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Sentimentalism

We hear of the stark sentimentalist, who talks as if there were no problem at all: as if physical kindness would cure everything: as if one need only pat Nero and stroke Ivan the Terrible. This mere belief in bodily humanitarianism is not sentimental; it is simply snobbish. For if comfort gives men virtue, the comfortable classes ought to be virtuous—which is absurd. Then, again, we do hear of the yet weaker and more watery type of sentimentalists: I mean the sentimentalist who says, with a sort of splutter, “Flog the brutes!” or who tells you with innocent obscenity “what he would do” with a certain man—always supposing the man’s hands were tied. – G.K. Chesterton

‘Tis interesting this beautiful thought of Gilbert.  In one in the same statement, he says violent men and passive sentimentalists come from the same tree, namely ignorance of the human person.  Man is not merely the sentiment connected with human physical contact, not to deny its power, only to mitigate the popular belief in its power.  Nor does man need to be degraded as an ignonmous idiot worth nothing more than torture.

Man is worthy of being contemplated not for his own sake but to see that he is not the root of his existence or the power by which he lives.  He is immediately and brokenly contigent.  He requires both discipline and loving sentiment to become virtuous, insodoing he moves towards being fully human.

Cardinal Ber …. Oooo! a Squirrel!

Distraction is an interior fracture.  it will never lead the person to encounter himself, for it impedes him from looking into the mirror of his heart. Collecting oneself is the beginning.” – Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio (Pope Francis)

Odds are you are reading this on an electronic device. (If you’re not, please let me know who printed my writing without my permission.) Technology has been so great in helping provide society with great advancement. It allows for the immediate distribution of information. It allows one to acquire new knowledge at a much lower base cost. It admits for global communication, which means both communicating from one side of the globe to the other and communicating to a great mass of people. We find ourselves on our phones, tablets, and computers. More than any other time in history do we have a critical mass of distraction. Our phones notify us when our Trivia Crack opponent (people still play Trivia Crack right?) responds to his questions. It informs us of breaking news, an @ mention on Twitter, a like on Facebook, a comment on an Instagram photo, a weather warning, and the group texts between a group of friends who beating an inside joke to death. In fact, Dr. Taylor Marshall has said that each person we follow on Twitter, each friend of Facebook vies for our attention. “Read my post!” “Listen to ME!” “Look at me!” It’s like putting every single person you know in your pocket.

According to their statistics, there are 300 hours of video uploaded to Youtube every minute. Each, or most, vie for our attention when we go to see a grumpy cat video. Then, there are all those little games on our phone to occupy us in line at the grocery store. We score those little points here and there. We surpass this friend here, beat that friend in a game of intellect there. Then, there are the actual video game systems that can distract us for longer amounts of time until the next time we have a responsibility. Amidst all of this noise that is constantly being pushed upon us, our consciousness resembles Tokyo or Las Vegas, where lights are so bright that even the night feels like day.

Cardinal Bergoglio, in a conversation with Rabbi Abraham Skorka*, peers into this seeming perpetual motion with an insight coming from a place of rest. He calls distraction an interior fracture. It slowly disables our interior from functioning properly. Each distraction is its own micro-fracture slowly weakening the structure both of our intellect and our spirit. It prevents us from looking into the mirror of our hearts, he says. We do not even enter the bedroom to peer at the mirror.

Looking back into my own life, I can attest to this. The more I succumbed to distraction from my phone the harder it was for me to reflect, the harder it was to meditate, and the harder it was to contemplate. Part of the effectiveness of retreats, I found, was that I freed myself from distraction in so doing allowing myself to hear both the movements of my own heart and the movement of the Spirit with my heart.

In days gone by, the pace of life and the lack of immediate distractions gave the greater space for reflection and prayer. From this came beautiful poetry, art, literature (imagine Jane Austen writing Pride and Prejudice with an iPhone sitting next to her, nope she’d been all up on Pintrest.), and powerful mysticism. At the risk of assuming to much about you, my reader, we live in the relative economic ease that Jane Austen experienced, but unlike her, we so fill our time with distractions that our great creations are … memes (excuse my cynicism).

Because we no longer have the luxury of limited distraction, unless you are cloistered or a mountain man, we have to make intentional distraction-free time for the building up of our intellects, hearts, souls, and sanity. I recall a conversation I had with some fellow bloggers a few years ago about using the iPad for prayer. It’s so filled with distractional possibilities it can, by its nature, nearly sabotage prayer, especially if you are as unvirtuous as myself.

