Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Pied Beauty and its Purpose

I am only Clara Schwartz. I am not great. I am not powerful. I cannot change the present. I cannot undo the evils of the past. My influence for the future will be very small, touching perhaps only a few people, unpowerful people, like myself.

I have been told to accept the things I cannot change. But there have been, and still are, great evils in the world which I cannot accept--nor do I have the power to change them. How many of us really have the power to change anything?

Today an aunt of mine, if you will, wrote this response to something I said:

Clärchen, I think that's a great insight--rather than despairing that you can't change the past or pretending that the present is better than it is, you take something from the past and make it present--like music--perfect--because it doesn't "expire" when the age in which it was composed was over. I like that a lot.

According to my same aunt, there is a line in the Talmud which reads something like this: And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world. I have never saved a person. I have never saved a world. But I can save something, perhaps a piece of someone's world.

I cannot undo the evil of the Second World War. I wish that I could--if only I could! I cannot pretend that my present era is better than it is. But I can go back before those times, and I can find things which were good and true, and I can make them present again. If I can bring back one Lied, one poem, one idea, one little piece of music, one glimpse of a life--of one eccentric German Jewish Christian Hausfrau at her pianoforte writing music with too many notes, or of her brother the great Felix Mendelssohn playing Bach and Beethoven for Goethe at the poet's home in Weimar--then I have accomplished my goal.

Pied Beauty is not about living in the present, as everyone tells me I must do. Pied Beauty is not about living in the past, as everyone chides me for doing. Pied Beauty is about taking something good, and making it present once more.

In the world that is to come, we know that God will make all good things new. All that was ever good and true will be present once more, and all that was evil shall be no more.

But in this world? In this dark, broken time? I can only cling to a little piece of goodness and make it present for a few people, once more.