Thursday, November 18, 2010

"A Thing of Beauty..."

"... Is a Joy Forever."

So said Edith Schaeffer. What a useful reminder this has been to me, over the years, when I'm tempted not to buy something, or spend time doing something, because it was only beautiful, and not practical. Beauty is, in and of itself, useful to living.  One fleeting look at a beautiful thing can bring joy for years and years. Beauty sticks in the memory.

I think I showed you our first camellia blossom last year.  Here is this year's.  It's much earlier, Adam says.  I wonder what that indicates about our coming winter? 
He handed me the flower while I was having my devotions this morning, jotting down my thoughts in this little book. Did I show you this before?  This little leather volume I bought over a year ago, at the Renaissance Festival -- all hand-made. I kept it for so long, not wanting to write in it, wanting to keep it for some Very Special Writing.  Phooey! I've enjoyed using it as I read the book of Jeremiah lately. I'm glad I gave in!
It has a leather strap to close it securely. Isn't leather beautiful?  It's rather hard to remind myself that it was once the warm skin on a living animal. I suppose in the New Earth we won't have leather, since it requires the death of something, to get it. A sobering thought. What other beautiful things do we enjoy, because something died?
I put the camellia in water, in the kitchen window.  She looks happier there.
Today I knitted another dish rag -- an "ugly rag," I call it :) So much for "things of beauty"!! Look closely.  See that aberrant row of purl stitches?  Oops! I looked askew at that row, reminded myself that it's only a dish rag, and didn't even bother to pull it out.  20 years ago, I could never have left it there;  it would have bothered me until I undid it. How a woman can change, after a husband, four kids, and a life of trials! I'm more mellow.
I can just hear those rows of knit stitches: "Ugh! Get this purl row out of here! We don't want him! He's a mistake."
Well, if you turn the rag over, you see that the purl rows can offer up the same complaint! "This knit row is all wrong! We don't want him!"
And of course, BOTH would be right.  One man's sunset is another man's sunrise, just around the globe. I don't mean to lapse into some kind of relativism, but it is useful to remember that, depending on perspective, things can look very different -- even antithetical! How can two people BOTH be right, when they seem on opposite sides of an issue?  Well, perhaps they're not really opposite each other, so much as two sides of a coin, a sunrise and a sunset,  a knit and a purl.

If an ugly dish rag can offer wisdom, is it a thing of beauty after all?


  1. What a fine example of beauty your camellia blossom is! Sorry, but I have to credit John Keats for originating that sentiment, which opens his poem, "Endymion": "A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
    / Its loveliness increases; it will never / Pass into nothingness; but still will keep /
    A bower quiet for us, and a sleep /
    Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing."

    Having just visited the Grove Park Inn yesterday to see the entries in this year's gingerbread house competition, I was struck by the amount of time that goes into creating works that are truly beautiful but inherently transient. . . .

  2. Ah - thank you for that correction! Schaeffer was one of my mother's favorite writers, and this quote was used by her in her book, "Hidden Art," I think. I never read it. And, you know, I had just recently read that very Keats quote you mention -- and I'd already forgotten it! Where did I read it? That will bother me until I remember :)

    The Grove Park houses are fabulous. I got to see them once. Stunning artistry.


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