Although it might be that you started reading this post as a distraction, I invite you, challenge you even to close the browser, app, or tablet and sit for a few moment in silence away from dings and chirps and closer to your your heart and the heart of God.

*On Heaven and Earth

image by Alex Valentine

Jimmy Fallon and the Comedy of Personhood

If you’ve spent more than 2 hours on Facebook a week, it’s likely one of your ‘friends’ has posted a video from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. He has take over the video-waves with a brilliant social media strategy that, fortunately for him, has the support of those in power at NBC. Although I am not usually awake when he airs, much less watching TV, I have been well introduced to his later night antics via Youtube.

I’ll be honest with you. I have fallen prey to the Lay’s syndrome as played out on Youtube. You can’t watch just one. So I have found myself, a few times, rolling through clip after clip of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Some of the lip-sync battles he has with his guests, although staged, still have this joy and goofiness that are Fallon’s trademarks. I particularly like how Fallon and his writers aren’t trying to be like their predecessors. He is paving his own path.

No one will expect from Jimmy Fallon the incisive yet comedic style of George Carlin. He won’t have the introverted comedic insight of Jerry Seinfeld. His humor won’t be the over-the-top physicality of Will Ferrell. Fallon is a goofy guy, who delights in the goofiness of others. He’s somewhat awkward and can never keep a straight face. What he has realized is that his comedy feeds off of others. I don’t know if it was because of his many years at SNL, but he’s at his best when he’s reacting to other people. His guest conversation seem less staged than Leno, but to, he find his stride when there’s a game.

You can tell he’s a competitive guy. When he’s playing a games of Catchphrase, Charades, or Pictionary, I’m usually on the floor because I’ve laughed so hard I cried and cried till I’ve fallen. What’s so great about these games is that he’s finding humor in the regular personalities in these ‘irregular’ people, i.e. Entertainment Tonight superstars. He’s revealing to his studio, TV, and internet audiences that these are normal people who make normal mistakes just like you and me. He’s, in a sense, demythologizing stardom, revealing that these idols are just persons. What makes it even bettter is that he is delighting in their personhood. He’s isn’t treating them like stars. He’s completely comfortable playing Pictionary with Jennifer Aniston, Lenny Kravitz, and CeeLo Green (that video is worth a watch because we all have a teammate like CeeLo). He looks at, speaks with, and delights in their quirks and little weaknesses. He is showing to his audience in a subtle way, the cult of stardom is misplaced. He’s also showing to the starts, yes, you can be treated normal in this overly public life of yours. You don’t have to hold this façade of perfection. You can acknowledge you are bad at guessing random words or drawing pictures.

It is also refreshing to see a comedian who, instead of constantly berating the mistakes and foibles of stars, uses his humor to show that they will always make mistakes. He de-romantizes them. None of these people are perfect, despite what the makeup department can do. Whereas the former comedy seems heavy, harsh, and condescending: “hey look at this person whom you thought was perfect. Well they aren’t. Point and laugh.” Fallon’s humor says, “Let’s delight in the fact that this person is human, and being human is rather comical.”

Overcome with Paschal Joy

Happy Easter. It was a long and arduous Lent. Now we have just finished this 8 day celebration of one day and an entire celebration of one event. Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. I don’t know about you, but this gets me super excited. I just want to dance and shout and overall look foolish. What was sadness has become joy. In and through Christ rising from the dead, WE HAVE ETERNAL LIFE. We have the great promise of the joy of heaven.

So often in the ending of Lent our merely comes from returning to that thing that we gave up, but that joy won’t last. Because the thing we gave up, won’t last either. Joy in being given eternity last much longer because eternity in joy lasts.

Over the course of the Octave of Easter, I, with every other priest around the world, was prayer the First Preface of Easter. It captures exactly what I’m trying to say.

It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation
at all times to acclaim you, O LORD,
but on this day to laud you yet more gloriously
when Christ our Passover has been sacrificed.
For He is the true Lamb
who has taken away the sins the world;
by dying, He has destroyed our death,
and by rising restored our life.
Therefore, OVERCOME WITH PASCHAL JOY,
every land, every people exults in your praise
and even the heavenly Powers, with the angelic hosts,
sing together the unending hymn of your glory,
as they acclaim.

