Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My Mother would often wake up at 3am. I would sometimes be woken up by her dull smoker's cough and the sound of her poking the fire. She wrote poems. Notebooks filled with poems about killdear, Kmart, San Francisco, and our gray barn. When I was 7 she published these poems in a book, Pale Ponies. For years I gave copies out to teachers and I wrote poems "like my Mom." We could both be undone by a lack of praise. My Mom wrote poems and songs; painted and sketched. Yet, she didn't have the nerve to promote herself and often suffered from the lack of admiration. We are often cruel about the works of beauty that others produce. The "great artists" find a patron that is pleased with their power to possess this beauty. But how many ineffable pieces of beauty have rotted in old barns, been painted over, been tossed aside, or destroyed by their own creator. To know that virtue is not always rewarded, that beauty is not always praised, that wisdom is often scorned is part and parcel of adjusting to the world as it lies. Although, genius tend to demand acknowledgment regardless, spurred on by the belief that if the goodness is great enough, the talent audacious enough, that it will succeed. And, who am I to question that such will often does breed success?

But, beauty is often treacherous. This is what I think when I am told sanctimoniously about our need to replicate the creativity of God; that artistic production is good for us, for everyone. Creativity is close to our source and because of this there is danger in bringing it to the surface. Creativity is not just force it is also fragility.

I wouldn't want this to stop anyone from creating things. But, all truly good things exact a cost. Creativity is not any cheaper than love or grace. Our offer of creativity, like our offer of love, requires that we rely ultimately on grace.

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