“God and beauty are one...”
I’ve been reading (finally) Whittaker Chambers’s famous autobiography, Witness, and finding that it’s as good as people say. I’ll probably talk about it more when I’ve finished it, but I had to post this passage. Chambers is discussing the fact that there was no religion in his home, but that he nevertheless felt that it entered his life through three experiences. This is one of them, which he says occured “in early childhood”:
One day I wandered off alone and found myself before a high hedge that I had never seen before. It was so tall that I could not see over it and so thick that I could not see through it. But by lying flat against the ground, I wriggled between the privet stems.
I stood up, on the other side, in a field covered from end to end, as high as my head, with thistles in full bloom. Clinging to the purple flowers, hovering over them, or twittering and dipping in flight, were dozens of goldfinches—little golden yellow birds with black, contrasting wings and caps. They did not pay the slightest attention to me, as if they had never seen a boy before.
The sight was so unexpected, the beauty was so absolute, that I thought I could not stand it and held to the hedge for support. Out loud, I said: “God.” It was a simple statement, not an exclamation, of which I would then have been incapable. At that moment, which I remembered through all the years of my life as one of its highest moments, I was closer than I would be again for almost forty years to the intuition that alone could give meaning to my life—the intuition that God and beauty are one.
I am very familiar with that experience.Pre-TypePad
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