Morning Coffee with Proust

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. . . all this made of the church for me something entirely different from the rest of the town: an edifice occupying, so to speak, a four-dimensional space–the name of the fourth being Time–extending through the centuries its ancient nave, which, bay after bay, chapel after chapel, seemed to stretch across and conquer not merely a few yards of soil, but each successive epoch from which it emerged triumphant . . . 

Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past

I would not have traded this morning’s sentiments while lingering over the precious words of Proust for anything. I knew I was going to have to dash out of the house before editing and posting today’s blog–I have the rare privilege this week of returning to the high school where I taught for over two decades–Arlington Martin High School–to prep the Academic Decathlon team for their competition that is drawing near. They have asked me to return a couple of times after retirement to coach the team up in art history. This year is America’s Pop Art of the Sixties, and I have had the time of my life researching, re-writing, and preparing Powerpoint lectures on the artists highlighted for this year’s study.

Study times are sacred times for me, and have been so since the 1970’s when I found myself preparing for the pastoral ministry. In the shadow of the church, and later the theological seminary, I cultivated a life-long love for scholarship, and have truly relished the quiet solitary hours spent in study. But I will never be able to write of these experiences as beautifully as Marcel Proust did in his monumental work. The fragment I posted above is part of a ten-page rhapsody describing his boyhood memories of the church where he was nurtured. I would always hope that one day I could record in words as powerful as Proust the layers of feeling I experience when immersed in quiet, contemplative study, in environments such as he described.

Sacred Heart

One of my Church Watercolors

Since the year 2000, I have enjoyed teaching part-time at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth, and right before that, I was on staff at the Polytechnic United Methodist Church on the corner of that campus. I used to have an office there, and still on occasion teach a college course in one of their classrooms.

poly church

Polytechnic United Methodist Church

The past eighteen years I have enjoyed on this campus have been a quality extension of my lifestyle of seeking quiet places for study and contemplation.

texas wesleyan

Texas Wesleyan University

On the third floor of their library, I will often ensconce myself, an hour or two before class, and sit beside a window overlooking the sprawling campus, all the way to the Polytechnic Church. I often refer to that third floor as Luther’s Tower, and used to study there late at night when I taught evening courses (being a full-time high school teacher by day had its fringe benefits).

After nearly a year’s hiatus, I got out my guitar and went to an Open Mic last night at Dr. Jeckyll’s Beer Lab in Pantego, Texas. I’m glad I responded to the invitation that came late in the afternoon. The Open Mic only occurs there once a month, but it used to be a nice piece of my routine, and I’m thinking seriously about letting that chapter re-open.

open mike edited

Thanks for reading.

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