It was the summer of 2010 and I sitting on a plane bound for the Middle East thinking “This is crazy!” I was nervous and I watched while the women on the plane started to put on burquas and veils as they neared their home country. I started to get anxious. Why did I quit my job to come to a foreign country and meet women I didn’t know, build a friendships and teach them English? My curiosity had gotten the best of me. I was tired of watching the news about extremist Muslims that wanted to blow me and my family up. I didn’t know much about Muslims, but I wanted to. I wanted to get to know women that lived quietly beneath the black veil. I wanted to know about the mysterious culture. Common sense told me that not every Muslim was secretly thinking of ways to kill me. All I see on the news are male terrorists, male politicians and male soldiers…The other thought that plagued me was “Where are the women?” I was on an adventure that would cause my perspective of the world to explode. I’m a tall, blonde haired, blue eyed Model from New York City. I’m not a Muslim, but I am a woman. I don’t claim to be a Theologian or an expert on the Middle East, but I want to share some woman’s stories and perspective and bring awareness gained through my studying and traveling to those who also may wonder “Who is the quiet woman behind the veil?” In the U.S. I didn’t know many Muslim women and in the Subways of New York occasionally I would see a women in a veil out with her husband and children. I was intimidated now sitting on the plane lost in my thoughts and anxieties, but it was too late to turn back. I pulled my pink scarf up to cover my golden hair and took a deep breath as I clutched my passport with white knuckles and we neared the ancient land where the history is so intensely rich and deep…
Theology is the study of God and God’s relation to the world. Seems to me so many of us never have realized how much it has to say about beauty, because we’ve been so focused on trying to keep the laws and feeling guilty for what we have or haven’t done. The older I get and the more I study faith in the Bible the more delighted I am with hope and an explanation for beauty and our endless search for it. According to Anthony Ciorra in his personal study of beauty: “All of theology is a search for beauty and its written word attempts to capture the experience of beauty.” The book itself tells an epic story that starts in Genesis with the Garden of the East, or better known the Garden of Eden. The end of the book brings the end of the world as we know it now, but a moment when heaven is brought to earth and like the magical land of Narnia, the everlasting winter gradually turns to spring and everything comes back to life in a sweeping grandeur.
This is a moment for those who long to see the grandeur and beauty of life in the simple, most unexpected ways and places. Ciorra describes the hope of beauty: “Beauty anchors the human person in the transcendent in an evolving world and shifting cultures.” It’s time to see beauty through a deeper, wider lens than the figure and form of the current supermodels. Myself and many other women around me are exhausted and tired in the search for beauty. It seems to elude us. When do we arrive? When does the moment happen when we achieve real beauty? The more we search the more it flutters away like a butterfly we are trying to catch. There is so much more to rediscovering the heart of the woman and the only answers I’ve been able to find are buried in the wonder and mysterious nature of God himself.
I don’t have all the answers to the questions on the topic, but the beauty of continuing to search for them is the greatest hope I have ever known.
“The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing to find the place where all the beauty came from.” -C.S. Lewis “Til We have Faces”