As I walked the Camino, I found within myself a longing for beauty. Mile after mile passed beneath my feet and I made commitments to myself about how I would like to live my post-Camino life.
Read poetry every day.
Look at new artwork.
Listen to classical music.
All of those commitments and ideas didn’t translate as neatly into my reality as I had hoped. In the rush of the daily grind, it is difficult to intentionally set aside time to experience beauty. Most days, my taste of beauty happens when I remind myself to take in the fall foliage before winter sets in. But an intentional pursuit of beauty? Generally, that is non-existent.
Last night, I flipped through a book of poems entitled Poems You Ought to Know. My English degree (with a concentration in British and American Literature) meant that I recognized most of the names in the table of contents. Some of the poem names even sounded familiar, but few were ones I could stop and say, “Oh, I love this one!”
Edgar Allan Poe’s “Annabel Lee” was there and I recalled that in college I taught a lesson on this to a classroom of high schoolers during an education class. It is a beautiful poem, I think, even with the natural morbidity found in Poe’s works. The poetic devices that I had reviewed with the class came to mind dimly.
It makes me wonder why I don’t read poetry like my heart desires. Why do I not sit down and read a Shakespearean sonnet in the evening? Why don’t I learn about the famous classical composers? Why don’t I use the gift of the internet to virtually explore art museums and learn about the different periods in art history? I desire it. Why don’t I do it?
Because it is easier to not. Continue reading “A Beauty Filled Life”
When I started college, I wanted to be a high school English teacher. I have loved reading since elementary school and I wanted to encourage others to love reading, too. Along with reading, I also enjoyed writing. With these two loves, I assumed teaching English would be a fitting career.
The second semester of my freshman year of college found me taking a Theology class. Since I had exclusively attended public school growing up, this was my first formal Theology class. Other students who had attended Catholic schools didn’t seem as impressed as I was with the class. Simply praying before a math class at college was an exciting concept for me. Reading encyclicals and Church documents? That was a complete thrill and I remember marveling at how accessible I found them.
After this introductory class, I was hooked.
I kept slipping extra Theology classes into my schedule. Until, finally, my adviser asked what I was doing. My heart wanted a Theology degree simply because it meant I could study more about what the Church thought and did. So I dropped my Education major and paired my English major with Theology. While I still loved reading and writing, I knew that I could never be quite as passionate about English as I could be about Theology.
Even with a Theology degree and a day full of teaching Theology classes, it still satisfies a desire of my heart when I can sit down and read good theological works. Whether they are more dogmatic or more spiritual, I find the truths they speak to be balm for my soul. I read Bishop Conley’s address to a group of Catholic school educators and administrators and I found myself underlining several points. Bishop Conley said, “If you want authentically Catholic culture, you need authentically Catholic schools.” This makes me applaud and then question, “How?” Hearing about the faith is enlightening and joyous for me. Learning about my role as a Catholic educator is inspiring. It fills me with truths I know to be solid.
Despite the length of time I have spent on Theology (the beauty and the teaching of it), the inspiration for this post is not Theology. Rather, it was in conversation with a co-worker that I realized that while theological reading is beautiful and soul-lifting, so is literature. Continue reading “Avenues to My Heart”