So. In Assisi I talked about my contradiction between my personal and institutional faith life (strongly associated with my religious heritage seen in Europe). I talked about how I was hurt and prideful against the Church, and how St. Francis (my favorite ‘spiritual great’) had been a major balancing/centering figure for me on the trip (he saw the problems in the Church and loved it/them even more; humbly and selflessly).
I’ve come a long way! I’ve realized I’m even more prideful than I originally thought, and living in an intense (or shall we say, ‘in-tents’?) community has made me realize that I am greedy of my comforts and possessions, I’m easily irritable, I would rather buy an Italian coffee or Belgian beer over tithing my change… *sigh. In short, I am so, so, so far away from the spiritual ‘greats’ we’re learning about (St. Antony, St. Therese de lisieux, St. Francis…). I study them, and I want what they have… I really, really want it. I do. But, I just… can’t reconcile the distance that divides me from them.
And so we talked about it (we do that sometimes when with friends 24/7). We were talking about art (we see a lot of art)… and about how we might feel pressured to be the next artistic ‘great’. I don’t feel the pressured to be the next artistic ‘great’. Honore Daumier and Franz von Stuck (two people who I had never heard about before 2 months ago and now I am in love with their work… look them up. seriously.) can keep their crowns. But… give me a second to experience the intimacy that Erasmus or Francis might have felt in their relationship with my God and I will mimic ‘The Ecstasy of Theresa’ (google it?)… or so I feel sometimes.
Maybe if the art galleries inspire so much as a stickmen from our pencil tips – some form of impression – some form of expression – than maybe we can hope to draw stickmen with our mumbling, tripping, and fumbling faith. Nygel said in reply, ‘generosity is my stickman’. It is. In the rain, after a full day of museums, when I’m cooking and the sky hasn’t been blue for days (or even when it has (the sky, I mean – being blue) and everything is ammazzing) I often feel as though I don’t have enough generosity to even draw a stickman with. But I try. I try to try. I want to try to try. And Jesus said that, ‘those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled’, right? In the process. In the trying. In the wanting to try to try. In the wanting to want.
And with every trying to try to want to try to want (?) maybe I can hope to bring a little bit of heaven to earth, to be pleasing to my God (oh, yes please)… to participate in bringing heaven to earth, like all those spiritual greats.
I want to share about all the art that has touched me: about the morning dips in a Swiss lake; about walking to the Florentine Duomo in bare feet late (late) at night; about para-gliding in the alps; about lying on the ground and then dancing beneath the Eiffel Tower at night; about running to catch the North Sea sunset. But I talk instead about drawing stickmen. I just feel like… if I don’t learn to do this, if I don’t learn to better exhibit the qualities that my God wants in his heaven, then all of this is useless. It is.
Oh, let me draw stickmen.