Know Who is Important
Things of Beauty
By Rafi M. Ali, M.D.
Director of DarusSalam Seminary’s Tadrīs Integrated High School Program
Many years ago, I remember watching an episode of Little House on The Prairie where Charles (husband of Caroline Ingalls) causes great stress to his family by spending an inordinate amount of time at work for reasons that do not seem to add up. At the end of the episode, he gifts a beautiful china set to his relieved and overjoyed wife (“My Lady” as Charles would say). The china set was bought from the extra wages.
The episode ended with voice-over concluding remarks from their little daughter, Laura. “We used the new dishes for supper that evening, and every supper after that. That’s because Ma said special dishes aren’t for special times, they’re for special people, and family all together is the most special of all.”
I have been fortunate to have been invited to many beautiful homes, veritable mansions, where the impeccable china seems never to have been disturbed — imprisoned in a glass cage. It is an unfortunate common phenomenon that people who should matter most to us seem to occupy little interest in our imagination. Familiarity breeds, if not contempt, then boredom, emotional fatigue, apathy, or an unjustifiable indifference. Yet, is not a rose a rose forever? In the better words of Keats:
A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing…
Over time, blessings tend to clutter in the periphery of our imagination. It has been suggested that the fastest cure for ingratitude is loss. Best to learn some lessons without such trials. Periodic reflection on the real possibilities of such losses keeps the warmth of gratitude afresh in our hearts, and the doors of hospitality open for all. Familiarity also cements bonds of friendship. Let us strive to not take our families, friends, and colleagues for granted.
Such are the aspirations of Excellent Teachers. If we are not careful, it is easy to get accustomed to our surroundings and forget the charm that they once inspired.
. Monasymons, “Little House on the Prairie S02E19 For My Lady – Dailymotion Video,” Dailymotion (Dailymotion, 22 Aug. 2017), https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x5xqf90.
. John Keats, “From Endymion by John Keats,” Poetry Foundation (Poetry Foundation), https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44469/endymion-56d2239287ca5 (accessed October 1, 2019).