I woke up early this morning. Nothing on the schedule so I could have slept a bit more but savoring a cup of hot, fresh, black coffee in the stillness of a house where even the dogs are still sleeping is too inviting. It is early morning but there is no brilliant sunrise. There is a gray morning sky outlining darker gray trees. Against this background there is a dot of brilliant red. A beautiful male cardinal is sitting in a tree on the edge of the woods. He looks like a colorized image in a black-and-white photograph. I needed to see that image this morning.
As part of my professional life, I have chosen to delve into the field of bioethics. I research and write on any topic that impacts the dignity of human life. This work includes wading into the political arena and looking at policy. There is a lot of ugliness and evil out there. There are days that I feel like I climbed out of the sewer. The stench is overwhelming.
So I need the beauty of a cardinal in the morning. Yes, I have the Grace of the Sacraments and prayers to renew and refresh and give me the strength to go back to the sewer again and again. But I need the tangible beauty of life to remind me why I go back. I am so grateful for my grandchild's smile, a gentle touch from someone I love, kindness from friends, the beauty of music, literature, and the visual arts, and the wonder of God's creation that all point to the world as God intended it to be. I can be in the sewer of this fallen world but I do not have to be of it.