INITIATION

As a child growing up in rural southern Indiana, my world was very small. I encountered no perspectives other than the rigid viewpoints fed to me in the environment of my family, church, and school.


When I was a young teenager, an old store near my home was converted into an art gallery. One evening as I was wandering around in the vicinity of the gallery, I encountered an elderly artist whose paintings were on display in front of the gallery.


He engaged me in a conversation, which became rather philosophical. I had never met anyone like him before. He began talking to me about the idea of finding beauty in anything. He pointed to a nearby streetlamp whose light was shining down on a pile of garbage at its base. “You can even find the beauty in something like that,” he told me

.

My naïve mind couldn’t help but perceive the metaphor in the scene: the beauty of divine light shining down on the rubble of our human existence.


It felt as if the artist and I were having a profound meeting of the minds, on a level above ordinary communication. I had never experienced anything like that before.


I never learned that artist’s name. I don’t think I ever saw him again. He probably never knew that he opened a door in the mind of a sixteen-year-old, initiating her quest for her own sense of beauty and meaning in life.

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