Somewhere in our discussion on the first chapter of John last night, I was asked the question, "So, where do you most often experience those 'thin' places?"
Those 'thin places'...where the things that keep us from seeing God's face - the things that separate us from the heavenly realm where all is right - suddenly cease to form a wholly impenetrable veil and we catch a glimpse of glory.
Glory that makes our souls soar and our minds and bodies free of their fetters... for eternity... within a single moment.
Where are those 'thin places' for me now, that, truth be told, I so often experienced at the clothesline when I was busy raising six shoots?
It took a moment to realize that in this current season of my life, those thin places often come when I am immersed in art: standing, heart struck, in front of a painting or a sculpture, reading a piece of poetry or prose that " gives expression to the truth that has been dumbly struggling in me for utterance” (Oswald Chambers), listening - my soul possessed of ears - to an exquisite instrument or voice, or transfixed by a dancer who is no longer executing forms and steps, but expressing the beauty of God.
I thought about the time I was able to spend - riveted and lost from the earth - standing in front of "Portrait of the Artist's Mother" by James Abbot Whistler.
And I remembered how, when I had to leave it behind, I came to understand, in an instant, what is in the heart of some art thieves.
How like the flow of life is it that I should have finished, just this week, "The Goldfinch" by Donna Tartt, a Pulitzer Prize-winning book with art theft featured in its story line?
And in that story line, these lines describing how a piece of art may affect us:
"...if a painting really works down in your heart and changes the way you see, and think, and feel, you don't think, 'oh, I love this picture because it's universal.' 'I love this painting because it speaks to all mankind.' That's not the reason anyone loves a piece of art. It's a secret whisper from an alleyway. Psst, you. Hey kid. Yes you. ... Yours, yours. I was painted for you."
All this passed through my mind, and some of it crossed my lips, as I tried to answer the question which had been put to me, and then...
This morning I read the February 6 entry (I'm behind and what a blessing!) from "A Year With Rilke" (a blessed gift from my Hair-on-Fire Friend), and Rilke gave me this:
"Things are not nearly so comprehensible and sayable as we are generally made to believe. Most experiences are unsayable; they come to fullness in a realm that words do not inhabit. And most unsayable of all are works of art, which - alongside our transient lives - mysteriously endure."Paris, February 17, 1903 Letters to a Young Poet
And there is the truth.
Things - and God - may not be sayable.
But they are experienceable.
At the clothesline or at the museum...
...there is God.