Yes, we want our children to “look” good. We parade their good grades. We dress them nicely. We want them to look as pretty or as handsome as they can be.
“Looks” can be nice. Yes, they can. Yet there is more, so much more, that we can teach our children to see. We must teach them to look beyond all that “looks good.” We must teach them to look past the superficial. We must teach them to look “within” for beauty, too. (Because sometimes, if we only look skin deep, beauty can be hard to find.)
As a child, I was terrified of the Wicked Witch of the West. Mortified. Stone cold dead in my tracks horrified. Every time her green face appeared on the TV screen, it was as if she was coming for me.
My mother loved the “Wizard of Oz,” so I got to see the movie several times as a child. The first time I saw it, I was frozen with fear by the Wicked Witch (and her doppelganger on the bike, Almira Gulch).
However, my mother did a most wonderful thing. She taught me to look “inside” a person, not just on the outside. (Gosh, Mom could have written the Broadway musical “Wicked” years ahead of its time.)
Over the years, I hope I have done justice to my mother and her wonderful life lessons on finding the inner beauty of things and people. I will share a couple of such stories with the reader, who may decide for themselves.
Virtually all of us have worked with colleagues who appeared to be ugly. Indeed, I’ve had some fellow teachers become ugly toward me, simply because of my different-than-theirs teaching style and philosophy (both of which are very unconventional). These people (though, thankfully, not large in number) made my life at school feel like a stroll through Hades at times.
In return, I strived to “look past” their harsh exterior to find their inner beauty. Sometimes it was hard. But I always managed to do it somehow.
I found that these people simply had a different pair of glasses through which they viewed education. Once I understood what they saw, I not only forgave them, I grew to like them. They simply viewed their job through the lens of student test scores and by following all the rules of convention. I did none of that. I could never hold such a view and still be me, a teacher who foremostly promotes strong citizenship values, life lessons, open-minded creativity and higher-level thinking skills.
But thanks to my dear mother, I eventually learned to see deep into my colleagues who blatantly disregarded my teaching style to be not-so-good-as-theirs. I eventually saw past all that, to their inner beauty. I began to gain a clearer view of their equally zealous dedication to our mutual calling, however different on the surface their style and philosophy may have appeared than my own.
Martha was a church gossip. Few souls there must be in this world who create more pain and sorrow than a “wagging tongue church gossip.” Such people hide behind religion and throw condemnation at all who don’t see life through their lens.
I personally saw Martha destroy several people over the years with her forked tongue. She might as well have wielded a cannon, for all the damage she did. I found her very hard to like. But when I visited Martha one Christmas Eve (just as a friendly visit to a lonely old lady) I found out a lot about her. And that “lot” made me understand, at least a little. For at least a moment, I saw past her gossipy exterior to all the pain and sorrow she held inside. I listened to her and let her unleash some of that pain and sorrow. I saw that behind that poisonous tongue hid the spirit of a sweet little girl, long ago unspeakably harmed by the hands of men. I saw her inner beauty. And I wept with her.
By the way, the actress who played the timeless part of the Wicked Witch in the “Wizard of Oz” was a former school teacher. Margaret Hamilton possessed true inner beauty, too.
Perhaps we can find inner beauty in all who come our way in this life, if we choose to look for it. By doing so, we teach our children well to do the same.
Powered by WPeMatico