Saturday, May 9, 2015

Contemplating Art - The Beauty of Perfect Imperfection

I gazed around the quiet museum gallery feeling the intensity of ancient struggle and overcoming. Mother Mary, holding the legs of her beautiful child, Jesus, the remainder left on a beach at Normandy; Thomas Aquinas, with one eye gleaming from the bridge of the nose, the other sunken into his temple. Then there was wooden Jesus, hanging crucified huge as life, and missing the pinky fingers on his left hand. 

They all stood stoic among the other artifacts, bearing their chips and gouges as a palpable witness to life. Bearing, not only the lives whose images they bore, but the years they had lived in posterity, as the earnest work of artisan hands. The tour guide said, ”Gaze at the artwork in this room and notice what draws you, what speaks to you.” All I could see were the perfect imperfections. All I could feel was the fierce wild and loving tenderness of those relics, the lives they endured so patiently and the grace that flowed from their wounds.

All I could feel was beauty.


“The beauty that emerges from woundedness is a beauty infused with feeling; a beauty different from the beauty of landscape and the cold perfect form. This is a beauty that has suffered its way through the ache of desolation until the words or music emerged to equal the hunger and desperation at its heart. It must also be said that not all woundedness succeeds in finding its way through to beauty of form. Most woundedness remains hidden, lost inside forgotten silence. Indeed, in every life there is some wound that continues to weep secretly, even after years of attempted healing. Where woundedness can be refined into beauty a wonderful transfiguration takes place.” 

This is the truth. I have no right to significant woundedness at all. My life has been privileged, successfully industrious, primarily joyful and immensely fulfilling. Sure, I've had ups and downs, in relationship and in health. I can't imagine anyone who hasn't. I lived through them and I am who I am because of them!  When you are diagnosed with cancer, for example, others who have endured that challenge encourage you with their  stories of survival; stories you never heard before your diagnosis. Survivors of cancer are numerous. Same with addiction, miscarriage, sexual abuse, betrayal, discrimination, and more. 

"Love and suffering are portals to opening the mind space and the heart space, breaking us into the breadth and depth of communion." says Fr Richard Rohr. Suffering opens the mind space and then the heart space. Indeed, when we experience wounding beyond our control we have have no choice but to find the courage it takes to live through it without controlling it! And we join the community of souls who have done likewise. We learn, through the fear that comes with wounding experiences, who we are in God (our Higher Power) and we open our minds and hearts to the reality that we constantly live in the tension of vulnerability and strength. The beauty of our humanness is our frailty and our staying power!

Alfred North Whitehead said, Beauty = intensity + harmony. The most intense times of our lives are when we are fearful or in love. An illustration of this dichotomy, John 4:18 reads, "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear." When we pick up the broken pieces of our wounds and bind them back together in love, through the realization that we are stronger than than we knew, we (re)harmonize our being at a new level of awareness and empathy. We make friends with fear and transfigure it into Love. We accept our vulnerability and acknowledge our inner strength in order to  channel them into personal equanimity and social compassion. We make the "imperfection" perfect. And that is beautiful.

With the grace and peace of perfect imperfection, may you find your harmony every day, resting in WHAT IS with wisdom, balance and compassion.

_/\_Peggy @ Ecumenicus

1 comment:

  1. I am a student of darkness. It is an old, familiar friend, and always has something new to tell me. These look like 12th century images, as many of my black madonnas also are. Love this confluence of meaning and art.