Conceptions

A good day full of rain. How I love a rainy day for living life.

My study of Luke 12 begun on Monday has yielded fruit, and I have a satisfactory Sunday school lesson. Part of the help there came from reading Baxter’s The Saints Eternal Rest this morning, and very indirect the help that.

Curious how any worthwhile reading will help. Does one need discipline in reading, or just discipline to pick worthwhile things to read in any order? Two weeks ago for Genesis it was something from Auden. And it is still yielding fruit today–the Auden–because the chap thought.

Yielding in other spheres as well. With the watercolors, my teacher wants me to discover the way metaphor is managed by that art: to interpret and not to reproduce. Auden has this thing about what is sacred: to a society and to an individual. And he talks about how the individual seeks to find a way to join what is publicly sacred with what is personally sacred–to amplify and deepen the former with the latter. Or something like that: I forget the details and maybe I’m just inventing it, but it was suggested to me by reading or misreading Auden’s words.

You see, I am learning to read the way Auden did. Anyway . . . Why, for example, do I love the sunlit sides of the green mountains, or the quiet of a walled in garden wild or tended–the privacy and really the sacredness of that privacy? When I see it I realize it is something both precious and inviolable represented there. That it is inviolable is what makes me glad about it, gives me a joy to see it. These are for me instances of something that has to do with what is sacred–in Auden’s use of the term.

And as I move toward the project of interpreting–my teacher’s word–of suggesting rather than asserting, of showing rather than telling everything (or is it telling rather than showing with painting?) with the watercolors I think of that: trying to find something privately sacred in the object and showing it in a publicly recognizable way.

It is where the challenge comes in to do something more than just color a drawing. It is to be able to handle the metaphors in such a way that what one sees with one’s own eyes others can understand, which of course also requires from them a response, which is the unending problem of an audience, isn’t it, in this fragmented age. O my Yeats and Eliot!

How, for example, can I show other people what I love in the rain? How can I suggest to them the light of glory of a slope of sunlit grass? How can their concept of what is sacred–in Auden’s sense, whatever that is–not grow to expand to all things, but become deeper and like a new dimension, affect all the rest without destroying it?

Thanks, of course, to the articulate poets. Thanks to Auden, a penetrating chap. Not sure the painters or musicians are always the ones to express it, though I’m on the lookout for some of the things they say. What does, for example, Arvo Part say? I am enjoying what John Blockley says.

She tells me to interpret–my teacher–I think, because she senses somehow something of my private vision in my teaching at church. Or senses rather, that I need the metaphor for painting that I already have for teaching. I am trying to grasp it and I am finding it takes a great deal of work. But it does remind me there are many servants in this sprawling, windy house which must at last form perfectly a complete community.

The curtains move in the wind and the shadows shift, and I hear the voice of another and sense his presence in the house, but I do not see him. You see, one of these days I’m going to either come out with a poem about it, or paint it in very pallid watercolors, like a distant mountain range.

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