Every morning, together with my first cup of coffee, as habit has it, I read the front page of The New York Times (NYT), followed by a perusing of the Op-Ed page for points of views from columnist that I respect and which, inevitably, sharpen my own perspectives. In particular I have my favorites, such as Frank Bruni, Paul Krugman, Tom Friedman and David Brooks. Topics vary, but are more often than not, topical. Imagine my surprise at David Brooks’ recent headline, “The Place That Assumes Beauty,” having nothing to do with anything, except just that – beauty.
In lieu of his usual commentary that can be, at times, incensed at happenings or educating or castigating, this one was celebrating the good that some people are willing to do and to what extent they are willing to go to do this. Brooks related the story about two brothers, who together with their wives, lived in Lake Como, Italy, surrounded by beauty and still somehow felt spiritually unfulfilled. One of them met with a renowned priest and reported back that “faith is not an intellectual system, but rather love.”
Not new of course, but what ensued, based on this spiritual uplifting moment, was astounding. Over the decades, they opened their home to hundreds of children, some ill, some not, built services, established a vocational high school, a mental health center and really a whole “village.”
Being the NYT and Brooks, I kept reading, looking for the relevant point of the story. There was none. The story itself was the point – “a belief in beauty expressed in every personal and practical way,” per Brooks.
Kudos to the NYT and Brooks for devoting the right-hand Op-Ed column space to this. In the midst of ongoing belligerent politics, turmoil and angst, it was an astonishing read…