What Keeps Us From Seeing the Beauty in Others?

by Mark Votava


As I have lived as a part of the Tacoma Catholic Worker now for four years I am beginning to have a different imagination for community, relationships, social justice, neighborliness, hospitality and compassion.  It is hard to see Christ in others in the midst of a pretty violent culture where individualism, competition, consumerism and independence is praised.  God is teaching me not to complain so much about the world I live in and learn to love it instead.  As Dorothy Day likes to say love is a harsh and dreadful thing.

I have spent many years complaining and being angry, but things are changing in me as I am learning to forgive and love.  The world is not bothering me so much as I have experienced God revealing to me beauty, mystery, goodness in all kinds of ordinary ways in everyday life.  The ordinary has become sacred to me.  The small things have been revelations of God’s love and compassion.

Learning to walk in the dark where confusion, pain, insecurity and even depression at times have guided me to a more abundant life of seeing Christ in others.  This imagination to see Christ in others is what I have been called to.  People are beautiful in spite of their brokenness.  The world is beautiful in spite of all the injustice that goes on around us.

So complaining about all the stuff I do not like will not be helpful.  Over time it will really hinder my flourishing as a human being in this world.  I want to be free to dance and live a life of peace.  I want to find joy in the dark seasons of life where it is hard to make sense of what I am experiencing.

Finding the love within myself to see Christ in others is such a powerful practice for me.  This is the journey of being the change I want to see in the world.  There is nothing more difficult and beautiful than this.

  •  Having the imagination to see Christ in others

Loving others by seeing the value and mystery in and through them is about having the imagination to see Christ in others.  This is a radical thought!  Does Christ really live in each and every one of us even if we have not “accepted Christ” into our lives?  I think he does in some mysterious way that we cannot always understand.

  •  We are created in Christ’s image

I believe there are dimensions of Christ that live in all of us.  How could they not?  We are created in his image.  Not some people but all people.

  • To see the best in everyone

Dorothy Day encourages us “To love with understanding and without understanding.  To love blindly, and to folly.  To see only what is lovable.  To think only on these things.  To see the best in everyone around, their virtues rather than their faults.  To see Christ in them …”  This is what the body of Christ is called to in the parish.

What keeps us from having the imagination to see Christ in others?