Thursday, July 02, 2009

Always at a precipice.
We finally flew back to San Francisco (and drove home Tuesday) after a pleasant sojourn to the Art Institute. That visit, our second, found us in the American artists’ galleries, making the rounds from roughly the colonial era to Georgia O’Keefe sections. During lunch at the museum cafĂ© I remarked to Wendy that there always seems to be a point where the mind and its imagination needs recuperation when viewing painting, sculpture, furniture and the like. It seems to me that the eye, the mind and the soul shouldn’t even approach a saturation point as then one risks losing the subtle blips on the existential cardiogram that marks unique moments of anamnesis among all the input absorbed.
I always take in art through very narrow lenses; either lenses that have clarified my own vision of life in Charles’ world (or Charlie’s world, thank you, Sister Maria Paulina) or through the more gauze-like, misty glimpses into the “otherness” that reveals the Way, the Truth, the Life. So, I took a few photos which will doubtless show up in upcoming posts, presumably to bolster some insight or opinion I want to sell you.
But I’m very glad that Wendy scheduled extra time at both ends of the trip so that we could enjoy some little reveries. I forgot to mention a lovely late dinner last night in which our waiter, a very attentive, handsome actor trying to make his way to some serious footlights, had enough time and paucity of customers to actually sit down and drink some wine with us, eat one of the three amazing strawberry-shortcake biscuits that Wendy couldn’t resist (Okay, I ate one, but I avoided desserts at Loyola all week!) There is no occasion to avoid getting to know a stranger when one can make the time.
That kind of leads me back to Sister Maria Paulina; I wonder if anyone else at Chicago 09 thought, when she’d inevitably scoot up next to them and catch them unawares with “Hi, who are you? I’m Sister Maria Paulina!” and that smile that glowed as much as Bernini’s gilded stained-glass window adorning Peter’s Cathedra in St. Peter’s- this nun is the Little Flower of the 21st Century! Two brief moments at the Sunday brunch illustrate this radiance. The first really didn’t have her in the picture, but it was when, out the blue in that stately room the bemused murmurs rose as Maestro Brouwers careened around the tables at a pretty good clip, with that impish, Dutch-boy smile that enchanted Wendy so. The second- as we were making our farewells and headed to Sister’s table, where Wilko was seated next to her, after I give her a peck on the cheek, she says “God bless you, Charlie.” No one ever calls me “Charlie” as if they’ve known that is the version of my name that I cherish. I remark about that to her, and said that I became Charles when I got married. By this time Wendy had arrived at my side, and Sister said, “Oh, Charlie, what is your wife’s name? “Wendy, Sister.” “Okay.”
“Wendy, Wendy,” she called out, “I’m so pleased to finally meet you. You have to call your husband Charlie now.” We all laughed and then she said “You just call him that when he’s happy.” You could have knocked us both over with the feather. Sister had just looked into the 35 years of a married couples’ lives and given us both a gift which was also a kind and generous admonishment: Charles- let the Lord fill your heart with joy and happiness, for what other purpose are you living in this life? You know this, because you enjoy being Charlie. Wendy, help Charles be Charlie by naming him so when he lives and shares with you his happiness and joy.

I wonder with hope that as CMAA grows, that it can somehow avoid the natural curve of all human organizations as they expand. If, as Prof. Mahrt says, we all keep our eyes fixed upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and adhere to the credo of holy, beautiful and universal, then there will be no doubt that the wanderings and exodus some feel have been endured over these forty years (did I just actually toss that off? Silly boy.) will end and the restoration of our sacred worship of God will be fixed, not as molten idols of either silver or gold, and made soundly and universally in Roman Catholic parishes in this country and everywhere.

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