His was a face ill shaven, with unsuccessfully cut hair, messy looking; but not in the modish-took-hours-to-look-messy-look. His clothing was poorly fitting, his mannerisms negligent of refinement. The young woman next to him I perceived was his girlfriend. Her appearance was similar, her language uncultivated, crass; her pajama pants faded. The couple caught my curiosity, and so I watched them for a few seconds, as the young woman hung on his arm with a happy grin on her face. He whispered and they laughed and he gently embraced her as they walked, side by side. My curiosity led me to harshly wonder: They apparently love each other. But how does she love someone like him? And how could he love her? Look at them. Really. Their love just couldn't be all that resplendent. I doubt they could even spell "resplendent." Such shallow thoughts. Did I really think in those few seconds, that love had the potential to be inferior when embraced by someone that I regarded as unlovely? We all breathe and live. We are all humans. And love is still love. It is love there, it is love here. For love transcends time and space and history. It transcends ignorance, culture, wealth, intelligence. Agape love, Philia love-- all love. Above all, love perfectly transcends beauty-- it exists independent of limits of loveliness, it completely disregards beauty and splendor, ugliness, lowliness.

I needed only to look at the cross again, to have fully learned that.


. . .

What is it that I love in loving You? You are the light that shines into my soul which no physical place can contain, where time does not snatch away the lovely sound, where no breeze disperses the sweet fragrance, where no eating diminishes the food, and where there is an embrace that can't be torn asunder. This is what I love when I love my God.

What is this God? I asked the earth, and it answered, "I am not He." Everything in the earth made the same confession. I asked the sea and the deeps and the creeping things, and they replied, "we are not your God; seek above us." I asked the fleeting winds, and the entire air with its inhabitants answered, "I am not God." I asked the heavens, the sun, moon, and stars; and they answered, "Neither are we the God whom you seek."

I replied to all these things that surround me: "You have told me about my God, that you are not He. Tell me something about Him." With a loud voice they all cried out, "He made us." My question had come from observing them, and their reply came from their beauty of order.

Isn't this beauty of form visible to all whose senses are unimpaired? Why, then, does it not say the same things to all? Animals, both great and small, see but are unable to question its meaning. Their senses are not endowed with the reason that would enable them to judge the evidence their senses report.

-St. Augustine

. . .


My new lovely, big window was recently installed.
And the Plum tree outside is in full bloom. Bliss.


We are not only conscious of it, but every one of our senses are aware of it. Of a pervasive unlit-ness; of this present and infiltrating Cimmerian darkness. It is recognized even as we look out our window: at the ugly rotting leaves or the tilting dying Oak, or the graffiti which mars the wall. We hear it on the streets: crude language, horrible patois, the distortion of canon, the misuse of beautiful words-- the misuse of beautiful meaning. It is shockingly visible everywhere, especially promulgated through media: slandering, the absence of Truth, the lack of peace, abortion, death, the abuse of sex and sexuality, war, nihilism, murder, thievery, greed and the obsession of self. This darkness is everything that beauty and light isn't. It is everything that goodness and purity is not. It is an epidemic; a raging flood. It's something we don't like to acknowledge very often. Because it terrifies.

[We are] afraid of the dark-- not afraid to go up the stairs in the physical darkness of night, but afraid of the shadows of another kind of dark, the darkness of nothingness, of hate, of evil.

So we rush around trying to light candles. Some are real: books are candles for me; so is music; so is friendship. Others blow up in our faces, like too much alcohol and too many sleeping pills or pep pills. Or hard drugs. Or sex where there isn't any love.

I think it was Toynbee who said that we are a sick society because we have refused to accept death and infinity. Our funeral practices open themselves up to satire, but they are only symptom. There's an insurance commercial on the radio which says, "if something should happen to you," with the implication that without some unforeseen accident of course you'll never die. (L'Engle)

For me, my candles are books and music as well. But a greater light illuminates this great darkness for me, and my shuddering is less for my security is strong:
"Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death." (Hebrews 2:14-15)
Sometimes I still find it desperately, nearly impossible to live with such havoc and distortion of peace and love and ravaging the world. But I know that this darkness creates in us a search for purpose and meaning in the midst of it. I think it was Carl Jung who said, "Death is psychologically as important as birth. Shrinking away from it is something unhealthy and abnormal which robs the second half of life of its purpose." Death and dying and darkness and fear-- these shadows prove to us that there really is light.
"The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned." (Matthew 4:16)

. . .