A Catholic Monthly Magazine

The Beauty Beyond

by Brother Romuald Gibson fms

Review by Kieran Fenn fms

Beauty Shattered: Life brings many painful situations, but few can be as devastating as the breaking apart of a marriage and the loss of contact with loved children. The coming to terms with such loss and the long and painful healing process forms the story told in this book. While the narration is one of the gentle wisdom that a wise and compassionate mentor brings into the life of the central figure, it is the title that remains as an intriguing question mark.

The beauty beyond must surely point to what lies beyond a long and very painful healing process; Lamond finds that there is life beyond the painful loss and rejection he experiences. Gradually he is opened up to the healing influence of nature and love. There is also a Beauty Beyond in the power of God whose love and compassion for all that this God made has its own beauty.

Beauty Rediscovered: The book touched off associations with the Gospel of John with its interplay of light and darkness. The 15 original paintings catch many of the themes in the book. The darkness and pain, the stepping into the cage of one’s own misery, the picture of warm love that radiates from the daughters, the golden glow of the risen Christ who came to bring freedom and to the full. To capture in art the line of the story is a rare skill and Br Romuald does it well.

The spiritual guide for Lamond is a wise woman, Maud Anderson. And let us not forget her dog, Rory, whose joyful acceptance of Lamond and walks with him are healing influences also. Family support comes from his sister Lucy and daughter, Poppy. The subtitle is ‘Discovering the Beauty of God.’ I am sure there are many theological treatises written on such a topic. But to publish a novel that tells a story of the experience of finding that love and beauty is a rarer feat.

Beauty Beyond: There are many aspects to the healing process Lamond enters into. The wise spiritual counselling, the love of those who support him through his struggles, his own openness and opening to prayer, scripture, and the God who speaks through the vagaries of life. From self-misery to self-acceptance and to self-transcendence is a painful journey, but the discovery of the beauty that lies beyond is the goal of such a journey. Friendship, love, good advice – and cups of tea – all play their part in accompanying one on the journey of letting go and letting be and letting light in.

The book has a Lenten and Easter note to it as it moves through its chapters on suffering and redemption, pain and loss, agape and crucifixion, redemption and resurrection. The book finishes with Maud asking Lamond “What is this all about?” The entire book is an intricate weaving of life experience, God experience, literature, prayer, gospel, psalms, and prophets. It takes many sources to give any sort of answer to that question. It has its own note of irony that the one who has supplied many of the answers herself and more importantly has directed Lamond on the path of finding his own answers, asks that question for herself, for Lamond, and for the reader of a book filled with spiritual wisdom, not to mention its marvellous art.



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