"Beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them.
The least we can do is try to be there.”
"I won’t have it. The world is wilder than that in all directions, more dangerous and bitter, more extravagant and bright. We are making hay when we should be making whoopee; we are raising tomatoes when we should be raising Cain, or Lazarus."
(Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek)
Today has been one of those days where an aching sense of loss pervades almost every moment. This week would have been my cousin's birthday week. She would have turned 27. This and another loss have made mornings particularly hard to bear. I keep running through memories in my head, reliving joy and always ending with loss. Memory is not much of a grace today.
Yet, as always, I am constantly surprised and astounded at what grace is given to me. We read and discussed Annie Dillard in class this morning, just fifteen minutes after I had broken down crying right outside the art building. We talked about the risk of learning how to see; the risk that comes because the world not only has deep beauty to show but also deep pain. Then we discussed the quote, "I cannot cause light; the most I can do is try to put myself in the path of its beam." We asked what it means to put yourself in the path of light, as artists and writers. A challenging question, in both the literal and figurative sense of the phrase.
So for the rest of the day, I tried (and am trying) to be as present as possible, not reliving memories, but rather seeing the present grace and beauty being performed around me. And it has been a beautiful day - not easy - but even now, as I'm sitting with a friend, listening to the wind through the citrus trees outside, I feel peace and gratitude.
“We don't know what's going on here. If these tremendous events are random combinations of matter run amok, the yield of millions of monkeys at millions of typewriters, then what is it in us, hammered out of those same typewriters, that they ignite? We don’t know. Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery, like the idle, curved tunnels of leaf miners on the face of a leaf. We must somehow take a wider view, look at the whole landscape, really see it, and describe what’s going on here. Then we can at least wail the right question into the swaddling band of darkness, or, if it comes to that, choir the proper praise.”