Easter gives us the trust and best opportunity to be overcome by joy. No matter the circumstance you find yourself, good or bad, cause for joy or cause for sorrow. Let the joy of the Resurrection and what that act means for us permeate your heart. This joy will be for eternity.

Writers Read and Readers Write

A friend of mine has a blog by the title of Writers Read and Readers Write. That phrase has stuck with me since she started it. I want to affirm her statement as true.

The past six months have been the driest time for me in reading since I willing picked up a book to read in 4th grade. Reading is something that I love. I started this blog to share with others the great things I was reading. I enjoyed writing about the insights from what I was reading in seminary both for class and outside of it. School  was a place that fostered it and I devoured books (sometimes our of necessity for research). Now that I am in the real world outside of the rigor of academic life; I have found reading diminish, to my sorrow, not just in theological works but in novels as well. I can feel myself loosing my edge because of it.

You see, creativity is often sparked by the creativity of another. Plato to Aristotle. Stevie Wonder to Alicia Keys. Classical Greek sculpture to Michelangelo. Neo-Gothic architecture to Antoni Gaudí’s La Sagrada Familia. (Yes, I’m comfortable putting Keys alongside Aristotle, Michelangelo, and Gaudí.) It is no different in literature. The wit of Shakespeare was anteceded by Chaucer and earlier playwrights. Despite many writers having new styles, like Hemingway, Twain, or Goethe; all were familiar with older styles and so knew what their deviation meant. Even Goethe though stood on the shoulders of the old story of the doctor Faustus.

My travel through the biblio-desert has consequently stunted my creativity. I have had no imaginative stimulation and so my own words have bone dry. I fave found myself a victim of my own exile from thought. I now know what if eels like not to read, like so many people who find the practice detestable except in 140 characters or 500 word news posts. It is a horrible way to live. My desire to read and therefore write has grown greatly during this Lenten time. Oddly enough, the self-imposed desert of fasting has revealed the desert state in which I was already living. So, here begins a new discipline from which I hope will spring new words, thoughts, ideas, songs, blog posts, and books.

“As a deer longs for running streams, so my soul longs for You my God.” “Parched lifeless and without water,” I will be no more. I will drink freely of the great cultural heritage we have in the English written word, in poetry, theology, philosophy (mostly translated, but still!) and literature. From that will spring what I hope will be things you will enjoy reading yourself.

Parker Duofold (or How a Pen Can Reveal the Unconditional Generosity of God)

In the previous part of my “pen” series, I reflected on the gift and the joy of writing letters. It has drawn me closer to a unique community of people who collect and use fin writing instruments. I have connected with one particular gentleman named Peter through Instagram. He sent the first letter and I was surprised to find attached to the letter some beautiful paper with which I could continue the correspondence. looking back now I too that gift for granted. I thought it a nice gesture from a new pal, and nothing else. I responded to him and sent my small little letter to Peter 3/4 of the way across the world to the mysterious place called Australia.

Time moved on, days passed, other letter to other pen pals were written. Then, one day I receive a package in the shape of a pen box. My first thought was, “I don’t remember ordering a pen.” As sometimes can happen in the life of a pen addict, I figured I have forgotten about a quick purchase from eBay of some cheap Chinese pen. Then, I noticed the Australian postage and Peter’s name on the return address label. I wondered what it could be? So I open up the package and there before me was a pen box that says Parker. My mind began to wonder, “What’s inside?” I open the box to find a gorgeous black Parker Duofold with Gold trim. Barrel Bands

Now rewind to a month or two previous, my original pen pal and I were discussing on Instagram our dream pens, our Grail pens as they are called. These are the pens that are beyond our budgetary constraints and would need to be saved up for or are wholly impossible or impractical to buy. The first pen on my list was part of the latter, a Montblanc Albert Einstein Limited Edition pen, which is both stunning and costs about the amount of a down payment on a car. My #2 pen was the Parker Duofold, which, to me, was and still is, the quintessential classy fountain pen. It is larger. It is sleek, and yet with the gold trim still a little showy. It just oozes class.

Much to my surprise, I found this very pen before me. I read and reread the attached letter due to my shock. I took me a good ten to fifteen minutes to glean a reason why he would send me such an extravagant gift. Finally, I found a small paragraph toward the end of the letter where Peter explained his reasoning. He saw it on my Grail list and had resolved to give it to me.

