Our Natural Beauty, From the Moment of Conception

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After a trip to the March for Life as a chaperone for a high school trip, I felt inspired to indulge in some poetic prose for an op-ed in last week’s Rhode Island Catholic:

The iconography around the building is endlessly meaningful, and visitors could spend hours trying to take it all in and a lifetime contemplating it. The craftsmanship not only of the artists whose work is on display, but also of the artisans who constructed their setting is impressive. In its sheer beauty, though, the marble — with the polished stone swirling around itself in a broad palette of colors — is what took my breath away.

A process of chemistry and tremendous force over centuries fashioned the material, awaiting human hands to collect and polish it, fashioning it into columns, railings, or just tiles and slabs to finish the floors and walls. In some places, the natural designs are suggestive of images. Between a confessional and a mural of the calling of St. Matthew, a dark shape in one slab gives the impression of a robed figure in a cavern or a wooded area. The imagination of a viewer awaiting his or her turn behind the curtain must provide the details.

The real story of natural materials, in other words, is essentially the subject matter of religion.

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