Monday, March 25, 2019

loving the beauty

No form of art, however perfect, can encompass beauty in itself as the Virgin contained her Creator.—Jacques Maritain, Art and Scholasticism

I examine the crocuses blooming in the woods of Morningside Park. There's a whole swatch of daffodils spreading their sunlight petals in between the still-dead trees.

I want to sing about them.

Above them, on benches, men with hard hats on the seats next to them are eating chicken over rice and burritos in tupperware that they packed this morning. It is better, I think, as I look for that same spring sunlight in their faces, manifest in the smiles of relief humans release when the sun snaps the sparkle back into the warming sky in March, it is better to write a poem about a person than a crocus, because a crocus does not doubt that it is beautiful.

But people have a tendency to forget who and what they are, find themselves adrift from the worlds of beauty that lie inside of them.

Hey! says a voice in the seminary library, as I make copies of scenes from Stephen Adly Gurgis' Broadway hit that I found squashed between two bookshelves at the Strand.

I am an intruder in the seminary. Everyone's nice enough not to point it out, but they almost can't help it. Difference is its own calling card.

I put the voice's hands to work stapling pages together.

As we talk about nieces and nephews and children of our respective siblings, I make a joke about how I'm super barren, except it's not a joke, because I am.
He laughs. I say: you can't laugh when a woman says she's barren. That's not pastoral. (again, joke and fact.)
Well, you're bringing life here, he says, doing theatre.

Jacques Maritain writes: "The artist's whole appetitive faculty, her passions and her will, to be rectified in relation to the end of her art, If every faculty of desire and emotion in the artist is not fundamentally rectified and exalted in the fine of beauty whose transcendence and immateriality are superhuman, human life, the humdrum activity of the senses, and the routine of art itself, will degrade her conception. The artist must be in love, must be in love with what she is doing."

Why is it so good? asks Fr. Aaron. Why is the theatre so good?

Why is it good? I wonder. I say I don't know.

But I do know that, in that room, guiding brains back into their bodies, prodding them to make choices with something other than their mind, to help the persons discover what they themselves, their entire mind and soul and self is capable of making, I feel more alive. I see what I am making, and I don't know that I am making anything other than helping other people see what they can make. Maybe that's what making life is:

To reteach a thing its loveliness is fine, but to reteach a soul her worth,
to show a small human what they're made of—sparks and wonder, flame and clay, magic and the living God poured into their nostrils with their daily dose of oxygen—that's a vocation, that's something you can sing about.

To watch someone discover a strength inside their voice they didn't know they had, to help them discover the thoughts of someone else live also inside their heads, to teach them that the feelings of their own heart are enough to understand someone else's—that's the best poetry.

That's why it's good.

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