Dwell in an Artist's House

“Let the graciousness of the Lord our God be upon us, and the work of our hands,
establish beyond us; yes, establish the work of our hands"

--Psalm 90

Live in an artist’s house for a time
If you can
Dwell among the strange ceramic on display
in small groups and singly in each conceivable nook
they spot you at every turn
textures remind you of a dim possibility
shapes sing a Psalm of hands
colors give your eyeballs breath.

Yes, live in an artist’s house for a spell
If you get the chance
Gaze over the books on the artist’s shelves
take in these shapes and titles
the thick ones and the thin
the smell of their unsettled settledness
the scope of restless interests
Someone here has wanted to know everything, everything important,
And could not stay in one place too long.
Pull down a volume of poetry you never heard of,
with a style half-way between familiar and exotic
And limn the pages, a few each day,
Leaf through the art books, Gauguin, Wyeth
Let these be your companions for the week.

Live in an artist’s house a while
And on Sundays stroll down to the artist’s church
and take worship with the small besieged band of freethinkers
vaguely wishing they could believe more than they do in salvific things:
love, justice, redemption.

Feel the artist’s lifelong care, the slow-swift passing of his years, in the shape of his house,
Mold yourself to that shape
Sleep there with infected dreams
For a week or two at a time
And recurrently, if at all possible.

Dwell in an artist’s spare fecund space
And when you leave say, “Thanks again”
Surprised by how much you mean it.

Midland, TX, 2005.09

* * * * * * *
During 2005-06 I was the half-time consulting minister to the UU Church of Midland, TX. That year, I was also the half-time minister, with LoraKim, to the UU Community of El Paso. My pattern was to fly the 300 miles from El Paso to Midland and stay in Midland for one 10-day stint each month, overlapping with two Sundays. While I was in town in Midland, I'd spend the nights at various folks' homes. For the first few months, I stayed at a small guest-cottage in the backyard of one the members, an artist. The epigraph from Psalm 90 happened to be in my mind because Valerie Forstman's dissertation, which I was reading, was an analysis of Psalm 90.

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