A metropole in South East Asia, March 2014
In the dust, the crowds and noise we’ve been working for some weeks with a nice and trustworthy, longterm local initiative among streetkids. Helping at something like a daycare/ preschool for these jewels, who come everyday from their makeshift homes under a bridge (where a train track runs through, putting them in constant additional danger…) to get some love, food and a shower.
Once, my friends and I took a whole morning and deloused them all. In a way pointless, since we knew, they would come back with those rigid companions sooner or later. But they so enjoyed the procedure. We sang and danced with them, told them stories and they stole our hearts with their smiles, laughter and joy.
I easily lose my heart in places like this. And I think: I could spend my life doing just this. And I should! Still, it leaves me feeling helpless. Because, what can I do?!
And then there is this old, nagging calling in me, that I often doubt and, so far, can’t grasp. To create. Why art? Why do I want to waste my life on art, when there are places like this… Such a waste. I so long to do something meaningful.
As I was working there, I felt so close to Jesus. This is him. He is here. He is combing their lies out. He is touching them, when no one would, since they belong to the untouchables. He is walking the streets of Delhi, kneeling in the dirt, meeting the people, we call “poor” with his dignifying smile.
And walking through the crowds, having bad smells in my nose, stepping into undefinable gross puddles with my sandals, feeling so awfully white and rich, not quite so well disguised in the Kurtas and scarfs, I wonder about Jesus humanity. He was human.. I ponder on, how he was truly human yet God. I imagine him walking through crowded streets, probably being bumped into, maybe yelled at by market sellers and not always recognized as someone special. Like, we, so oddly by our skin color, are looked at and treated different. Dearest Jesus, so human, so readily in the dirt.
With questions like this I continued my journey...
Mexico, April 2014
It’s almost Easter… I want to read the easter story again and I worked my way through the gospel of Matthew to the last chapters. I know what’s coming… And I stumbled over the following story again, but this time, suddenly, the words jumped at me. As if I never knew, it had been there.
"She has done a beautiful thing to me"
I’ve always been stumbling over this story… because I always agreed with the disciples. Why the waste, Jesus?!
And still more: why, from all the things, we will tell about you, should her story be told… and I always also wondered: is this actually happening? Are we telling her story?
We, me, that I am writing this and you, who is able to read this, we are so rich and we live so wasteful. Guilty.
Naturally, as an attempting artist, and truly an artist at heart, I’ve been thinking about beauty a lot.
There is something about God, that makes me think “beautiful” is simply the best way to describe him.
And yet another strand… Sometimes the Kosmos makes me freak out. So big. So much wasteful space. And God hid so much beauty all over the place and we are so tiny. And you can go the other direction - the microcosmos - so amazingly tiny and we don’t yet understand it all. If the Kosmos isn’t a good picture, of what he is like, I wonder what else. We should be. And actually we are: a human is the crown of creation. We truly are magnificent. So amazing! So complex! Everyone so unique! An image of Him.
The greek word κόσμος - cosmos, stands for harmonious arrangement, ornament, decoration or also adornment. We get the word “cosmetic” from there. Also like jewelry.
All quite unnecessary, am I wrong?
We so often think that the beautiful thing is just the icing, just something we indulge, with a bit of a guilty pleasure, but not the necessity. We can survive without. Maybe. But really?
What was the woman doing, when she wasted that precious, precious perfume on Jesus head?
The whole room must have smelled and Jesus, must have smelled of it for days. Only a few days left, and he would be betrayed, captured, beaten, mocked and murdered gruesomely. In those moments, Jesus was very human. He went through agony and betrayal, alone.
“she has done a beautiful thing to me”
The word beautiful used here is the greek word “καλὸς”, kalos. And it translates for: beautiful, good, worthy, attractively good, good that inspires.
She has done a "kalos" thing to me.
I love this word.
And yes, this is, what I want to be doing. Attractively good things, that inspire. Beautiful things.
It was an act of beautiful worship. Because as she poured out the most precious thing, she might have owned, she recognized him. She recognized him as who he is. Worthy of her best. And yet, that alabaster jar is such a little and humble gift in comparison for who it was.
Worship is recognition.
And I am thinking about Jesus, the human one, that walked through the streets, everyone pulling at him. “Heal me! Touch me! See me, Jesus!” And he did.
And yet, may I ask, who touched him lovingly?
I imagine him often being very tired, very weary. Maybe, I wonder, he could have used a pat on the back, a shoulder rub, a hug… And I don’t know, he might have had it and maybe, his relationship to Father was so complete and sufficient, even in those times…
But I read of him in the garden, in agony. Left alone by his friends.
And just before all that, she breaks that alabaster and does a kalos thing to him. And it truly touched him.
I love that. I love how he seems to be in that moment. So aware of what is coming. So aware, that this is a preparation.
And I love, that she dared to break that jar. So that even in those unimaginable agonizing hours, he might have still been able to catch that scent and remember, what she did for him. How she recognized and honored him. And I like to think, that too, gave him strength and reassurance.
Before, I often stumbled over Jesus repulsing answer to the guys: "The poor you will always have…”. But I know his heart good enough to know, it is not demeaning. But it puts things in perspective. Don’t forget the kalos! And don’t think, it is a waste.
And my thoughts wander further. When we do kalos to each other, we recognize each other as who we truly are. And we recognize him.
Deserving of beauty, made of beauty. Longing for beauty.
I think, reminding people of who they truly are, is the most powerful thing, you can do to them. You can give people food, but with that, not always dignity. If I give them the latter, if I allow them beauty, I think, that is the most dignifying thing, I can do to a person.
That can be done in so simple, small, extravagant acts of beauty. Those unnecessary ones.
Let us not stop being inspired by his cosmos and filling it in return with acts of beauty.
Don’t stop living out your creativity, your sense of beauty. Fill your cosmos with it! I believe, we would hear the creators song resounding in us louder and louder.
I have so much to learn. There is so much more to beauty. So much more to Him. I believe, beauty is essential. And there certainly is so much more to this story. These somewhat random thoughts don't give the topic enough credit.
Yet, it inspired me. I am allowed to be “wasteful”. But not for myself. I don’t want to keep beauty to myself, but I want to reveil it, throw it at this world. And yes, I would love to do extravagant acts of beauty to those, we call “poor” and to those, he calls "poor". I want to love in that way. Inspiring others and myself to be, who we are meant to be.
He put it inside of me, so I am allowed to pursue art.
Art is significant. Very.