Stone Block Bench

Reality Check Point #1:
The Cost of Beauty & Grace: A Lecture

By the time the velvety, vibrant-colored flowers reach a Valentine’s Day buyer, most will have been sprayed, rinsed and dipped in a battery of potentially lethal chemicals.
                             —Joshua Goodman, Associated Press

              The Sick Rose
       Oh Rose thou art sick.
       The invisible worm,
       That flies in the night
       In the howling storm:
       Has found out thy bed
       Of crimson joy:
       And his dark secret love
       Does thy life destroy.
              —William Blake

       If the rose is sick, the cause these days is not the invisible worm, but the invisible chemicals that kill the invisible worm.  We want beauty, the brave rose on its long stem, erect, thorns removed, leaves flat, waxy green, surrounded by baby’s breath, innocent but also ready to open—a chaste love that promises more.  No matter the cost.
       We know we live in a careless, polluted, chemical-spray-world of insecticides, herbicides, fertilizers that drain into ground water, waxes that are but glints in a devil’s eye of environmental problems.  And yet we crave beauty.  No matter the cost. 
       Our need for grace is great. We want the young dancer on pointe, as erect as a long-stemmed rose, her lips red, her tight bun invariably blond.  We are amazed at her beauty, her poise.  We do not feel the pinched knot of hair tugging at her scalp.  We do not see the tears she bursts into after long hours at the barre as a master demands more extension.  Nor her feet, tortured into that tiny aperture, toes bruised and bleeding so that she might lift herself onto that solid wood toe, and pirouette for our delight.  We want her grace.  No matter the cost.
       If seated close, if watching her legs, her toes, we might see an almost invisible tremble, a slight imbalance.  We will forgive her, for the pose is impossible, an attempt at beauty made incarnate, human strength taxed inhumanly.  We cannot imagine ourselves, or anyone we know, capable of such intricate posture.  But the longer we admire, the longer the dancer must hold the pose.  She will tremble, and we will watch.  No matter the cost.
       Might beauty and grace be easier, more common, better achieved in imperfections and limits, in trembling and weakness?  The rose is sick, the earth it came from is sick.  The dancer is exhausted, and tortured.  Our desire, made incarnate, is ugly, is a dark secret love that destroys.








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