One sharp pain. One utterance of surprise. Oh.
He leaves no great philosophies. There are no medals, no headstone.
Only a few strings left attached to this world.
Letters in government files
The sacrifice a mother makes to prove her relation to the boy whose life is opened up on paper
for a pension she is denied.
Is it invasion to hang on their every word --
the words of intimacy and filial love in these letters?
I am his family too and he is mine.
These strings scribbled on cheap, creased stationery
little ways of knowing a great deal (though I knew him
without knowing it all my life ).
Apologizing for his handwriting and blaming his pen.
Butter from a country doctor as he sits in a hospital bed.
No letters from home yet.
Despair in one string, bravado in another;
A book sent home to remember him by and
I'm a tuff buck now.
Have brother plant these pair seeds
They be big as a fist and
He spells as he spoke:
haint, dast, Upstate I beThe book cost me dear.
The last string of words
money sent home for mother's new house
never be afraid to ask, I gladly go without.
He is my muse and my relation
All these years later a picture is found
and we look the same.
I've known him and I have no doubts.
Never question God's creative force,
or His happy coincidences.
The heavens open sometimes
and the saints speak and pray --
happy for reunion.
Yet we are courageous, and we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord.
“None can sense more deeply than you artists, ingenious creators of beauty that you are, something of the pathos with which God at the dawn of creation looked upon the work of his hands. A glimmer of that feeling has shone so often in your eyes when — like the artists of every age — captivated by the hidden power of sounds and words, colours and shapes, you have admired the work of your inspiration, sensing in it some echo of the mystery of creation with which God, the sole creator of all things, has wished in some way to associate you.” Letter of John Paul II to Artists
Isn’t there something thrilling in the idea that God, through some mysterious inspiration, taps our shoulders and asks us to birth beauty? Artists are graced especially with a sense that we are given something from nothing. We take an idea only just now occurring to us and bring it into this dimension of reality. When we have taken our inspiration seriously enough, we sense the importance of it or the goodness within it even in its embryonic stages. Though our limited talents may always disappoint us, there is a sense that this idea, this vision was given as a gift — if even a more humble one than others receive. Yet is any gift small if it is meant especially for us?
When we keep our eyes on the gift before us, we feel that expansive breath and excited heartbeat. It transports us to the heavens — if only for moments of time. I don’t know if everyone is gifted with such moments or if it is really only given to artists. I do know that we have a choice to accept the grace or not.
For twenty years I ran from God’s call on my life like Jonah, and I too was swallowed by a whale. I had caused many storms and needed to be thrown overboard. I turned back to God and the creative call only after everything else that seemed more practical had failed.
But it doesn’t matter anymore. Saying yes to the art that God asks us to make puts you in a special mood — one that makes life very simple even when it’s difficult. Listen and obey.
Have you ever felt called to do something? Did you run from it or embrace it instantly? I’d love to know in the comments!