Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast
The trailer for Disney’s live action version of Beauty and the Beast was released on my birthday this year. I accepted this divine gift as clearly from the heavens and giddily texted my mom about the new video to watch on Youtube. It was only about a minute long while foreshadowing the familiar symphonic music and dark, mysterious castle, but it was enough to bring cascading memories back around my favorite fairy tell growing up.
Beauty and the Beast was hands down my favorite Disney movie as a child. I think it had to do with the mixture of the music, the enchantment of the castle characters and the personality of Belle herself. As someone who was always more quiet, reserved and introverted as a child, I could relate to someone who would rather have her nose in a book or dictionary than gush over the popular town hunk. Sometimes those of us who reject what the Gastons of the world are offering feel lonely and misunderstood, so stories like this inspire us to keep searching for that inner treasure.
I recently had a conversation with a friend about the deeper meaning of fairytales and a couple of spiritual books that I have been reading which brought up the theme, so I thought it was worth exploring.
As I got to thinking about this fairytale again, I was struck with how I felt I could relate more to Beast in this story at this point in my life. It would be nice to think mostly of myself as the beautiful heroine who saves her father and redeems a prince and a kingdom. But that is not the situation I find myself in. As I move away from dualistic thinking, it’s easier to see myself in all characters or parts of a story.
As some point in life, we all find ourselves where due to illness or loss, we don’t recognize ourselves in the mirror anymore. We’ve been transformed into something that feels ugly like the Beast. It feels like the old you has died because usually that’s what is happening—death of the ego. Maybe you can relate to the feeling of going from a feeling of royalty to losing everything.
I am currently reading Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward which describes the phenomenon of the two halves of our lives. The first half of life is spent creating social and religious order, establishing healthy boundaries and acquiring a few accomplishments to serve our ego. Then, the second half of our life is ushered in where we really lean into the experience of “being” vs. “doing”.
I should state that this second half is not usually welcomed. Something greater than ourselves such as pain, suffering, death or loss of any kind ushers in a spiritual transformation that forces us into a different state of living. One which is usually more grace filled and in complete union with God and others.
I’m not sure during this transformation into your True Self is initiated by self or by God. The mystics have learned that the illusion of separation is all that keeps us from experiencing the divine union at anytime, so does it really matter who initiated it? When you are in the midst of any kind of suffering or wrestling with God, it’s all one entangled mess of confusion and frustration anyway.
As I continue to enter this mystical wonder that is called being human and transition to this next phase of life, I see the graciousness of God in Belle and the feminine aspects of the divine. It is no surprise that her name means beauty? Who else but God could see past the flaws, failures and ugliness and still say deem us worthy of love? Who else can remind us of the royalty that we are worthy of and have forgotten to see and claim for ourselves? Who else comes to the rescue when our magic rose has but dropped its last petal?
It’s the mercy and compassion of the divine that sweeps in when we feel like our hope has run out and that we have ruined our lives and any chance for a happy ending. That’s when she unexpectedly and tenderly drops by and compels us to put down all the hurt and bitterness and walls and teaches us how to find the LOVE inside again.
It’s the reminder to believe this is not the end of the story, that darkness has not won the day. The magic spell will indeed be lifted and the light of day will shine again. We will be made new again and beauty will come forth from the ashes.
That my friends is Beauty, and we are the Beast she has always been seeking.