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11 October 2007

harmony.
about a month ago, i helped run a training workshop for grad students teaching literature for the first time. my cohort was out of town for a wedding the two days immediately before the workshop. and my parents, who i had been counting on to take me to costco to get some materials, were also out of town. all of which resulted in me running around on my own, begging favors from friends, and left me generally a bit frazzled. on sunday afternoon my right foot started hurting and by the end of the evening my foot was swollen and hurt so badly that i was limping. this was A Bad Thing, as i had to be on my feet much of the next two days, not to mention hauling all kinds of stuff between my car and the classroom. in tears i called seymour and asked if he would come give me a blessing. which he did, along with mbn. and then they helped me wrap up the last minute details i still needed to finish. i actually ended up in bed before 1 in the morning.

monday was a long day and my foot was aching and swollen by the time i got home. but i had to do some prep for the workshop the next day. and my parents were coming home, so i needed to do a bit of cleaning. my time was limited and i knew my foot couldn’t handle too much, so i made my list of tasks in my head and set about accomplishing them as efficiently as i could. no movement was wasted. every trip from one room to another served multiple purposes. complete economy of motion. i was in that mode where mind and body and purpose flowed together so smoothly that the only way to describe it is harmony. i have these moments occasionally and they feel like perfection. everything fitting together to make a whole that is more than merely the sum of its parts. there’s a feeling of grace, of blessedness, that comes, leaving me feeling like life makes sense, even if the work i’m doing is as menial as dishes and laundry and taking out the trash.

as i reflected on that feeling, i thought back to the morning i spent at fallingwater in august. the building is such a work of absolute harmony that it seems wrong to call it a building. everything, from the glorious design to the building materials, works together to manifest perfection. there was absolutely no detail too mundane for wright to consider so that it would add to the being of his creation. this is true of all of wright’s work. for instance, at the pope-leighey house, wright used long horizontal lines to reinforce the design and to add a sense of spaciousness to what is a very small building. in laying the bricks, the mortar that ran horizontally was recessed a good half an inch inset from the front of the bricks, while the mortar that ran vertically was flush with the bricks, allowing the shadows cast by the bricks into the recessed horizontal mortar to create long lines. wright even dictated that the screws used in the building be flathead rather than phillips and they were to be turned so the groove on the head of the screw formed a horizontal line.

fallingwater is full of gorgeous details that contribute to its harmony. the boulder around which wright built the house jutting up to form a rough hearth in the primary living space of the house. the stone floors inside polished so they look like the stones of the terraces when they are wet. the glass corner of the house opening out so the corner disappears altogether, breaking the box of the room, the house refusing to inter its occupants in a living tomb. the low ceilings and vast stretches of glass directing the eye out to the beauty of the forest. how could anyone live in such an environment and not find herself existing more often in that state of harmony that i find only so rarely?

in my mind, wright’s magnificent masterpiece is akin to the gorgeous perfection of beethoven’s symphonies–beings in their own right, full of life and beauty that can make the world better. when i left fallingwater that day, i resolved to go back. as often as i can. to immerse myself again in a place where all of the best of humanity and nature work together to manifest god’s glory.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. 12 October 2007 5:39 pm

    I love those moments when I work so well without wasted time/movements. I have had a few days like that lately and it feels good. Maybe next time I will go to falling water with you!

  2. 12 October 2007 8:48 pm

    i hope so. i’ve resolved to go at least once during each season. i’ve seen it in summer. time for fall and winter and spring. it would be especially lovely if the winter visit happened when the fall was frozen. and if the spring visit happened when the dogwoods were blooming. oh i love the east. i don’t understand the fascination with california…

  3. 14 October 2007 10:18 pm

    yes….I know the moments you describe. You mentioned receiving a Priesthood blessing. Awareness and gratitude….the Lord does bless us. He does help us in ways we might not always recognize immediately…..but I’m sure you did!love you! …and would love to visit falling water with you someday!

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