I’m not going to lie, and you may think me both crazy and overly emotional, but I cried. I was overwhelmed by such a great gift, but I was even more overwhelmed by the generosity of the giver. I deserved no such gift. We have not even become that close exchanging a mere letter each. He did it out of great generosity of heart.

I cried also because I realized that Peter was imaging to me the unconditional generosity of the Father. This is how the Father loves me. He gives me extravagant gifts. He showers graces on me which I do not deserve. He knows what I truly desire, and He set things up that I may receive what I desire.

Peter even showed me how the Lord prepares my heart. He gives me smaller gifts, like the paper, to expand my heart to receive His love even more. He knows I won’t be able to receive well, without a larger heart, He who is infinite.

Never did I think that correspondence would evoke such a reflection on God’s unconditional love. Never did I enter this correspondence journey hoping for so great a gift. Yet, there I was a grown man crying over a pen. At least it wasn’t a sniffly snotty cry.

Reflections on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

When I started seeing people, famous or otherwise, taking part in the ALS Challenge. I thought it was a new social media fad, and in a sense, it still is. I went from some people to all kinds of people with all different understandings of the disease. A few things I noticed about this particular fad. It made people feel good (in an emotional way, freezing cold water is never pleasant). They felt they were taking part in something large and beyond their minimal contribution. They got to participate in at least a lazy activism. What stuck out most was how many didn’t mention the detriment of ALS and the difficulties it causes families. It seemed the “feel good” was more important that the point of the challenge. Ultimately, I felt I was watching a national vainglory.

I knew, because the nature of my public life, I would eventually get challenged, thankfully it was by a parishioner.  I couldn’t not respond, if not for respect to New Orleans hero Steve Gleason, who has publicly struggled with the disease for the last few years. So I wanted to do something different and helpful. Certainly, many fellow Catholics have mentioned Fr. Michael Duffy’s post of the moral difficulties with the challenge.  I felt the needed to share that. It seemed to me that it would be most effective to enter into a small piece of solidarity with our brothers and sisters who suffer from this disease. It came to me to take away, even for a brief time, my ability to move, to be tied to a chair, which do to me never having older brothers, has never happened before. The gag was that I was going to donate but not do the childish Ice Bucket thing.

I saw the Ice Bucket pour as childish. Why would that be that way to create awareness for ALS? It is quite comical ice water buckets and humans because so many things can go wrong (and go wrong they do). The deeper I thought the only answer I could find was in the fact that the cold war freezes your nerves even for a few seconds giving the sensation, or lack thereof, that ALS patients experience, so dousing yourself with frigid water is a small act of solidarity. Being tied to my chair, I could not move after being poured on with primarily ice (the facilities manager would have it no other way). So I was stuck unable to move. And I’m not going to lie, I was afraid. I was afraid I would freeze to death in Southern Louisiana on mid-August morning. You can notice that I yell untie out of fear. Only if I moved and got my blood flowing would I be able to recover from that frozen bath.

Later this morning, as I took a warm shower that moment came back to me. That’s what ALS patients feel all the time. As much as they would want to get up and move, they can’t. I could get up, be untied, walk around, complain about the chill by talking and laughing my ridiculous laugh. Men and women like, Steve Gleason cannot. It left me very grateful for the gift that I have to still have full neural control of my muscles (except when I trip).

Lastly, I invite you, dear reader, to pray for those who are suffering with ALS. I can image how easy it would be to lose hope, especially in a society that values so highly productivity. They are in need of our prayers and need of the grace to unite the physical and emotional suffering to the cross. Pray also for their families who have to undergo a large lifestyle change to take care of their loved one.

 

Personal Correspondence (or My Story of Why I Write Letters)

I had a good friend as a young child. She and I would do everything together. We would play Ghostbusters and imagine catching ghosts in our respective house. We would play Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and fight off Shredder and the foot with the most deft of karate moves untrained 5 year olds could muster. She was unequivocally my best friend, as 5 year old friendships went. Then her father was transferred to the mysterious place called Iowa. Even at our young age, we promised to keep in touch by writing each other (texting and social media were not an option). We probably wrote 3-4 letters to each other over the course of a year. Then, we stopped writing, for no relational reason; we didn’t have a letter fight, we just fell in with our lives without each other.

I really enjoyed the process of letter writing. Writing from the heart, sharing the most mundane but important things, signing your name, then sending it off. After that, the wait started. When will she respond? What will she say? What will be attached? Excitement would build until one day a letter addressed in children’s handwriting would arrive. Such an arrival was usually greeting with jumping in excitement.

