I have been invited by Art Embraces Words to do a virtual reading this month (August) of a chapter from my latest (2020) novel, Bishop Myriel: In His Own Words. A firm date has not been set, but I will keep my readers informed through all my online social media sources.
Below, is that same first chapter. Enjoy this "sneak preview."
The Beauty of Goodness
[Myriel’s sister, Baptistine]
had never been pretty; her whole life, which had been a succession of pious
works, had produced upon her a kind of transparent whiteness, and in growing
old she had acquired what may be called the beauty of goodness.
Book the First, Chapter I, M. Myriel: An Upright Man
I am compelled by grace to
explore a phenomenon I have observed with awe over the course of my lifetime.
We Frenchmen are obsessed with beauty. The ancient Greeks were as appearance-consumed
as upper class culture is today. Yet, they had the insight to peg the root of
beauty to the word, ὥρα (in Koine, their common
dialect). It meant “being one’s hour,” an interesting linkage to be sure.
Beauty, then, knows “what time it is” or better perhaps “knowing who I am and
who I am not.” My personal mandate as a human, then, is to know my true
relationship with every person I encounter, at each stage of my journey and all
the individual days that comprise that journey.
I offer my dear sister
Baptistine as a model of virtuous living. The call to recognize the “beauty of
goodness,” however, applies not only to those having a lifelong resume of
virtue. I have witnessed beauty’s goodness at life’s earliest stages. A toddler
knows no other way of being than “in the moment,” even as the child grows and
changes from week to week. A mother holding her child in her arms, searches
beyond that moment for hints of the emerging man or woman in their maturity. I
suspect that, within every parent there resides an unspoken awareness that they
may not live to see their children fulfill their God-given destiny.
witnessed the beauty of goodness in teenage years, when it easily suffers
displacement along the meandering path to maturity. I pay attention when I hear
of any child, teenager, or young adult taken too soon by illness or tragedy.
Also, when I hear of young soldiers sacrificing their precious lives on the
desecrated altars of their elders’ self-serving wars. Parents and friends
remark, “He was such a fine young man, always ready to assist someone,” or “He was too good for this
world.” My heart cries, “No! The
world needs such young, idealistic men
to stay alive, to make their mark upon our shattered society!” Some of us live
our way into beauty. Others suffer their way to it. I think of patients I have
known in our neighboring hospital whose clear eyes glow with inner light.
The beauty of goodness is like
that hidden treasure Jesus spoke of in Matthew 13:44:
"The kingdom of heaven is like a
treasure, hidden in a field. The one who finds it, buries it again; and so
happy is he, that he goes and sells everything he has, in order to buy that field."
When I discover goodness, be it
for a moment or longer, I rejoice in its native beauty and bask in its bright
light. So inspired, I take quill pen in hand. I lay no claim, on earth or before God, to poetic aptitude. At
those times when I hear the call—I should say “challenge”—of the muse, I dare
to express my heart in the fewest possible syllables. In doing so, I take
comfort in knowing that no other eyes will see—and, God forbid, judge--my
The Beauty of Goodness
i see goodness
in a mother’s smile
a helping hand
a loving heart
i find goodness
in a kind word
a silent shrine
chancing upon the
beauty of goodness
i catch my breath
stand in awe