BEAUTIFUL UGLY

Today’s Prayer to Passage brought me to an excerpt from the book ‘Holy the Firm’ by Annie Dillard.

My prayer today is, “Dear God, What am I to do next? My job keeps me grounded. My writing keeps me creative. My daily living stretches my limits and capacities of growth. What do You have planned for me? What is my purpose?”

Following my prayer, I bowed my head and concentrated on the closed book in hand. My fingers traversed lightly to page 57. And my eyes darted toward this:

“Yet some have imagined well, with honesty and art, the detail of such a life, and have described it with such grace, that we mistake vision for history, dream for description, and fancy that life has devolved. So. You learn this studying any history at all, especially the lives of artists and visionaries; you learn it from Emerson, who noticed that the meanness of our days is itself worth our thought; and you learn it, fitful in your pew, at church.”
—ANNIE DILLARD

Ah! The answer is evident. My purpose is alive, a beating heart. It is my appreciation that is missing and unknown. I become distracted and impulsive. Sign of the times. So much so that I have developed an auspicious way of communicating with God through print media. Apparently, old-fashioned reverent prayer doesn’t cut it for me. What, with my attention span of a goldfish? Art takes time and effort and editing. Minute-by-minute living is not like that. There is nothing on the cutting room floor. Those scenes are all a part of the picture. Take the bad with the good and call it all life.

When I made an agreement with God in 2010 to have my life—my regular, odd, mundane, extraordinary, un-shiny, shiny life—witnessed by the biggest audience, the spirits in Heaven, I was not only signing up for a daring (some might say delusional) adventure, I was honoring that all of life is sacred. And those who were once here, living it in the body, might appreciate it all the more, that they are gone. And they are not gone. Imagine that you are being filmed 24-hours a day, every day. For the past five years. Imagine that sometimes you forget you are being filmed, that your reality is being viewed by billions. Those humbling moments you are so thankful nobody saw? Captured. Your secrets? Revealed. You see, once we die, embarrassment is no longer embarrassment. So why should I foster a fear and trepidation of dead people seeing everything I do? It…is…awesome.

My window is open today, and the rain is making its dappling patter on the pavement. A neighbor is playing a violin next to another opened window. It is all so beautiful. There must be aspects of life that we recognize from Heaven as beauty. My children’s book version of Heaven has harpists and lutenists and choirs of angels. Sometimes I wonder, “What do they think of my life? Do they have an opinion at all? What does desire feel like in Heaven? The desire to return to earth and live again, is it due to the beauty or the ugliness? Or a combination of both?”

When I grow up, I want to be a beating heart.

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