To have watched from one of your patios
the ancient stars,
from the bench of shadow to have watched
those scattered lights
that my ignorance has learned no names for
nor their places in constellations,
to have heard the note of water
in the cistern,
known the scent of jasmine and honeysuckle,
the silence of the sleeping bird,
the arch of the entrance, the damp
–these things perhaps are the poem.
–Jorge Luis Borges
The semester’s close is around the corner. This slower week seems to be the last stop before the flying home stretch of due dates, papers, and finals, interrupted only by a few days at home for Thanksgiving.
The past 3 months at school have been far from easy. Reawakening study habits and motivation is like shoving an old locomotive steam engine back to life. In the first few weeks, I scooped only a few coals into the fire. Classes seemed easy; it wasn’t going to be a difficult semester. But the train merely creaked at my efforts and the tracks began to climb. I began shoveling frantically more and more coal– begging, pleading, sweating with the train to speed up. Midterms were coming! It finally took trashcan sized buckets of coal thrown onto the fire to increase the heat enough to get the wheels turning. Five tests in six days did the trick. The engine started smoking; steam began to rise; and the train leaped into life. A ton of coal, a whole lot of effort, and a solid challenge were the key ingredients to get me back into the swing of school and balance of college life. Now the train is rolling.
And it’s going fast. There is never a moment where I am done researching or studying. I see the world fly by behind my back as I aggressively continue to shovel coal. I have to remind myself to continually look up or I will miss all the beauty.
Beauty hides in blatant places. We just have to slow down to catch the incarnations. Light shredded by trees falling in angles across the soft, lacy petals of a flower. The freeing laughs of a friend as we gallantly run across two lanes of traffic. A yellow and black striped spider guarding his threaded kingdom of transparent glory. Scattered city lights from a mountain top view. The underbellies of leaves seen from a hammock hanging from the trunks of trees. A treat waiting in the library by someone who recognized a hard day. The steam of coffee flamenco dancing in the air to the bold aroma of the dark liquid beneath.
Beauty is intangible. We try to grasp what we perceive with our five senses. We see, we hold, we get closer and try to become a part of the beauty in front of us, stepping into the object’s existence that takes away our breath. But we cannot grasp it. We can give it form through art or words. However, the audience perceiving our efforts views our incarnation of beauty through their own lenses of perspective. They do not see the moment that captured you but your perspective of that moment, in their own reality.
This idea fascinates me. It sends me reeling into a philosophy search for heaven on earth and a hunt for others’ realities. Potential perspectives of beauty walk down the sidewalks, sit in class, eat meals with me every day. I want to grab my friend from passing a lamplight, illuminated against the dark blue depths of night sky, and ask her what she sees. And if she doesn’t see, open her eyes to this small moment of glory, this line of poetry, as Borges calls it, in the course of a day.
These glimpses of beauty slow down the racing train of college for a brief few seconds. The air rushes into my lungs and energiezes my mind and brings joy into my soul. I see in the rays of light, in the water droplets, in the morning’s fresh air, God’s hints that something spectacular as yet to come. A beauty that will be tangible and more real than anything I could imagine. A Beauty incarnated in flesh to come back to reign over us and restore this earth to breathless wonder.
I long for this beauty, to see the ocean and mountains and valleys in their perfect state. To walk down the beach, sand between my toes, a sunrise brilliantly declaring the presence of the sky, with my Creator beside me. I don’t know what the next reality will look like, but beauty will be tangible. And I long for it with an ache and awe and excitement that words cannot express.
Oh Beauty, Come quickly. Rend the heavens and come down.