Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Glimpse of Beauty

the birds that fly away
are never exactly the same as those that return 
Anne Pierson Wiese, "Everything but God" from  Floating City: Poems

I watch my children and marvel at their strengths, despair at their faults, and wonder at what I know and don't know of them. As babies I was better than anyone else at predicting their wants and needs. I am in tune with their rhythms and needs more than anyone else even now. I watch them, I care for them, and I'm besotted. They are such interesting people to me, so fully themselves, so uniquely different from each other, and so impossibly beautiful as every world is to the frequent observer.

How is it that beauty has an edge of pain? I am sometimes gripped by a sadness when I feel the flash of beauty upon a moment.

I stared at a lot of paintings, and other things deemed physically beautiful, traipsing about cathedrals and museums in Europe. I can recognize a painter's skill but it is characters, story lines, and words that allow me to enter into beauty. Maybe others know music or paint or dirt as their gateway.

If you have ever meditated, you may have heard the analogy of the glass jar full of dirty water. As the jars jostles along in the day it is cloudy and difficult to see through until it sits quietly with time to allow things to settle which is when clarity comes. When you sit and let things fall away, things settle down and you can see better. In search of this quiet depth, I read and read. Sometimes I think I read too much, and sometimes I think I don't read enough.

Last night I read of Jack, Laura Ingalls Wilder's dog, dying. Tears sprang to my eyes. In a flash I went from reading the story which had lurched forward five years with the start of another book in the series, to watching my cat on the last day of her life from my front steps. Maybe it's the goodbye. I'm not good with them because I know how much change goodbye means-- they mean not seeing someone for a long time, if ever again.

Friends walk in and out of your life. Sometimes life conspires to bring you together again, maybe if you're from the same town, at a random concert and spot each other across the crowd, or because you always stay open to each other. The loss is when their presence is not part of the continual probing and exploring of your life. When you make giant strides across the globe, parts of your life are lived here and there, leaving a lot of holes behind. Connections that root you to people and places weaken.

I'm built like Swiss cheese, full of holes but firm enough. I think I'm supposed to be like Brie, soft and squishy, but it feels like the world is built for hard cheddar, firm and smooth. Nothing is smooth about goodbye or beauty to me. The wellspring of beauty is love and pain. Love and pain are the sources that beauty draws upon. A few holes may allow the light to penetrate. Maybe some beauty will come of it in ways never imagined.

The wellspring of beauty is love and pain.