Now that my title sounds like it was modeled after Sufjan...I recently finished the best book I have read in a long long time. I realize that is a big statement, but seriously, “The God of Small Things” is fantastic, fantastic writing paired with a story that still resonates in me. Arundati Roy is able to capture some heart-breakingly beautiful moments. And you have to read it to get it. Explanation will cause it harm.
Besides just sweeping me away, though, the book reminded me of the small beautiful moments of life that are so easy to walk right past. I’m not sure how I forgot to look for them—but I blame the winter, namely. Before I go on a tangent about their significance, I want to define it as best I can—which, not surprisingly, is by quoting other people’s writing:
“Alone, in the huge apartment, with a glass of ambrosia in her hand, Camille listened to the voices of angels. Even the crystal pendants on the chandelier quivered with well-being…she must have listened to track number 5 at least 14 times. And still, even the fourteenth time she heard it, her rib cage shattered into a thousand pieces.” (Hunting and Gathering)
“I didn’t know what to think, but what I felt was magnetic and so big it ached like the moon had entered my chest and filled it up. The only thing I could compare it to was the feeling I got one time when I walked back from the peach stand and saw the sun spreading across the late afternoon, setting the top of the orchard on fire while darkness collected underneath. Silence had hovered over my head, beauty multiplying in the air, the trees so transparent I felt I could see through to something pure inside them. My chest ached then, too, in this very same way.” (The Secret Life of Bees)
In another top ten book, “A Severe Mercy,” Sheldon Vanauken says the following:
“Then—then she said something about how beauty hurts. ‘What! You, too?’ I exclaimed, in effect. ‘You know that? The pain of beauty? I thought I was the only one.’”
My hope in writing this is that there will be a handful of people who get what those passages are saying. That’s they aren’t just pretty paragraphs, but that you have your own moments that you have folded up in an envelope inside of you.
The only thing that I can attempt to do with this ache of beauty is capture it, and even that is elusive. It ultimately leaves me with my eyes facing eternity, when I have no doubt the longing to be a part of it will cease, namely because somehow we will an actual part of it. But until then, my struggle to capture and hold on to the beauty persists. Sigh. But I guess I’m doing my best to follow Sam’s example in The Fellowship of the Ring:
“Sam saw a white star, peeping among the cloud wrock dark high up in the mountains, twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him.”