Thursday, October 10, 2013

lavish doses of certainty

The saints are the true bearers of light within history, for they are men and women of faith, hope and love.
--Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est

Saints are altogether mysterious beings.
For it is not only the actions of the person on earth during their life that qualifies someone to be a saint; but also what they do in the next world, after their death.
That would seem a bizarre statement, but it reminds me of Madeleine L'Engle's favorite theme: kairos.
If we believe that there is a time outside of time, then it only makes sense that the actions you take when you have shuffled off this temporal coil are just as every bit important as the ones you've accomplished during your quick stay in the realms of created, clock-ticking-on-the-wall time.  
There is a time more real, more full of our realized selves, yet less full of our selves.
The saint in contemplation, lost to self in the mind of God is in kairos. 
The artist at work is in kairos. The child at play, totally thrown outside herself in the game, be it building a sand castle or making a daisy chain, is in kairos. 
In kairos we become what we are called to be as human beings, co-creators with God, touching on the wonder of creation.
-Madeleine L'Engle

 Artists and saints are both the men and women who draw out for the rest of us the mystery and illuminate the magic of kairos.
They are men and women who have shown us what it means to exit the “self” and enter kairos, to enter a beauty and a reality outside one's self.
When Boticelli painted his Birth of Venus, or Monet captured the fuzzy lighting of water lilies in a garden, they illustrated for humans the beauty that is open to us when we live a life of acute attention to the movements of grace in the physical world.
 Mary, perhaps is the most stunning example of both artistry and sainthood.
A woman, first and foremost, of complete faith and hope.
Hope, Benedict says, is practiced by using patience and humility.
Humility to trust that God is God and you are the created, and that in the end, there will be light after darkness. And that each drop of light you create is just a tiny ray. But it is your solemn and holy obligation to light that light. Because the only other option is darkness. There is no middle ground between light and darkness. Some people would call it shades of grey. But shades of grey simply means light.
Light that is either dying or coming to life.
And Patience is allowing yourself to live in kairos rather than chronos; to live in the the fullness of time.  

It is her thoughts that are revealed, beyond her actions or words; we see her interior disposition.
--Kevin Grove, CSC

Mary's artistry is revealed in her Magnificat.
Her longest speech on record is hardly made up of her own words.
It is a psalm of praise, woven together of all the words of the psalms before her, the songs of men who knew who God was.
It is the song of a lightbearer. The song of a woman who knows that light shines through her into the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.
Mary is, perhaps, the perfect artist.
An artist is called to create, in an imitation of the primordial act of the Creator.
But human artists, we have found, cannot create something out of nothing.
Artist cannot create some completely new beauty, divorced of all inspiration from the images in this world which influence their imaginations.
An artist absorbs and soaks in the world around them, whether it be the Greek mythology spinning around in their heads, or a flock of water lilies on a quiet garden pond.
The infinities of splendors that surround them provide the vocabulary of beauty for their imaginations.
And they say to each vision of wonder they encounter: Yes. That flame we call inspiration catches fire from the vision, and adds its bit to the beauty. The artist's response is then: YES, and... 
In theatre, the game of "Yes, AND..." is essential to creating.
The game of yes, and is at the heart of every play, it is the impetus of every plot, it is that spark of joy at the center of a game of pretend.
Creation happens in a community, in a great game of Yes, And.
We are not given many words of Mary, nor are we given many mighty deeds she accomplished.
But while not everyone cannot imitate Joan of Arc and save France, nor mimic Catherine of Sienna and upbraid a pope or two, it is within the capabilities of every human to mold our own dispositions after the shape of the inner disposition of one first century Jewish lady.
This woman's response to the infinities of splendor that were thrust into her life was a meditative pondering; holding each wonder in the creative silence of a heart.
And a relentless, unwavering: Yes, And...

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