Tuesday, October 1

La Belle Epoque

"Why do those guys hang out at Eighth Day Books all the time?" a lady from church asked me.

Because I had never needed a reason to hang out at Eighth Day myself, I was drawn up short. "I think that they think it is beautiful," I stammered out.

Through its literature, poetry, and art, Eighth Day Books is a well of this beauty. The beauty is served up in cold, gulping draughts through the books, staff, book groups and classes; from Warren himself. It spills over to Eighth Day Institute and all over this bookstore that is community. Eighth Day is a deep pool fed by the most ancient and refreshing springs.

Being in the Eighth Day community for awhile now, I can see that not only is the answer true of those men, but also myself and so many others. We are compelled by our very souls to drink deeply of beauty; it is not an option. Beauty is like water, like air. I'm not sure if it is an indication of our hideous brokenness or our great health that we find it so necessary; though I suspect it shows both those things. And it is not just beauty we are thirsty for, it is also truth and love.

So many friends (individuals, organizations, churches, colleges) of the store are also deep wells of beauty, truth, and love. They are at the same time wells and the sojourners to the wells. And the thing I have noticed about all of my fellow sojourners is that as we go on our way in hopes of participating in and becoming Beauty, Truth, and Love is that there is a constant struggle, a swimming upstream.

I see us all as a multicolored panoply of sojourners; dancing, singing (and sometimes trudging) out to the wells, to Beauty, Truth, and Love. I see us as bohemians of La Belle Epoque, children of the revolution. It comes from standing a bit outside the culture, I suppose, this struggle does. A discordance between chaos and rest, a hard-won choice to focus on what the ancients tell us is important rather than our culture, a financial pinch. (Or squeeze. Or vise grip.) In fact, it seems that most of the people I know that are doing the most to pursue and provide beauty are always beset by these struggles, constantly having to negotiate them. Why is that?

As I discussed my theory of bohemians in La Belle Epoque with Warren one day and asked him why, he said, "You just have to guess that it is its own reward." We agreed that the challenge was to wake up again the next day and guess the same thing.

Beauty for beauty's sake is the reward.

And Beauty, Truth, and Love are to be pursued and become for its own sake. For His own sake. Because He is the words in the books, He is the Living Water in all the wells.

And we will get up tomorrow, and we will guess again. We will sing, and dance, and trudge, and chase, and become again. Till La Belle Epoque, the eighth day which is eternity.

For His sake. 

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