There are few moments in life when we confront our own failings head on. Good books cause us to do that and so, this week, did a short clip on You Tube. I’m sure many of us watched Susan Boyle’s triumphant audition on Britain’s Got Talent. It was a moment when a plain, middle aged, chubby spinster stood on stage and gave a riveting singing performance that wowed judges and audience alike. It was not the performance that we should take note of, as much as why it shocked us. To put it plainly, society judges the worth of an individual by what is written on the outside. It’s true, no? Oh we make exceptions for the extremely wealthy and powerful, but sad to say lovely people are valued and assumed to have more worth and talent than extremely plain ones.
How could we have gotten to this place? The Beatitudes give us a list of blessings and not one refers to external appearance, yet on this planet the people we idolize are the stars and actors who give us a beautiful figure and face to adore. That is why the Susan Boyle video was so stunning, because it took us to task for our attitudes, for our assumptions that a homely figure has no blessings to offer. Susan Boyle made us look inside ourselves.
As I mentioned earlier, good books do this, don’t they? They are the kind of books that stay in your mind long after the last page is turned. Often they are literary in nature (The Five People You Meet in Heaven, The Life of Pi, The Secret Life of Bees) but occasionally a romance will surprise you by painting a picture of a person so complex, so revealing of both their ugliness and spiritual beauty that you can’t get the book out of your mind. An example? The book Mrs. Mike, written by Benedict and Nancy Freedman in 1947. Do you have any favorite books that stay in your mind and soul?