From her celebrated novel, The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt reveals to her readers how art can and should resonate with us when she writes: “If a painting really works down into your heart and changes the way you see, and think, and feel, you don’t think, ‘oh, I love this picture because it’s universal.’ ‘I love this painting because it speaks to all mankind.’ That’s not the reason anyone loves a piece of art. It’s a secret whisper from an alleyway. ‘Psst, you. Hey kid. Yes you.‘” And I agree with the spirit of Ms. Tartt’s observation, but with me the awakening (as I shall call it) has always been more like a genteel mugging. And I am not talking about art in this post, but about love. That Texas vacation I mentioned in my last post is now in the rear view mirror, so to speak, but those memories – oh, how sweet and savory. Yes, love has a way of congenially sneaking up on you, roughing you up a bit while smoothing out the roughest of edges, inside and out. The alleyway, at that point, becomes more of a incubator.
Fides quaerens intellectum. From the beginning of my genealogical journey, I was animated by faith, and that faith was informed by understanding. Faith, by virtue of its intrinsic nature, seeks understanding. Therefore, after finding the dad who raised me was not my biological father (really don’t like that term), I sought out someone, anyone, who would answer back, and hopefully, guide me in the right direction. What I found out, exactly, is the subject of another post that I may or may not make. But I found many satisfying answers in the trip back to Texas, and the way in which I found them – through amusing, hilarious, and sometimes touching anecdotes and old photographs – was absolutely gratifying. To a person, the family I discovered were unabashedly enthusiastic and unafraid to express their unbridled affection to me and for me. But to ground my thoughts in a more concrete way, I am not talking about some sort of amorphous, touchy feely sort of emotion, though there were plenty of emotions to be had, but love is, of course found in a most complete way in Jesus Christ. I can’t help but be enlightened through love as I continue to seek through faith a more complete understanding. Having loved and been loved (as it all continues), I am daily made more complete – a better man in Christ. Nothing is cold and calculating about this, but neither is it laden with mawkish sentimentality. The mugging was real; love turned me around.
If you know somebody, and you begin to love them, you want to know more about them. That is the case here. Growing up as an only child, I never had the benefit (and struggle) of having siblings around. Now I have cousins aplenty and an aunt and uncle who adore me. I should also point out that my wife has also had a ringside seat to an amazing process so recently begun in her husband. Coming from a large family, she’s always known what I’ve only recently known – family is awesome!
A divine person anchors all of this. As I have already alluded, Jesus is at the center of this. Behind every hug, every kiss, every gladsome tear, every loving promise, every invitation, and all the laughter, is our Lord. The Catechism informs us that we are met with an increasing supply of love as we seek in faith. And it is the heart of Christ, who embraces the world of souls, that we explore (CCC 158).
About the ticket: The picture above is part of a larger note sent to my wife and me by one of my cousins. She, very inventively, chose to create a one-way ticket to her locale. She is a lovely, gentle, and soft-spoken woman of considerable depth, and I am not about to get over the fact that she is only one of the many cousins who desire to bring me closer into the family circle. Simply put, I have way more relations all over Texas than I could ever hope to have, and the ones I have met have only confirmed me in my belief that I have become the most fortunate man on the planet. And while we won’t likely leave our present home to take abode in the great State of Texas, we will return many times to bask in that warm bath of loving acceptance. I suppose if I am going to get mugged by love, it may as well be this way.
One last word: My aunt and uncle are now the closest thing I have to a mom and dad. They are accorded the highest honor possible. What’s more, my loving wife shares in this newfound reality with me and is every bit as happy about it as I! She’s the best! What an overwhelming flood of joy came over me to be embraced by my uncle who openly confessed his love for me with copious tears between him and me. If any prodigal part of me remains (it does) it came home that night. I am so blessed. Thank you Lord.