dona nobis

In response to Jenna St. Hilaire, What’s in Your Heart

I call Pax.

We’ve been engaging in some sprightly webpartee in this blogalectic, Jenna and I, but now something’s happened that doesn’t happen that often. I’m at an utter loss for words.

Reader, I am breathless.

Occasionally, very rarely, I find something that says everything I’d been trying to say, and says it perfectly. I usually don’t find that on the internet. And it’s a different experience, I should add, than when you find something that says what you’d like to say, or would like to try to say, someday. Or says things you never thought of.

No, this was simply exactly what I’d been trying to say. And Jenna said it. Not only did she say it, but she said it with simplicity, elegance, and skill. For sheer poignancy and emotional clarity, I can hardly match it in most things I’ve written. For fluency of language and balancing of style, it’s perfect. For sentiment–

Reader, it is perfect.

I can do little more than urge you, if you haven’t already, read the post. Here is a salient quote, where the delicately built promise of the opening followed through with a bold and decisive thrust:

I need this defence [that an individual’s art is part of healing the world] to be true. I need it because today, much as I wanted to drive out to see Mom and my sister and my niece, I stayed home to put several hours of dedicated time into novel, to finish a short story, to post a blog, and to start catching up on email. I need all that work to mean something, because otherwise I gave up precious time with some of the people I love most on earth.

So what does it mean—all this pouring of time into the creation of worlds from words? What exactly do I have to offer this world by writing a novel against ridiculous odds, keeping up a tiny aspiring-writer blog, making amateur music, and all this other writers’ art?
We all have one thing to offer: what’s in our hearts.

Which, perhaps, translates into some of the same needs that drive us both to enjoy art and to create it: order from chaos, hope from despair, light amid darkness, healing from destruction. Something to believe in when the world is incomprehensible.

That’s my philosophy of art, right there.

What can I say? Only that the rest of the article is, if possible, even better, even more moving. And say what, I think, I’ve already said.

John hosts The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond because he wants you to believe all these things. And he wants to believe them, too.

I lower my foil, and bow in the presence of a master.

3 thoughts on “dona nobis

  1. I’m not sure what to say to that except “Thank you. Excellent game, sir.”

    “John hosts The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond because he wants you to believe all these things. And he wants to believe them, too.”

    And that is why I am a faithful subscriber to your blog. It expresses much of what I believe and long to believe about art.

    Now that we’ve discovered agreement on artistic philosophies, maybe we’ll have to start back on the rules of writing or something. 🙂

  2. An inspiring and thoughtful post, both of you. It expresses so much of what is in my heart and, I believe, in the hearts of many artists. Thank you for continuing to believe, and in so doing, continuing to create that which moves us. It reminded me of a quote I heard second hand: “There is too much pain and to much beauty in the world to ever be bored again”. It is amazing to me how often those two elements go hand in hand. Keep writing…for it does heal the world.

  3. Speaking of healing the world, your post title “dona nobis” drew my mind to Vaughan Williams “Dona Nobis Pacem”. My favorite movement is “Reconciliation”, set to the Walt Whitman poem of the same name. I found a recording on YouTube for those unfamiliar with it. The entire work (for orchestra and symphonic choir) is well worth a listen, but I thought this particular movement would be fitting for anyone wanting to take the time…

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