My heart was snagged this morning by a meme I saw on Instagram. I shared it on Facebook. And that might have been the end of my connection to the sentiment expressed. But it was not. As often happens when something gets my attention, throughout the day I kept returning to the meme and mentally I turned the thought over and over, examining it.
One of the definitions of the verb, muse, is to ponder and turn over in one’s mind. That’s exactly what I did. I mused today, about soul beauty.
I wasn’t sure what to do with my thoughts. They seemed tenuous and wispy, like clouds that haven’t quite formed and quickly dissipate. As the day progressed, the thoughts settled more into the region of my heart and shifted into feelings, without words. I stayed open…and curious…and unattached to an outcome.
It happened that this evening I accompanied my mom and sister to the theater to see the latest Beauty and the Beast movie. This was my second viewing and their first. I loved this enchanting film just as much tonight as I did on the opening weekend. (You can read my movie review HERE)
The music still stirs my heart and the story touches me at a deep level. My eyes fill with tears as Belle recognizes she doesn’t fit in with the other villagers. My spirit lifts with hers as she contemplates adventures in far away countries. And I smile, frequently, as Belle begins to see Beast differently.
I was perhaps halfway through the film when I suddenly sat up straighter. I had one of those aha moments. There was a connection between this morning’s meme that had so caught my attention…and this story. Of course…
At the core of Beauty and the Beast is the truth that outward appearances are sometimes misleading. Belle, whose very name means “beauty”, is beautiful because her inner light shines out through her outer appearance. She is good hearted, kind, curious, loving…and confident about who she is and what she wants.
The interesting contrast lies with two other characters in the story.
Gaston is the town hero, a strong, athletic man with a handsome appearance. He can be charming, when it suits his purposes. The whole town adores him, so much so that they sing songs about him in an idolizing fashion. Inside though, Gaston is not an attractive man. He is manipulative, self serving, uncaring and ruthless. He has learned how to get what he wants by way of his looks and there is no depth to him.
So different from Gaston is Beast. Once a spoiled and cruel young man, Beast has been cursed. His outer appearance becomes a reflection of his inner ugliness. He is monstrous, isolated and angry. He is doomed to stay that way, wearing his insides on the outside, unless he changes, opens his heart, and learns to love in an unconditional, sacrificial kind of way.
What I observed as I watched the movie was how the inner self was expressed outwardly more and more as each character journeyed. Belle remained beautiful. She sang about trading innocence for wisdom. However, the goodness in her compelled her to sacrifice herself for her father, stay to nurse Beast back to health when he was injured protecting her, and fight for what was right.
The darkness within Gaston came to the surface, twisting his handsome face, and destroying his relationships. He transitioned into the monster.
And Beast underwent the most change. Belle helped him to remember who he was as a young boy, before his mother died. He was willing to open his heart and let his true soulfulness shine forth, enabling him to see the world through fresh eyes and see himself differently as well. Beast began to transform, long before Belle’s love freed him from the curse. His soul beauty broke through, and he recognized it even before she did. That inner beauty allowed Beast to give Belle the freedom to walk away, even if it meant he would remain cursed.
I watched the remainder of the movie from a different point of awareness. What a beautiful story indeed. I thought back to the meme from this morning and realized I had invited this deeper exploration. I just didn’t know at that time that tonight’s movie would be the door of greater understanding I would pass through.
I know my own life journey has been about living from a whole heart, and allowing my soul the freedom to be. My desire is that my inner appearance and my outer appearance align, with a transparency that allows my light to shine brightly. I have no doubts that the Divine will continue to teach me and guide me and offer opportunities for reflection, even through memes and movies.
The meme, which is pictured below, reminds me of my travels. I was once sixteen. And next year, I will welcome sixty. My soul continues its work, creating beauty at a deep level.
How grateful I am for this soulful…and beautiful…journey.