The Bowery by Theodore
Whenever I see a plastic bag dancing in the wind, which is regrettably often, I remember a line from the movie American Beauty:
That’s the day I realized that there is this, entire life behind things. And this incredibly benevolent force that wanted me to know there is no reason to be afraid, ever….But it helps me remember. I need to remember. Sometime’s there’s so much beauty in the world, I feel like I can’t take it, and my heart is just going to cave in.
This quote helps me remember something I need to remember, that beauty surrounds us. Ricky Fitts (the character that says the line) was able to look beyond the bag and see the divine. For Ricky, the bag was not just one of the five hundred billion plastic bags that are produced each year in this world, it was not one more piece of trash; it was a window into that which unites us all.
I need to remember that there is beauty in the world because I seldom see it. It is difficult, if not impossible, to see beauty in the face of sexism, homophobia, racism and the other forms of injustice that diminish and belittle life, therefore degrading the imago dei, the image of God, that is in us all. But what I need to remember, what we need to remember, is that even in the midst of injustice beauty persists as the universe dances a ballet to the symbiotic symphony we call life.
The work that we have set before us is not to make the ugliness of injustice beautiful by covering it up; by no means. The work we have set before us is to reach for the true aesthetic, the imago dei, the ground of our being, by reaching out and working towards the kindom of God. “The Bowery” speaks to me because it forces me to confront the ugliness of life and remember to strive for beauty. It is a song about people living in despair, people that have lived lives that a “priest would call sin”. Justin Kinkel-Schuster sings, “The priests never go to the places she’s been. If they did, how could heaven exist?” We must admit, as religious leaders, there are a number of places that we have not been and moreover we seek to avoid. How could heaven exist? Through beauty, truth, and justice.
Will you go to the places where heaven does not exist?
Will you bring beauty to those that have only known repulsiveness?
Will you go to the Bowery?