Fast forward twenty years, not a personal letter had been sent by me to anyone. I began to into the world of fountain pens. I found a community of fellow pen geeks on Instagram. One of them asked if I would be open to a pen pal. At first I was wary, responding in the untrustful logic of an adult. Eventually, after some thought, I acquiesced, sending him my address. A letter arrived a week later and I was taken back twenty years to the joy of receiving a letter (I nearly jumped for joy). This time, though, the letter was from a stranger, a mere avatar and photostream. I enjoyed reading his ramblings and though and seeing the different pens and inks he used. So I responded. One pen pal turned into ten from all around the world, from Los Angeles to Australia, from Canada to South Africa.

I have found letter writing is a much more personal way to communicate than the way in which I met all of my pen pals, social media. It removes the coldness of typeface and adds the warmth of a unique handwriting, whether scribble scratch or Spencerian. We communicate person to person not avatar to avatar. The avatar has a greater tendency to allow the person to hide behind good moments and the beauty of human life. A scratched letter can’t hide behind Futura typeface or filtered photographs. One communicates person to person faults and joys, quirks and triumphs.

Writing letters also gives new insight into the lives of our ancestors who used writing as THE main means of communication across distance. Children would write letter home from school. Soldiers would write home from the battlefront. Friends would keep in touch through correspondence. The written word becomes more than just something to be read but becomes the revelation of someone’s humanity, that he or she is in need of community, established, fostered, and maintained, in reality. Technology reveals man’s reason. The written word can reveal the soul that is reasonable. With each loop of the “l” and cross of the “t,” more is revealed about a certain individual well beyond his/her likes, dislikes, job, and particular cultural niche. So contact an old friend or make a new one, solicit an address and get writing. Let the relationships begin.

Over the next few posts I will share some stories with you about thing that have happend to me due to my taking up regular correspondence.

The Canonization of St. John Paul II (or the Joy in my Heart)

Divine Mercy Sunday was a crazy day. I celebrated mass at my parish at 7:30 am, and, then hurried over to the high school where I am chaplain to celebrate mass for the Dad’s Club who park cars for the annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. After the mass, I helped them park cars for an hour or so then made my  way over to the festival to enjoy good music and good food. The day was topped off with a n unforgettable performance by my guitar hero, Eric Clapton. All of this was expected when I woke up that morning.

However, during the Eucharistic Prayer, at the 7:30 am mass, the LORD gave me a gift I didn’t expect. “May he make of us an eternal offering to you, so that we may obtain an inheritance with your elect,” I prayed, “especially with the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, with blessed Joseph her spouse, with your blessed Apostles and glorious martyrs, with St. Rita, St. John XXIII, St. John Paul II …” At this point, I choked up and nearly started weeping. “and with all the Saints, on whose constant intercession in your presence we rely for unfailing help.” John Paul became a saint since the last time I said the Eucharistic Prayer!

This man came to my hometown. This man’s writing helped me fall in love with the truth. He helped me first contemplate the depths of priestly ministry (Pastores Dabo Vobis). He helped me understand the moral life with greater clarity (Veritatis Splendor). He gave me the gift of a fully fleshed (pun not intended) theological anthropology (Love and Responsibility and Man and Woman He Created Them). He gave me my first theological reflections on the family and the beauty of femininity (Familiaris Consortio and Mulieris Dignitatem). He helped me fall in love deeper with the Blessed Mother (Redemptoris Mater). He taught me why I need to go out in to the world to proclaim the Gospel and not follow my natural introverted tendency to be insular (Redemptoris Missio). He hepled me understand for the first time many of the documents of Vatican II. His intellectual rigor paved the way for me to receive so well the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI.

I consider him one of my intellectual mentors, and this man, who taught me so much, is now in heaven, inteceding for me as a brother priest, as a man who tries, even if I fail, to take part in the New Evangelization. He was and is one of the priest I looked up to in seminary, a priest I wished to emulate, both in pastoral activity and spiritual and theological reflection.

All these memories came to a flooding head at my praying the Eucharistic prayer that morning. Such joy filled my heart at him being in heaven, that my emotions couldn’t handle. This man whom I love, both as a father and a pope, is before the throne of the lamb adoring the Lord of Hosts and offering supplication for all of his flock, you and me included.

