Submitted by Ruthann Clayton

Wisdom and discernment, lost arts of ages past.

I say to my daughter, ‘ Be more concerned about your inner character than your outer beauty. My own mother said this once to me, and I never forgot. It was wisdom. What a sharp turn we have taken as a world so preoccupied with the outward appearance, that we have forgotten that the packaging is not the package, the wrapping is not the gift. At least, that I feel is true in the west. I was fortunate enough to travel and tour rural south africa where this clarity and contrast struck me the most. No where had I ever seen poverty and wealth coexist to such an extreme. And while sharing a meal in a poverty stricken village I saw not only riches in their loss, but beauty surpassing the wealth of neighbours. I also saw those in poverty bitter and drug addicted. It levelled in my mind the chasm between classes and reminded me once again, you can dress up a donkey, but a donkey is still a donkey.

Rich or poor, by material standards, is not really the measure of anyone’s character. It is the character that reveals the truth of who we are. The dressings can hide, distort, and enhance the true nature of a person. No matter what you have, what you wear, where you work, or who your friends are, you can be rich or poor, or a measure of both. Take care with what you have to share it wisely and you will see the alchemy of goodness increase. A character is transformed by the choices we make to lay down one’s life, then you will find it. This is not to be confused with being a doormat. Sometimes it means courageously standing for justice.

Sometimes it means loosing a relationship, a home, a family. At times it means being silent. The bottom line is love. Love builds character, and wisdom and discernment lead the way. We will get it wrong sometimes, and that is ok. We are out their trying, unashamed, making mistakes, making progress, learning , getting wiser, becoming a true beauty, through the trials of life. When the outer beauty fades, that is when we finally become our most beautiful ever. When a sister who has been abandoned by her sibling yet offers her blood to to her because she has leukemia , when a husband and wife travel half way round the world to adopt 12 year old children, when a friend who has lost a child offers to counsel yours for free, when a community rally’s together to feed the homeless….this is the stuff of true beauty. It is the stuff of God.