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True North

Discussion in 'Deeper Fellowship' started by Mark Dohle, Jan 29, 2020.

  1. Mark Dohle

    Mark Dohle Well-Known Member

    United States

    This is an older piece that I want to reshare. Fr. James and Br. Lauren (both deceased) are part of this essay, and in rereading it brought back some fond memories. Also, my brother is himself into photography, and very good at it. The picture below is his, and one of my favorites. I have it in my room and never tire of looking at it.--Br.MD

    True North

    I was asked to drive one of the brothers to a doctor’s appointment yesterday afternoon. I have known him a long time; in fact, we were novices together in 1971. He stayed for a short time then went back to teaching. He was a Christian Brother (teaching order). He reentered here around 2000. As I was driving him into his appointment, he shared with me how beautiful he finds the world and how thankful he is to God when he wakes up every day. About five years ago, when he was 80 or close to it, he found that he liked to do arrangements with silk flowers. Not my kind of thing, but I have found that when he creates something of beauty he becomes excited and wants to show everyone what he has created. We have some of his creations in our church on feast days and he sells them in our store. Being able to bring some beauty into the world does give him a lift, makes him happy and he knows that it does bring joy to others.

    There are monks here who love nature on a very deep level. Our abbot knows a great deal about local plants and butterflies. He has scattered around the Monastery the plant species that will attract butterflies. He counts the number of species that live on our land and notifies the “Audubon Society” of the number. About five years ago he found out that a very rare species of butterfly had been seen in a park in North Atlanta. So one weekend we drove up to see if it could be seen and photographed. We drove, we saw, he got his picture and I was amazed at how taken he was with seeing what was to me just another butterfly. Like Lauren, he has an eye for beauty. It must have touched me in some deep way since I still see the memory as if it happened yesterday.

    James another member of our community loves to do take pictures and he is very good at it. To capture a scene on film, for me, makes me be in the moment caught on film. What I see every day if seen in a photo can make me stop, look and admire. One of his pictures is of a window in an old barn we had here (now gone) filled with ‘junk’, bits and pieces of everything. Yet that photo is one of my favorites.

    My brother Robert is now taking up photography and I am quite taken by some of his photos. You have to have an eye to see the beauty and he seems to have it in spades. He has one of a man walking under a palm tree near a body of water; the composition of the photo to me is very beautiful and brings forth quite a few memories of myself walking alone. Some of the memories are good, others bleak, but they can all be relived by looking at a photo of a scene that is caught on film. Also, the simple beauty of the photo is soothing in and of itself.

    Beauty is a window in which we can perceive a deeper reality. When something attracts, if truly beautiful, or if it represents our own human condition, it can be a compass pointing to our true north. People do that I believe as well. Love and beauty always point to something larger, well at least it does for me and I believe for many others.

    I need others to point out beauty to me, whether in a photo, in some sort of artistic arrangements, or simply pointing out how exciting it is to see a rare butterfly in the Atlanta area.

    I like to grow plants in water, to see their roots grow. So I have a few in my room. I like rocks, so a retreatant gave me a black rock that he used when he prayed, so I have that now in my room. Little things, all windows pointing to ‘Beauty’, where all beauty points towards, the ‘True North’…perhaps the homeland all of our nostalgia points to.--Br.MD
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