Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Beauty of Personal Change

Cosmetic plastic surgery is apparently becoming increasingly popular. I've seen a few video clips recently on CNN and FOX NEWS related to the subject. Most of us may not be surprised that "the Stars" are trying to look younger or just change how they look, but Fox News reported that cosmetic surgery among teenagers, even high school students, is on the rise. People are seeking to change even the smallest details of their appearances. Self-obsession with regard to outward appearance isn't just a problem among women. A report on Fox News indicates that more men are seeking Botox treatments to improve their looks. (Where is authentic manhood?)

Our society nurtures unhealthy attitudes about the human body. So many people have a corrupted view of what they really look like. The problem is not the outward appearance, but the sickness of the soul. We don't see the world, including ourselves, with clear vision. Instead of seeking clear vision to see themselves as they really are, people are changing their outward appearance so that the outer appearance conforms to their warped, blurry vision of themselves. Why alter a healthy body instead of seeking to cure the soul?

Orthodox Christians recently commemorated Christ's healing of the blind man. We chanted the prayer, "Lighten, O Lord, my supersensuous eyes, made blind by the gloom of sin. Anoint them, O compassionate One, with humility; wash them with the tears of repentance." True beauty in all its richness and depth isn't seen only with the physical eyes of the senses (sight is one of the five senses), but with our "super-sensual eyes," also called the "spiritual eyes" or the "eyes of the soul." When we turn away from our own self-conscious and prideful self-centeredness toward the One who is the source of Beauty, Love, and Life , we can see ourselves and the world around us with new eyes, enlightened by divine light.

Some people might say, "Don't think you need to change yourself. Just be proud of who you are." I'm not saying that. We all should seek to change who we are, striving to become more beautiful, loving, and full of life. This requires looking deep into our own souls. The transformation of the whole person can't be achieved by a medical procedure that affect only the body (and maybe the self-esteem). Personal transformation is acheived through the spiritual therapy that transfigures the soul and opens the eyes of the heart to see everything as it really is. If we are willing to embrace humility instead of feeding our egos then we can begin to walk down the path that leads toward real beauty and the achievement of our full human potential.

Copyright © 2007 by Dana S. Kees. (A Classical Beauty (1909) by John William Godward is from the Art Renewal Center Museum. Used by permission.)