It was only a matter of time. At first when my husband took up learning Swedish I was relieved. I remembered my student struggles with Latin, Spanish and Italian and thought ''good on him'', but never again for me.

Still, the thought lingered. I had spent six years teaching English to older Chinese adults much braver than myself. Mainly in their 70s and 80s, they wanted to be able to speak to their grandchildren and understand the conversations and media around them.

Week after week they plugged away at the intricacies of a new tongue with their
goals firmly in mind. I admired them thoroughly and had to admit that I felt like a cowardly custard in comparison.

So here I am, struggling with the lovely froth of French. J’adore et je deteste
le francais.

Although I often feel like an elephant attempting ballet, more often than not it’s
fun trying to capture the floating clouds of French pronunciation. And it’s a reminder to me that beauty is its own reward.

Like our cat, the French language exists wholly unto itself. It doesn’t apologise for its eccentricities and accepts all compliments as only its due.

We are all made for beauty – our hearts tell us this whenever we experience it. And when we are thirsty for it, we search it out wherever we can find it.

We need beauty as surely as we need air and hope and sometimes find it in the most unexpected places.

Australian filmmakers are adept at showing us our continent in every facet of dark and light. Scorching deserts and salt flats contrast with endless skies and spilt bowls of stars.

Slovenly towns adrift in alcohol, violence and prejudice are visited by exotic strangers with newer, freer ways of seeing.

Our fragile planet is full of people deprived of their share of its beauty. Ruthless
governments and corporations exploit vulnerable populations with economic injustice, ecological destruction and the unspeakable ugliness of war.

Against these dark backgrounds, it’s hard not to believe that beauty has been extinguished too. But the poet Leonard Cohen asks us to never despair: "Ring the bells that still can ring/ Forget your perfect offering/ There is a crack in everything/ That’s how the light gets in."

The death of Christ, surrounded by intimidation, lies, and torture was an event of the
greatest ugliness – and, simultaneously, one of the greatest beauty.

The beauty of the Crucifixion lies in viewing it as the ultimate expression of love. Both Father and Son give everything for love. Love of each other and love for us.

It is impossibly beautiful. But seen through the eyes of faith, it is also impossibly true.

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