O WHAT JOY IT IS TO BE CONNECTED TO SO GREAT A CLOUD OF WITNESSES!

 

Why I Use a Fountain Pen

Many say we are in the full swing of the digital age. Smart phones are in pockets and purses. Tablets are in backpacks, briefcases, and handbags. Social media is a main means of communication. We type more than we use a pens. Pens are mainly used for short quick notes for those over the age of 35. Evernote and other note-taking apps have overcome the post-it note. Why, with all this great and useful technology, would I choose to use a pen and in particular a pen that requires cleaning and maintenance. I can get a free app or use a Bic (the pen that expects no responsibility, like a writing one-night stand).

Black Pilot Falcon

photo by gouletpens.com

It all started while I was in my final semester of graduate school, soon before I would be ordained a priest. Each year the seminary would send the first year theologians on a mission trip to Granada, Nicaragua. I was part of the leadership team that assured that everything flowed smoothly for the participants so they could enter into the experience of ministering to the poor in and around Granada. Towards the end of the trip each year, we had a celebratory meal at a local restaurant. The place that year was new to us veterans. It was situated on a bay of Lake Granada with one the mountains overlooking it. It was a perfect spot for a restaurant. All the seating was outside at this long table fitting all 36 of us. Sitting next to me was one of the participants who over the past two years I admired. He had left a successful career to follow God’s call for him to priesthood. During our conversation that night, we somehow got to talking about pens and the fact that he writes almost exclusively with fountain pens, which to me was new and exciting and mysterious and strange and wonderful and romantically out of date. He was gracious enough to let us try the pen he was currently carrying and if my memory serves me write (pun intended) it was a black Pilot Falcon with a soft-fine nib (shown above). He took out a pocket notebook, and I put pen to paper.

I had never seen a fountain pen before, except in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where Brody uses the ink as a weapon onMarcus Brody an unsuspecting Nazi tank engineer. I certainly had never used one before. It seemed as foreign and exotic as the locale I was currently in, a place that I would visit but never stay. Pen to paper the feel was so smooth compared to the (yes) Bic I had in my pocket. The line was dark and seemed like it would would never fade, and this particular pen had a semi-flex to the nib so the line width changed depending on the amount of pressure I used. I resolved that afternoon in the shadow of a mountain with the breezes of a Central American lake in the middle of January, “I am going to buy a fountain pen.”

Noodler's Apache Sunset

picture by Azizah from gourmetpens.com

It is now two years later. What was one pen in late January in 2012 is now around seventy fountain pens, ballpoints, rollerballs, and brush pens. Over the course of those two years, I fell in love again with writing, the very act of it. There is a certain tactile pleasure of feeling the nib/tip hit the page that a touchscreen mitigates. The pages, for the most part, give resistance, which lets you know you are putting something down. Using a stylus or my fingers on a keyboard keep me at (pun intended again I guess) arms length from whatever I’m producing. With a pen, I feel fully immersed, me, my thoughts, and my thoughts communicated through colorful characters flowing from a pen.

It is isn’t just the feel that keeps me writing. It what’s going one in my brain. Each stroke, each word, each phrase needs to be much more intentional. There is no autocorrect or spell-check with pen and paper. Writing exercises my brain as well. Typing on a laptop for me doesn’t tax my brain (I had a job as a data entry clerk for a while). Typing may be more productive in word count per minute, but in that action of <click> <click> <clap> <click> my heart and my soul is not as lifted or moved.

Lamy Turquoise

Photo by Citirine of inkofmefondly.blogspot.com

With pens, and fountain pens in particular, I’m able to inject a bit of color in my normal everyday life. I’m able to take down a phone message in a blue reminiscent of the clear waters of the Florida beach (to the left) or a black that reminds me of looking up from my sleeping bag in a tent while camping, total darkness (below), or an ink with the varying shades of  a tree in autumn (above).

Finally, I carry around with me not just something that is functional, but something that is also beautiful. Many of my pens are works of beautiful engineering and design and can be considered works of art. By being in hand, they can lift me up from mere use to the one who is the Most Beautiful, the One from whom all beauty flows. Each pen, then is a reminder, that I am loved. That I was created to admire beauty. That I wasn’t created to be for mere use but to be enjoyed for my own sake. It is a reminder that all around me are revelations of the God I love and serve.

Noodler's Blacks

photo by Ed Jelley at edjelley.com