On How Beautiful People Happen

Dr. Kathy Bozzuti-Jones

Photo: KBJ

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” ―Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

We have certainly seen our share of suffering and loss in 2020, including struggles with loss of loved ones, health, and jobs; with overwork, isolation, and food and financial insecurity; with fires, floods, and storms; and all in polarizing political contexts. I don’t know about you, but I am not feeling so beautiful in the midst of all this. It takes resilience to bounce back from setbacks such as these.

According to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, however, the most beautiful people are those who have found their way through suffering and loss — and grown in compassion because of it. She is talking about resiliency, the ability to cope and adapt — even thrive — amidst ongoing change and adversity. In a sense, developing resiliency is like growing in holiness: its fruits are beauty and compassion.

The Rev. Gabriele Ganswindt of Shared Learning International suggests that whatever life presents, we have an opportunity to become better, stronger, and more resilient rather than bitter. We can get a sense of whether we are growing in resiliency by looking for general trends: Am I learning? Am I growing? Am I becoming wiser? Softer? Or am I declining? Becoming bitter? Resentful? Hopeless? As you consider your own growth in resiliency, be gentle with yourself. Be patient. Look for small signs of new growth and build on those.

The Sunday morning Discovery adult formation series has begun and, with it, opportunities for ongoing conversation about integrating difference in community, especially across political divides. For the kickoff, we invited the Rev. Winnie Varghese to interview activist, comedian, and podcaster Dylan Marron about the wisdom gained from responding in person to hate speech penned by his online detractors. Dylan shared his “secret weapon” for building unlikely relationships: Draw out the dignity of the person by getting to know their “why.” Discover what matters most to them, using softness as a strength. It certainly takes courage, humility, and clarity of purpose to continue along this chosen path. In the words of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross: “Beautiful people don’t just happen.”

Kathy Bozzuti-Jones
Associate Director, Faith Formation & Education

Join the ongoing Discovery conversation about our commitment to our deepest values, nurturing community life, and the evolution of Trinity’s outreach to diverse neighbors in Lower Manhattan.


Worthwhile Voices

Signs of resilience all over the Diocese of New York