“A soul must search with blinded eyes
For that which can’t be seen.
It senses yearnings deep within,
Yet knows not what they mean.” *
We have a tendency to skim along the surface of life, never reflecting on its deeper meanings. Our culture is not in the habit of ‘mining the deeps’ and so we miss a great deal of the richness of life. Being a visual culture, often preferring life on the uppermost layers, ‘mining the deeps’ is an unnatural thing for us to do! Our current culture, with its distractions and pace, makes it easy to skate upon the veneer, barely keeping our ‘nose above water’ as we field Overwhelming and Urgent Demands. It takes a strategic, determined effort to row out of that stream, find some peaceful inlet where there is time and space to consider, reflect, and find a higher vantage point to view our life. How else can we know whether we are skimming over depthless shallows or unfathomable deeps?
It may be unnatural in our pressure-packed, ‘Instamatic’ culture, but just think of the centuries before ours! Whether it was poetry at a Parisian Salon or two spoons and a fiddle on the porch of an Appalachian cabin, previous centuries were known to slow the pace, reflect on Beauty, enjoy relationship. Think of Jane Austen’s day: how common it was to enjoy the evening together after dinner listening to music or reading prose or poetry aloud. This was a typical evening’s occupation and the most pleasant part of their day! By contrast, our culture encourages isolation in dark rooms where we can live exciting lives vicariously, risk-free, …as the moments of our lives skim by….
All art is a means of helping us get beneath the surface. Recently I have rediscovered the joys of poetry, a great instrument for composing my soul and listening to the Deeps. It has helped to steady my inner eyes on Beauty and make friends with those vitalizing parts of life that reside far below the surface. To understand and enjoy poetry, one must be still, listen attentively, delve deeply – a beneficial exercise, maybe especially in our very visual culture. Poetry has fed something deep within that I didn’t even know was hungry.
We exercise our bodies but allow our spirits to get flabby. To “search with blinded eyes for that which can’t be seen” takes a commitment to the soul’s health, the mind’s fitness. Finding time for Beauty is one of the ways we do this; it is a worthy endeavor. Taking time for Beauty unlocks the door to rooms unknown with wealth unfathomed. Jane Austen in her day knew a worthy pursuit – a pursuit that merits rediscovery in our own day.
Yours for a return to Grace, Civility, Beauty, Gentility, and Excellence,
* from a book of poetry entitled: A Surrendered Soul Like Water, by L.L. Culpepper