A Whole Art

On artistic integrity.

rusty entrance of abandoned house covered with ivy

Many poets aren’t poets, Merton says, for the same reason so many religious are not saints: they never get to becoming the version they are meant to be, as created by the circumstances of their own lives.

It always seems more attractive, somehow, to be some other artist––the point being, one you can point to, already formed, as opposed to––what is this, but so much blurred confusion and dissonant noise?

The work of the artist comes from staying with the mess even as the dust settles, even as more debris accumulates, to rescue a faint but still-living music from the wreck.


Inspired by this morning’s reading, Thomas Merton’s short essay “Integrity” in New Seeds of Contemplation.

Author: Stacey C. Johnson

I keep watch and listen, mostly in dark places.

3 thoughts on “A Whole Art”

  1. Stacey, so powerful, and apropos for me this morning, when my congregation learns from the board that our recent decision to reopen (from Covid) has left us without a minister. This life (business, relationships, family, democracy) is sure messy, ain’t it?

    1. Oh Ryn, what timing you have. I am often overwhelmed by the mess of it. I have to remind myself often that the mess is the medium. (And now I am laughing because I am thinking of that Marshall McLuhan saying for a totally different context, “The medium is the message.” So now, when the going gets rough, I’m going to start reminding myself, “The medium is the mess.”) Thank you for mirroring this back to me so I can better see what I was looking for this morning!

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