Beauty Will Save the World

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On April 26, 10 women participating in a bible study group led by FOCUS Missionary Emily Martinez performed a play they wrote, entitled “The Women at the Well,” to  a standing room only crowd at the chapel at NYU’s Catholic Center. 

The following post was written by one of the bible study group participants who performed in the play.

I looked at all of my Bible Study sprawled on the floor with me. “I’m scared, though. It’s something I haven’t really talked about.”

“Well, do you feel comfortable telling us?” Emily smiled reassuringly. “We can listen, and you can pray about it.”

Honestly, without the young women I met at NYU this year, I wouldn’t have been able to tell my story the way I did. I’m not a performer, and when Emily told our Artist’s Bible Study that she thought it would be cool for us to do a collective artistic testimony about our Faith journey, I probably turned as white as paper—and I’m already pale as the Arch in Washington Square Park, so that’s really saying something.

You see, I’d never really felt like my story mattered. I’m currently studying fashion design at FIT in Manhattan. I want to create clothing that reveals a woman’s soul rather than her body, but it’s so easy to feel as an artist and seamstress that nothing I give to the world really matters. It doesn’t feel as tangible as it should; it’s not clean water or a new home. Often I have to silence the fear that what I’m striving towards isn’t good enough.

But these women that I met this year thought it mattered. They cared so deeply for me, and were so supportive of my endeavors, that I began to believe that maybe—just maybe—what I was doing really did matter.

The day of our performance, with only ten minutes to go, terrified as I’d ever been, I looked up to see the Sixth Station. Saint Veronica was kneeling in front of Christ, staring him in the face like, “Who, me?” His hand was reached out to her—a gesture that said it all: “Yes, you. I know you think you’re the least from worthy, but I want you. Tell me your story.”

I can try, I remember thinking.

And try I did. When someone called five minutes, instead of hiding in the bathroom I went to pray with my sisters. And looking around at everyone’s face while we stood together, asking God to bless our testimonies, I couldn’t have felt more at home. These were girls who I had been raw and honest with, and whom I had grown to love more than I ever thought anyone could in one semester. Being there with them, supporting each other through our stage fright, made me feel like trying might actually be enough.

When my time came to share my testimony, I was able to look at each audience member’s face, something that I had never done before. I didn’t forget a word of what I had written, I wasn’t ashamed of the tears that came. For the first time, I began to recognize the beauty of my story. It was a love story—the story of how God has continually pursued me in the midst of everything I am afraid of. It was as though by me owning my story, God gave me the grace to recognize how He was present in it.

Upon all of us sharing our testimony, we all got up to read an excerpt from John Paul II’s Letter to Artists. The excerpt I read will never cease to amaze me:

“…humanity, every time it loses its way, will be able to lift itself up and set out again on the right path. In this sense it has been said with profound insight that “beauty will save the world.” — JPII

I have heard and professed that Beauty will save the world. With all my fellow artists, all my fellow Catholics, I hope to have the courage to reflect it to the world with every stitch I make.

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