“My question was the attention I gave to things around me, and their answer was their beauty.” —Augustine of Hippo
Beauty is the heart of what matters, and perhaps the heart of matter itself. It offers us that sense of abundance in the midst of want, a glimpse of wholeness among the fragments. It is the savor we sometimes taste in the midst of our longings. In a time of pandemic, when uncertainty is unavoidable, finding beauty—and being found by it—is essential for our survival, if not also for our thriving. In this online retreat, we will cultivate the practice of attentiveness through the medium of poetry, film, and music. With the help of various simple exercises, we will explore Dostoevsky’s claim that “beauty alone will save us” – because it has the power to awaken us to the depth of the “ordinary” in our lives, precisely in the midst of our struggles and fears. For beauty has the capacity to restore us to a way of seeing things “whole” and living into that wholeness in ways that might inspire and encourage us to lead more centered lives. The retreat begins and concludes with a period of shared meditation.
Mark S. Burrows is a frequent presenter at the Meditatio Centre. Currently serving as professor of religion and literature at the University of Applied Sciences in Bochum (Germany), he is a poet and scholar of mystical literature as well as an award-winning translator of German poetry. His recent books include The Chance of Home. Poems (2018) and, with Jon M. Sweeney, Meister Eckhart’s Book of the Heart (2017) and Meister Eckhart’s Book of Secrets (2019). He resides in Camden, ME.