Tuesday, March 15, 2011

a short walk

Way past tired at a mere 9pm, Daylight Savings kicking all our asses as usual, everyone dragging.

And yet it rained today, and I was out in it. I walked fifteen minutes in what was admittedly a mere sprinkle, barely a shower; and ate my chipotle turkey wrap from the coffee shop as I walked. Late back from the bank, heading for the office. Failing in my Lenten resolve not to shop until Easter, I stopped at the Saks discount and spent what I shouldn't have on a pair of cropped pants (Seven for All Mankind, striped Eighties denim), and two tops (one lacy black Juicy, one tie-dyed gray - I know it's spring, but my wardrobe is comfortably composed of black separates.) I concealed my purchases in my purse and juggled my sandwich as I crossed the railroad tracks in the rain, hood up. Considering how long it seems to have taken this Spring to arrive, it was a sublime few minutes.

The melting snowbanks reveal their archeological layers, and the first rains of March wash the accumulated carbon grit and sand down the brimful storm sewers. This reminds me of a song that I love, "Waters of March" by David Byrne and Marisa Monte (here).Yet is also reminds me of Japan, of Sendai, and the unstoppable waters of tsunami. "A drip, a drop, the end of the trail."

I can't help myself -- the longer I walk (and it's been years), the longer I look, the more the wrack and ruin of city streets appeals. The dirtier, the better. I would like to start carrying rubber gloves in my purse so I can lift up the tattered, mud-caked layers of the anonymous world, and rinse them off, and make a city quilt of them all. Gloves because while I love to see the streets I don't especially want all that under my fingernails. I think though again of Sendai, of Japan, and the acres of lost belongings and torn-apart things once cherished, and desolate filth -- the wrack, and the ruin. And I think (in spite of myself) look at the photos of the burning house floating down a river of mud and tree roots -- look at the wasteland of rice fields strewn with buckets and corrugated metal and a boot and a book and some twisted cotton shirts -- look at the sad bright child in his only coat clinging to his mother's back as she picks through what's left of her seaside home -- LOOK. Even in suffering, everything God made is beautiful. Christ ease their suffering. And forgive me for looking, when perhaps I really ought to look away.  

I went to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts for Art Adventures training last week, and was treated to a lengthy docent tour of certain works while learning how to talk to children about these -- Picasso, Tanguay, and several others, learning how to elicit thoughts and interpretations only, not to judge, not to historicize -- only to treat children to the pleasure of consuming with their eyes and realizing with their imaginations the creative process, the narrative of thoughts and marks and colors and shapes, the interpretations of the world around us. It was a privilege.

It makes me want to look at the rest of the water-logged world this way.

What do you see? What do you think is happening here? What's going on in this picture? Yes. Yes, that, and what else?

Frame the neighborhood with fingers and thumb in a square, the old L-7. What's going on in this picture?

Thank God for Spring. Protect Japan from the worst depths of possible suffering. We rejoice, and tears fall.

1 comment:

Clarence said...

I went for a walk in that rain, too. I thought, in this cold drizzle, is this supposed to be spring? Is this my relief from winter?

I was meeting a friend for coffee, walking a walk that was taking much longer than I thought it would. She picked me up half way and we made our way to the shop.

We had the most important converstation of our 12+ years since we met and made the 11-year gap in our connection almost full.

The sun came out later, while we sat by the large window of the coffee shop. Maybe this was the spring that I was waiting for, even with the crimy patches of snow that made it hard to park in the spot next to the shop. Maybe this is the spring that will come to Japan in time.

How long does it take for that patch of sunshine to travel across the globe?