“Love built on beauty, soon as beauty, dies.”

— John Donne

It happened again yesterday, as it does from time to time.  I walked past a full-length mirror and caught a glimpse of myself at the start of my seventh decade.  ‘How did that happen?’ I thought as I surveyed the lumps and bumps and sags and bulges that now adorn my body,’ ‘and where is that porcelain complexion that I took for granted fifty years ago?’  I suppose it’s the curse that comes along with not seeing people based on their external appearance.  I suppose it would be to my benefit to face the mirror a bit more often and make a bit of an effort not to offend the eyes of others who must gaze on my beauty.

I look back to the days when I lived in a body that was untouched by all those years of living.  My muscles were taut, my skin fit them perfectly, my hair flowed blonde and shining in the sunlight.  My clothes were much smaller back then; and I must say that I was confident that I met the standards of acceptable appearance.  It never occurred to me at the time that such things might get in the way of finding lasting love; but I can see now that great outer beauty might present such a distraction that it would be difficult to allow our true beauty to outshine it.

We live in a culture where the emphasis is always on youth and beauty.  Women my age who bear the sags and wrinkles of having lived many years, are encouraged to cover their appearance with makeup and plastic surgery.  We are told to remake ourselves in a youthful image so that we can continue to be accepted as worthwhile members of society.

I face the mirror once again.  I see the apron of skin that sags below my waistline and find myself filled with memories of the babies who inhabited my womb and stretched my skin to accommodate their growth before they burst into the world.  I see the not so perky breasts that fed those babies and no longer are full as they were in those days.  I see the lines in my face, indelibly etched by laughter and smiles and then carved deeper by tears of loss.

I have lived a beautiful life; and now that I am unburdened of wearing my beauty only on the surface, I spend most of my days exploring its depths and boring tunnels to bring it to the surface.  When the deep beauty of the soul no longer is masked by the transient beauty of the body, its light shines with such a radiance that there is no need to mourn the loss of our youth.

Let your beauty shine.  Shed the skin that hides it and release your burden.  Build your love on that which cannot die.