Friday, April 12, 2013


This post is mostly an excuse to showcase yet another of my brother's brilliant photographs. I love the way the light is making the library on his college campus absolutely glow. Isn't creativity just so amazing? There's a true gift in being able to not only capture beauty, but to illuminate it--to take what is real and enhance its loveliness. 

The power of art--writing, music, photography--has been on my mind a lot over the past 24 hours (really, does it ever leave my mind I wonder?). Yesterday, I read the following passage in A Severe Mercy. Davy is the narrator's wife.

On Christmas Eve, when Davy was out of the room, I brought forth an immense photograph of the piers and vaulting of Bourges Cathedral that she had never seen, propping it up at eye level with a single lamp upon it and the others out. Looking at it, one was almost there, gazing up at all that soaring splendour. Then I put the Sanctus from the Mozart 'Requiem Mass' on the record player, ready to go at full volume. Fetching Davy in with her eyes obediently shut, I stood her in front of the picture and touched the switch. As the music swept into the room with grandeur, I put my arms around her from behind and whispered, 'Open your eyes, dearling.' It was a moment of astonishing glory, even to me who had staged it; and Davy had tears in her eyes. Glory and love. I knew I loved Davy more than all the world besides. And she knew it, too.

After reading this passage I listened to the Sanctus from Mozart's Requiem. And I pretty much lost it. This music is enhanced by the words I had just read. The photograph of the cathedral gave profound depth to Mozart's masterful music as Davy and her husband listened and looked. Their love was stirred and raised to new heights as beauty engulfed them. The power of art.

Art captures beauty, it illuminates reality. It enriches my life every single day.

Thanks, Noah, for inspiring this post. 


  1. Kate, I don't know why my Disqus uses this weird spelling for my name whenever I comment. My husband typed it in like this by mistake when he was trying to set up a Google account for me, then fixed it; but Disqus defaults to this spelling. Anyway, it's me, Mrs. Pearl (Laura, not Lauara!)--and I have to tell you that I loved this post. And your brother's photo is so lovely--when I first glanced at it, I thought it was a painting.

  2. It's ok, I knew it was you :) And I agree with you. Noah's photos often look like paintings--it's incredible. I'm so glad you enjoyed this post :)

  3. Thank you Kate!! Glad you enjoyed it :)

  4. This is so lovely. It left me wanting to race home, turn down the lights, and play the Sanctus.

  5. okay, listen to this and, while it's playing, read this

    you will weep with it in the most miraculous way

  6. there are some pieces - sorry, I'm getting carried away now - and you listen to them and you imagine them being performed for the first time in a gothic Cathedral centuries and centuries ago and you can imagine how it was so easy to be struck dumb by the wonder of what God allows us to do. Spem in Alium ( is one of them for me. I've only sung it once, but it was such a transformative experience.

  7. Oh such beautiful thoughts and suggestions. The Lacrimosa part of the Requiem is haunting, and you're right, incredible to read that boy's story alongside it. I love what he said about it sounding like the angels singing.

    I think it's so wonderful that you can appreciate this from a performer's standpoint. I'm listening to the Tallis now. I LOVE medieval and renaissance sacred music. I have a dream to tour Europe someday just listening to music in churches and cathedrals. Beethoven's Missa Solemnis is performed each year in St. Stephen's in Vienna and I want to do that once in my life.

    Here's a 16th century favorite of mine that you will love:

  8. I just love this entire conversation! Kate, your dream to travel through cathedrals listening to music sounds heavenly. Music is so powerful and *alive*! Lacrimosa is one of my favorites. In terms of orchestral music, I've also always loved Tchaikovsky's Pathetique. I don't think I've ever been able to listen to it without crying.

    I may now have to spend the rest of the afternoon planning that fantasy cathedral trip...

  9. I love that you love the idea!!! Wouldn't it be terrific? I hope we can both do it someday. It would be a trip of a lifetime.

    I don't know this symphony well, I'm listening to it now.

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