Sunday, September 7, 2008
The Weight of Beauty
This blog finds me sitting in a coffee shop in Flagstaff. My weekend was surrounded by the beauty of Williams, which sits about 30 miles to the west of my current location. I drove up Friday evening to attend a Leadership camp for Young Life and Friday quickly led to Sunday morning, when bags were clumsily stuffed with dirtied clothes and memories... It was an interesting weekend though and for the most part it was enjoyable. The days were filled with activities, interesting conversations, seminars, poor sleep and indoor volleyball... and I am glad I made the trip, though it means that I have a great deal of studying to catch up on this evening. It was enjoyable and yet not without pain and struggle...not without longing, as it seems with so many things in life... at least this has been my experience thus far.
Perhaps beauty has an intrinsic cost. An artist can create an amazing work of art, a painting that may strike awe in a great number of others, inspire them, make them fall in love and yet her soar arms and joints, the paint under her fingernails, the paint smeared over her arms and clothing speak of a price... the labor, albeit a labor of love. The painting is no less beautiful, and perhaps some might even conclude that it is all the more so in light of the pain involved... but it often seems romanticized from the perspective of the witness, not by the one whom has struggled.
As I headed home (and obviously i didn't make it very far) I drove with the windows down and stereo off, which if you know much about me, you realize it is a rare thing for me to exclude music from my experiences. The highway pierced narrowly through fields of golden dandelions swaying softly in the wind, as if they were dancing to a song, a song that was felt but unheard... The summer skies spread the pale clouds out across the hills...and the vivid colors, the shapes and textures swirled inside my very soul. I was journeying into a painting so glorious that it pointed up above where time and imagination serve as tools and not limitations. But I couldn't help wondering then of the costs... if our broken lives have been our share in the labor, if His broken body, the price...
The air was cool and light, pleasantly curling around my head, like a soft, empathetic hand- it touched my shoulders and grazed my neck as the cabin of my truck took deep breathes to drink in the breeze. It was within such a moment that I decided I would stop in Flagstaff to do my studies instead of hurrying home. I'm not ready to leave the forest... but I may never be.
It was also during this short, but moving drive that I had a strange thought to quit school. It was but a passing thought I admit, and yet a real one. I guess I was thinking about just how structured it all seems, pursuing a degree that is... and though I am interested in the material I don't enjoy the way I have to arrive at it. It seems unlike me, to sit in a stuffy classroom and make note cards and cram for exams... I want to be walking along the ocean, the warm sand against my feet thinking about why it feels so good and why there is such beauty in the world... to ponder why it is we are here and why we keep getting hurt... I want to be strumming my guitar and the chords in my throat, sending waves into the universe...and pouring out songs of how I just keep falling apart... I want the sum of my time, the culmination of my days and years to mean more than a respectable job, a shiny new car and finding the American Dream... but this isn't because I am in some way enlightened or closer to dying to myself... I wish it were... The truth is, I arrive at this conclusion mostly for selfish reasons, because that lifestyle seems rather drab and dull to me... the status quo rubs me like indistinguishable shades of grey.... and I want to dream in color... And though I have no idea what that looks like...I do know what it doesn't resemble.
But like I mentioned, though I had a good time, I felt torn this weekend. To be among natural splendor and the tranquility of the mountains, among good natured people who were engaging and well intentioned and yet still feeling like I was somehow cosmically lost, like a star that had ventured too far out into space, too far to give off any light... too far to be considered a star any longer. I struggled because God still seemed so distant... a great distance from real and present and it was killing me, I guess it still is. Perhaps I am living in a paradox, I'm living in that space between...beyond what is reconcilable, I am living in a gap and I just want it to stop hurting, for it to stop kicking the crap out of me. Sometimes I wonder if this might be my lot in life... for we must all bear a cross each of and everyone one of us... perhaps it is my cost, the price I must pay, my weight of beauty. If this were the case, I can only hope that at the end of this weary life, something amazing would result, something of worth that might allow others to feel awe, be inspired and to fall in love...
Christ promises living water from which streams would flow, reaching unto eternity... but I thirst.
10 J at 12:30 PM