Still they were beautiful, everyone’s beautiful

I’m currently reading Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, and while I am not yet far enough into it to know whether I can recommend it, I can say that the prose is beautiful. Here’s one of my favorite bits so far (there were several to choose from):

I really can’t tell what’s beautiful anymore. I passed two young fellows on the street the other day. I know who they are, they work at the garage. They’re not churchgoing, either one of them, just decent rascally young fellows who have to be joking all the time, and there they were, propped against the garage wall in the sunshine, lighting up their cigarettes. They’re always so black with grease and so strong with gasoline I don’t know why they don’t catch fire themselves. They were passing remarks back and forth the way they do and laughing that wicked way they have. And it seemed beautiful to me. It is an amazing thing to watch people laugh, the way it sort of takes them over. Sometimes they really do struggle with it. I see that in church often enough. So I wonder what it is and where it comes from, and I wonder what it expends out of your system, so that you have to do it till you’re done, like crying in a way, I suppose, except that laughter is much more easily spent.

I loved that, both because I think people are beautiful when they laugh and because it made me laugh to think of the times I’ve behaved badly in church. (An aside: If you haven’t read that entry, and you need a laugh, go read it and then read the comments on it. hehe.)

I see a lot of different kinds of people at work, and it catches me sometimes: a genuine laugh, the fear and courage in someone’s eyes when they are asking for information on a disease, the pride on a little boy’s face. Of course spring days and autumn leaves and Christmas tree lights are beautiful, but sometimes I forget how beautiful people are when they are just living their lives, loving and being brave and working hard.

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