I wanted to take notes on everything he said because it was so engaging to see him so pleased with the memory of his home and the opportunity to share it with his American customers. I love how Mom and Dad can pick up conversations with almost anyone about almost anything and it's almost always an incredibly interesting experience. I thought of Anne Lamott and her index cards that she carries around in her pocket for times like these. Then I thought of how ridiculous I would look if I stopped him right in the middle of the 72 grapes schpeel to fetch my card and pen and ask him to please go back the part about the disintegrating grape harvest. It was very "beautiful".

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