I came across a great quote today:

The most beautiful people are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.

– Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

It struck me because I have been at two events for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in the past two weeks, and I have met some amazing, strong, courageous beautiful people. That beauty shines like a radiance from the inside out, because each person I met was interested not only in their own well-being and recovery, but in how they might be of service to others.

Sharing their story, giving support and encouragement, offering a helping hand — I saw it over and over again and it inspired me.

It is easy — mostly because it's a habit to focus on what's going wrong, what's not working, where we feel a lack. To "find your way out of the depths" involves making the choice — many times a day — to turn toward gifts, grace, abundance, goodness. To put your eyes on what you love and where you feel your deepest affinities.

Take a moment — where do you feel connected? To people you love? To your creative projects? To animals, trees, water, stars? When you bring those people, places and things to mind can you feel your heart lift?

I believe that's where we begin to move out of the depths and towards the light — towards not merely surviving our suffering or fear, but toward understanding and compassion.

As I listened to people who have RA, and as I listened to the people who came with them — their families and friends — I heard struggle and loss, but it was leavened with hope and love.

One person talked about her work as an educator — being with children who need her. Another is an activist and she is promoting political and social change.

A young girl wants to get more people involved in understanding RA.

A young man sat beside his girlfriend with his hand on her knee during the workshop, signaling, "I'm with you."

Where are your connections? How do you spell Hope? Love? That's where real beauty grows, and you, my CreakyJoint friends, are making it happen.

Thanks for all your inspiration.