Sunday, April 22, 2012

Postcards From Florence

I have started packing my desk.

I will be moving it from my current home office to the office/den/bedroom in our new place. It will be interesting to see how the new arrangement works out.

Lippi - The Disposition
Lippi - The Disposition 
My desk is a simple, table like affair with a number of cubby holes at the back, some narrow and vertical, others are wide horizontal shelves. All are crammed with things I have felt the needed organize. Most of the items disappeared from my memory the moment they were placed there.

Bernini - Ecstasy of Saint Therese
Bernini - Ecstasy of Therese

As I emptied the compartments one by one, I assessed each item, then placed it in a box to be moved, placed it in a bag to be donated or placed in a bag to thrown in the trash. (It's surprising how much of the stuff was in category three) 

In one of the cubbies, I found a glassine envelope containing postcards we bought at the gift shop in the Academy of the Arts in Florence. The cards were reproductions of some of the art we had seen during our trip to Italy.
Bonaguida - The Tree of Life
Bonaguida - The Tree of Life

We arrived in Florence on day eight of a ten day trip that took us to Rome, Assisi, Orvieto, Sienna and Perugia as well.  By the time we arrived in Florence, we had overdosed on beauty. It was difficult to absorb one more beautiful painting, one more incredible building or stunning sculpture.

Now, two years later, I stumble upon these postcards and have a second chance to absorb what I couldn't when I had the chance to see these works of art in person.

The postcards are now sitting on my desk waiting for me to figure out what to do with them. They don't belong in a desk drawer and I can't bear to throw them away. Where and how they might fit into the environment at our new house remains to be seen.

For now, the postcards serve to remind me how much we want to go back. After two years we are ready to absorb more beauty. We are ready for second helpings of Giotto and gelato.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Resurrection Round Up

It's Easter, so you would expect Catholic Bloggers to be discussing Christ and the importance of the resurrection to the Catholic faith.

But folks are having to work a bit harder this year since a theme popping up in the mainstream culture this season is a vision of Christ without all that messy divine mumbo-jumbo.

First, take a look at what Craig Bernthal is writing over at Huron County Extract. In this post he discusses the importance of the resurrection and his response to "liberal" christians who assert that Christ's teachings are what is important, that his divinity is not.

Next, Check out Father Robert Barron's response  to Andrew Sullivan's recent article "Christianity In Crisis" in which Sullivan suggests that we forget about religion and focus directly on Christ's teachings.

Finally, Peter Sean Bradley over at Lex Communis in his Radio Free Aquinas podcast, discusses the recent writings of Bart Ehrman. Ehrman asserts that although Jesus existed as a historical figure, that the Bible was wrong about the resurrection.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Getting Back on Track For Lent

The tracks across the street from my house

Lent was going great until week five. Among my intentions for Lent were to abstain from alcohol, to fast and diet (to lose about 15 pounds), and to read all the Flannery O'Connor short stories.

The first four weeks went well. I was down ten pounds, about half way through the 500+ pages of the O'Connor stories and drank only on Debbie's birthday and Saint Patrick's day.

Then week five hit.

We went into escrow on a new house. If you had asked me if I ever planned to move again on Ash Wednesday, I would have told you no. Lots of life changes have occurred since then (But that's another post.) 

Then there was the unexpected house guest, the unexpected family get together that I hosted as a result, the unexpected road trip last weekend ending with a night out to celebrate multiple birthdays.

No time to read, the diet went out the window and the events of the weekend called for a drink (or three).

So was my Lenten experience a failure? No. Not really. Monday came and I resumed my fast, I read one of the longest of Flannery O'Connor's short stories, and avoided the temptation to have a night cap. 

This year, I chose some challenging observances for Lent. I have retained my commitment to the goals and intend to keep going beyond Easter. It may take me until mid April to finish the stories. It may be the end of April before I loose the 15 pounds and I suspect that the few weeks of successful abstinence from alcohol will lead long term moderation.

I am confident that I will look back on Lent 2012 as a great success. I have learned a lot about life and faith from O'Conner (Although I may never be able to articulate why or how) and I have learned a bit about myself as well. 

And I have learned as much from stumbling as I have from staying on track.