Monday, May 13, 2013

Some People Collect Spoons or Goofy Figurines...

Ansel Adams, Redwoods, Bull Creek Flat 

(c) 2010 The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust
I have little interest in decorative spoons, or stamps, or cheap porcelain angels. I like snow globes, but I would rather not have to dust them. Instead, I keep a collection of quotes. I collect quotes from books and talks, from random radio broadcasts or signs on museum walls. Some of the words inspire me. Some make me laugh. Some just sound nice rolling off my tongue. Because one cannot collect anything without imposing that collection on others, here are just a few of my quotes of the moment.

My friend Ansel on love friendship art nature

Ansel Adams tops my list of quotes this week. In a letter to his best friend, Cedric Wright, he once wrote:

"I saw a big thundercloud move down over Half Dome, and it was so big and clear and brilliant that it made me see many things that were drifting around inside of me; things that related to those who are loved and those who are real friends."

Adams went on to describe his epiphanies about love, friendship and art. I intended to include those epiphanies here, but then I read this sentence at the end of the letter: "I wish the thundercloud had moved up over Tahoe and let loose on you; I could wish you nothing finer."

I thought of a long ago moonrise over the mountains that illuminated something both essential and inexplicable for me, and I remembered the profound peace of a certain slant of light drifting through the leaves on a quiet Sunday afternoon. I understand the power of nature to bring clarity and make of life something noble and grand and positively divine, if only for a fleeting moment.  

Peter Lake on the satisfaction of responsibility

I love the book Winter's Tale, by Mark Helprin. For me, he is an Ansel Adams of words. In Winter's Tale, Helprin gives us the wonderful character of Peter Lake, a poet thief and master mechanic. Peter falls in love with Beverly, and at one point tells Beverly's father:

"When we drove across the lake this afternoon and Beverly held the little girl in her arms, I felt a responsibility far more satisfying than any pleasure I have ever known."

While perhaps not the most evocative example of Helprin prose, that quote strikes a particular chord with me today, on the heels of Mother's Day. No satisfaction I have yet experienced compares with the glorious weight of another soul intertwined with mine.

Alice Ann on teaching teenagers

This week brings to a close another year of teaching early morning seminary to a group of bleary-eyed, yet wonderful teenagers. Each schoolday morning we gather at 6:00 a.m. and study scriptures together. Sometimes they sleep or do homework. Often they sing spontaneously and out of tune in the middle of a lesson, and even more often they wander hopelessly off topic. Sometimes they grumble about early mornings and other injustices, and sometimes they sit rather sullen in the shadow of their hoodies. I regularly despair of teaching them anything of value. And yet, as my friend Alice Ann Harrop reminded us in a recent teacher training workshop:

"The Spirit isn't stopped by hoodies."

Despite the hoodies and the grumbling and the meanderings, I love these kids. I see glimmers of brilliance and compassion and deep thought that give me hope for the future.

1 comment:

  1. "The man who complains about the way the ball bounces is likely to be the one who dropped it" - Lou Holtz