Updated: May 16, 2020
aIt’s been said that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” I don’t think this means that everything is subjective and open to interpretation. Instead, I think that beauty is actually all around us; we just have to open our eyes – and our hearts – to see it. Sometimes it’s harder to find than others. Sometimes we only see what we’ve been taught to see. Sometimes we have to remove the filters that obscure our perspective. Once we do, we might find beauty where we least expect it.
A few months ago, I wrote about the beauty that I see in my neighborhood. It’s a beauty that those from outside our community often miss. When I shared that post, it really struck a chord with a lot of my neighbors in a way that I didn’t expect. I think it resonated with so many because there is power in having someone affirm the good that you know to be true when the stories that are most often told only present the negative side or misrepresentations. There is power in knowing that someone else sees the beauty that you see, that someone else understands that there is more going on than what has been portrayed.
You see, I live in a low-income, primarily Latino neighborhood that consists of families of mixed immigration statuses. You don’t have to search the headlines too hard to encounter the narrative that’s being written about immigrants right now. There is a picture that has been painted that portrays immigrants – especially those who are undocumented – as a burden or even dangerous. But if you allow this filter to cloud your judgment, you will miss out on so much beauty.
There is a different story to tell, and I wanted to give my neighbors an opportunity to tell that story about the community we live in. Inspired by Maria Sheahan from
Global Immersion (because I want to be like her when I grow up), I wrote out the simple question, “What do you love about our neighborhood?” on a poster board and hung it up on the hedges in front of my apartment. I left blank note cards, markers, and clothes pins for my neighbors passing by to share their thoughts. I loved watching the cards multiply each day and reading about the beauty that my neighbors see around us. I loved that my neighbors were telling a different story about our community.
This is some of the beauty that my neighbors see…
"Very peaceful, very beautiful"
"That it's very safe and the neighbors are very nice!!!" :)
"That the babysitters take care of us"
"I love our neighborhood because it is so colorful."
I think this is unique to Latino neighborhoods, but we have several trucks stationed around our neighborhood that sell snacks, produce, toilet paper, soap, and just about anything you might need in a hurry.
This one might be my favorite. :)
This one is my actual favorite.
This neighborhood is home to so many, and it has shaped those who live here. This is a community that supports one another, that takes care of each other, and that gives when there is need. This is a community where hospitality, resourcefulness, and generosity reside. This is a neighborhood that is full of life, hope, and love. There is so much beauty here.
I want to challenge you to look for the beauty around you. Look past what you’ve been taught to see. Remove the filters that obscure your perspective. You might be surprised to find beauty where you least expect it.