With the arrogance of youth, I determined to do no less than to transform the world with Beauty. If I have succeeded in some small way, if only in one small corner of the world, amongst the men and women I love, then I shall count myself blessed, and blessed, and blessed, and the work goes on. -- William Morris

Saturday, July 10, 2010


As a thinker, I am comfortable with the First and with the Last; with the spirits that breathe men forth and draw them to their last with inevitable gravity. I think of God. My thoughts are at rest with the Sewer and the thread that spin the fabric of reality. I prefer eyes not naked but well dressed and trained to see those tiny tears where the veil is pierced in fleeting moments of ecstasy. It is as though these eyes lust for what cannot be seen and would find the most vibrant colors a drab and empty pallet. They can see the outlines of the shadow that, in reality, is a blazing sun in a world of shades. And they only cry "Beauty!" when there is a depth of this invisible in the seen.

What we see is never simple and never simply seen. What we see is always the invisible in the visible; the unseen in the seen. Some would have us think the world a shallow pond, so deprived of depth that there is in fact no water in which to wade. But in truth there is only a glossy surface because there are leagues of depth stretching down to where the anglers abide. Some would have a waveless world in which we all walk on our waters, all the bearers of such mediocre miracles. I would rather we float and sink and dare to drown.

I recall with fondness those moments when I first really began to think; when I would gaze at the trees outside my window and see something there I had not seen before. Such moments were Christmas mornings; I didn't see a tree but "a tree!" Each leaf was vibrant with an odd an unnamed vibrancy. All the matter was prosaically arranged, the data undisturbed, not a particle out of place. But now the tree appeared to me as gift; as though my eyes were tearing through wrapping paper. I had reached a point at which I could see these objects in all the fragility of their being, and in this alone is true beauty found. To see the poverty of each thing's appearance is to see the outlines of God in its bark or in its flesh. It is to hear an echo of a divine word uttered before the dawn first broke. And in this very poverty, a paradox: the tree becomes infinitely more than it ever would be were it "simply" seen. Truly, our eyes were meant to see in this shade: to see all things as if each moment were a Christmas morning.

Were this world devoid of origin, it would be deprived of depth. It would be the two-dimensional surface many say it is. But because it has an origin, it is deep. The surface is transfigured and its flatness is that of an icon.

Pax Christi,


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