Chiaroscuro – Thoughts on the Darkest Day of the Year

It’s the art of seeking good that is the art of seeking God for others. But without grace the search stifles. Grace is the stickler here.

Admittedly, the impact of my early childhood days when I asked the nun at the black chalkboard where she had drawn a milk bottle (yes, I am old enough to identify with fresh milk delivery at the front door) half-way colored with the white chalk, “Exactly what is God?” and she replied, “God is you.  God is me.  God is everywhere.”

She turned her black and white draped body to the black board and pointed to the chiaroscuro sketch and added, “But without grace God is only half seen.”

Okay, that was an esoteric answer for an 8-year-old.  But it gave me pause to define and consider. At this time my life was a study in chiaroscuro—a strong contrast between light and dark–good and bad. Solace often came from sitting alone in a stained-glass reflected hollow church before I had to return home.  Home contrasted the silent peace of the church with the expletive drenched roar of dysfunctional adults.

There was nothing I could do to change this reality. I sought grace (peace) through words and imaginary worlds.

My hair is now grey and lines run from the corner of my eyes. My home brings peace and I still seek grace.  Sometimes grace is mine. Sometimes grace belongs to others.  It’s not constant.   Grace seems tenuous and oft used hypocritically.  Chiaroscuro continues within and without.

Can I turn these contrasts into the colorful blends found in rainbows? Did Sister Mary Catherine have the coded answer?  Good is you.  Good is me.  Good is everywhere.

This meditation of black and white to rainbows and grace brought me to a French artist Georges Henri Rouault born in 1871, who painted my thoughts with these words,

“Nothing is old, nothing is new, save the light of grace underneath which beats a human heart. The way of feeling, of understanding, of loving; the way of seeing the country, the faces that your father saw, that your mother knew.  The rest is chimerical.”

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