It still amazes me the conversations I get to have and with whom I get to have them. These exceptional, loving people appear in my life at the exact time I need them. I must call out for them, I think, in some midnight prayer. I must.

And the other day it was in a coffee shop. Two women talking. My back was to them, but I only needed to hear their words. Words were enough.

“I don’t know about ratios or anything mathematical, but it seems to me that beauty outweighs evil a million-trillion to one. I’d like to say evil gets a zero, but few would believe me,” said the first woman. “The trouble is that beauty hides. We think it’s in a perfectly-shaped ass, an expensive pair of boots, or even a newborn baby. I say it’s harder to see than all that. I think beauty lies in the crevices, the honest moments, the words unsaid,” she paused, took a sip of her coffee. “We have to search for beauty -scratch that- we have to choose beauty. We have to be willing to be wrong about what we think beauty is.”

The second woman spoke now, her voice soft and assured. “You know when I feel most beautiful? In that fleeting, light nanosecond when I realize that my boyfriend has merely listened and has not judged. I’ve just spilled my guts to another human being and he just sits there with love in his eyes, hands reaching out to brush my hair back onto my shoulders. These moments are filled with the unconditional love we buy cards about. They are whole and compassionate and true. I know it.”

Whoa. Yes, I thought to myself. Yes!

The first woman’s voice shook a little as she spoke this time. “You’re so right. You are. And sometimes I even think it’s all the same…that pain -all pain- is the same.”

Was she crying? She seemed upset. I already felt like I was invading their private moment. I couldn’t very well turn and look at them now.

“I’ll be that safe space for you,” said the second woman, her voice dripping with compassion.  “Beauty lives there: that imaginary space between us…that line we fear to cross, that’s where beauty is. You’ll feel it and you’ll breathe through it and know that, just like you said, beauty outweighs evil a million-trillion to one. And you are loved despite what you tell yourself. You are safe, despite what you tell yourself. You are beautiful, despite what you tell yourself.”

I grabbed my iPod from my purse and said a silent prayer of thanks. Just that morning I had been getting dressed and thinking that beauty was so much more than appearances. Beauty, it seemed to me, was just like love…the same as love. It looked as though I wasn’t alone in this. I put my headphones over my ears and pressed play. I had heard enough.


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