"There, then, is the role of the amateur: to look the world back to grace. There, too, is the necessity of his work: His tribe must be in short supply; his job has gone begging. The world looks as if it has been left in the custody of a pack of trolls. Indeed, the whole distinction between art and trash, between food and garbage, depends on the presence or absence of the loving eye. Turn a statue over to a boor, and his boredom will break it to bits -- witness the ruined monuments of antiquity. On the other hand, turn a shack over to a lover; for all its poverty, its lights and shadows warm a little, and its numbed surfaces prickle with feeling." (Robert Farrar Capon)
All too often, I forget that in order to write, I need to read. In order to create, I need to seek inspiration. At the heart of this, of course, is my and yours and all-of-our desperate need for one another. We are inescapably interconnected. I do not exist in a vacuum, I do nothing in a vacuum. All that I do, all that I am, is, in some way, influenced and determined by something you or the stranger beside me on a bench or the child in Romania has done or said or been.
A few weeks ago, my lovely friend, Anne, pushed a book into my hands. The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection by Robert Farrar Capon. She had been telling me about it for some time. When she gave it to me, I added it to the forever growing to-read stack. I have a tendency to save the best things for last, a practice that is not as much an indication of my patience as it is my fear and restlessness. So, the book lay quiet until last night, when I picked it up and gasped at Capon's frank simplicity, whimpered at his brisk commentary on the existence of our earth.
The loving eye, that which bestows qualities of beauty and grace, simply because it recognizes that which is already present.
It is as if we have all been wandering around in a desert, and have stumbled upon an endless supply of water. We only have one or two vessels with which to drink, though. Some of us resort to using our hands, or plunging our heads into the water. Others, however, pass the vessel around, sharing the water. Those people, I think, experience more deeply the life-sustaining act of drinking, because they observe others as they drink and are observed themselves.
I have recently been thinking about honesty and dishonesty. What is it that makes dishonesty, the act of telling a lie, immoral? I have always had the impression that lying was harmful primarily to the person to whom the lie is being told. I wonder, though, if dishonesty is mostly immoral because it harms the liar. The act effectively cuts the liar off from the other person, it prevents her from being known and from being loved with pure truth.
What is it about vulnerability that frightens us so? Why are we so afraid of participating truthfully in living and in being in relationship?
I have been turning this Capon quote over and over in my mind. What is it that makes some people "lovers" and others "boors"? I suspect that, on some level, it is the fear of being vulnerable, the fear of sharing, the fear of acknowledging and embracing one's interdependence on the people and elements that make up this ramshackle world of ours.
I desperately want to be a lover, desperately want to look the world back to grace. But, I am entirely dependent on you and your eyes. We must help each other see. Help me see art in the trash, help me see food in the garbage. And when I catch a glimmer of beauty in the overgrown, rundown, creaky old planet, I will stand beside you and point so that you can see it too.