fragments from a fire

This past weekend, Andy and I went to San Francisco on our empty nest honeymoon.

We did the San Francisco things:  the trolley ride, the bridge, the pretty houses.

 I got to ride on the outside, standing up!  I felt so cool-touristy!  People waved at me!

I got to ride on the outside, standing up!  I felt so cool-touristy!  People waved at me!

 We went over the bridge 6 times on Saturday.  Slight misunderstanding about the bus route and how to get to Sausalito...but I did perfect my bridge-photo-taking-skills with the practice. 

We went over the bridge 6 times on Saturday.  Slight misunderstanding about the bus route and how to get to Sausalito...but I did perfect my bridge-photo-taking-skills with the practice. 

 Grant Street.  Sigh.

Grant Street.  Sigh.

We also went to the De Young museum in Golden Gate Park, because my friend Christie said we had to.  

I'm pretty sure the De Young was great, but I actually don't remember too much, because one of the first things I saw was this.  

The individual parts of this piece of art are suspended from the ceiling on filament line.  

The whole thing moves and sways on the air currents in the room, creating shifting patterns all over the walls and floor around it.

The longer I stood there and looked at the piece, the more I loved it, and the more troubled I felt.  

I said to Andy, "It's like a ship exploded, and all the pieces are sinking to the ocean floor." 

Then, I went and looked at the accompanying plaque.

As soon as I read that, I started to cry.  So I sat down a cried for a while and then wandered around in a daze until the words started to come, for why I had such an emotional reaction to some wood, wires, and nails.  Even if they did come from a burned church.  

I knew it wasn't just the church.  There was something more to it for me.  It was the  piece itself.  

Finally, I realized it was this.

Cornelia Parker took the fragments of that burned church, without changing them.  

Without painting, polishing, reshaping.

No denying the reality of the disaster, the damage, the destruction.

She took all those fragments of truth from the ashes of a fire, and she made beauty.

That is the perfect metaphor for the life I want to have:  truth and beauty without lies or pretense.

Cornelia Parker makes her beauty with fragments of wood from a fire of hate, and I want to make beauty with the fragments of life in that same way.  

I want it so much that it brings me to tears, when I see it pictured so clearly before me.

This is what I want:

Wherever the prescribed burn has been,

without denial of the damage, without needing to pretend the pain away,

without waving some religious magic wand,

to nurture beauty,

to pursue peace,

to live in Love.

This is who we are, together, I believe--you, me, Cornelia Parker:

All of our stories different, and the same,

the straight-up terrible truth, and the incredible promise of redemption,

held together in our hands:

beauty for ashes.

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