Yesterday, a friend and I went to the Colorado Gem and Mineral Show (http://www.denvermineralshow.com/) on the hunt for 24 minerals to be set into the tops of funeral urns I am making in clay for an art show in early November at Edge Gallery in the Navajo Arts District. We wandered from stall to stall, eyes wide open as we encountered God’s handiwork. And rather humbled by it all. My friend kept referring to the artistry of God, seen in each stunning cluster of color and sparkle. He is a geologist but he can see past the chemistry to the divine artist in the lab we call the cosmos.
What struck me most about the afternoon was how present beauty can make one. In the encounter with beauty – be it liturgy, rocks, oils on canvas, kindness, sculpture, a view of the mountains, an awake soul – any encounter with beauty will draw one down to the present moment in a way that nothing else in my experience does.
At one moment we stood there staring at this specimen of Rhodochrosite. It is a rare and beautiful gem found in Colorado. Men and women with chisels and hammers find these stones in the mountains on their “claims” (We found out you can get one, a “claim” that is, for about $200. Santa will be hearing from me, by letter, with accompanying documents needing his signature.)
We let our eyes wander over its surfaces. We stood there for what seemed hours, even though this was the gazillianth stone we had gawked at like school-girl-fans of 50’s music seeing the Beatles, live, for the first time.
There was a “before” the encounter with this rock. There was “the encounter” with this rock and then there was “life after the encounter.” I wonder at how seductive images are for me and for most of us moderns. Images come at us from every direction and they are designed to catch our attention – so designed by people trained in successfully doing so.
I think that is why I need to pray in the dark. I want an encounter which had a before and an after – an after which is different. I want the same from friendship.
It will be hard for Americans to stop, look and listen – to be present with one thing and drink deep of its beauty. But I am convinced that staying with this moment, right now, and drinking deep of it (whatever it brings…and that is often the hard part) is the bedrock of our encounter with God through this huge rock on which we all live.