A Definition of Art

Today Jen ponders about art, wondering if she gets it. I think she does.:

Art is the secret handshake of the children of God, the inside joke among those with souls. The spark that is ignited within us when we are touched by a work of art is a spark of recognition: the artist has brought us a souvenir from our homeland beyond the material world, the place that none of us should know about, but all of us do. To connect with a piece of art is to connect with the artist as a fellow traveler, to realize that you are both walking the same rocky road, and that he is homesick too. And it matters because true art, art that seeks a connection of souls, makes it harder to devalue and dehumanize one another. It reminds us what it means to be human.

read her whole blog post here

15 Responses to A Definition of Art

  1. Melanie Bettinelli April 19, 2008 at 11:32 am #

    I like the candle idea, its a very simple design, pretty and I like the thought of lighting a flame in memory of the child, very Catholic.

    As to the timing, I might send the candle and a card with condolences now and the mass card later. That would be a nice gesture to show them you are still remembering them down the road. (That is if you will remember to send it. If it were me, I’d send it now because otherwise I’d lose it and it would never be sent at all; but that’s just me.)

    Wrong things to say: The big one is something along the lines of “Well, you can have another.” Anything that minimizes the loss, the grief, or the humanity of the child (the medical establishment has probably already done that.). Don’t jump to talking about trying again for another child. (Though if they go there that’s another thing.) But I am sure you wouldn’t say anything like that.

  2. Katherine April 19, 2008 at 11:50 am #

    Okay, thanks. I may email them that we want to get them something in honor of their children and ask what dates they want to use in commemorating their little ones. I hate to do it but I don’t think it is insensitive and I think it will be important to have the date on the candle if it will serve as a remembrance.

    No I wouldn’t say anything like that. I know they will try again in time. I just remember when I was pregnant with Cecilia I had dozens of people repeating to me how my life was “going to change” when she was born and while I knew they meant well I eventually (and hormonally) wanted to carry around a foam mallot and bop people for a) stating the obvious and b) sometimes saying it condescendingly even though they meant well. Even though I want as many kids as possible, I’ve been the dope to say “wow you must have your hands full” to a mother of 3. So I know it can happen and I know I can fall into the trap. But those were not situations so serious or delicate so I just thought I would ask not having been in such a tragic situation myself.

    Much thanks!!!

  3. RCM April 19, 2008 at 12:08 pm #

    Melanie, all wonderful ideas.
    I would like to offer what we do in our family that has been very healing for us and that is we include our lost baby in our litany of Saints.  So at the end of family prayer time in the evening (which is no longer than 15 minutes) we ask each of our patron saints to pray for us, and we include the Holy Family.  So we ask St Jospeh (pray for us) St. Mary (pray for us) St Anthony (pray for us) and Baby Grace (pray for us).

    Now, 2 things: First, we acknowledge her existence and her being a part of our family, even in death. Two, Big Girl now leads the litany and her father and I respond and she is old enough now to ask “who baby Grace is?”  It is away to make her present, and to connect with her.

  4. Melanie Bettinelli April 19, 2008 at 2:58 am #

    rcm,

    My sister-in-law and her family do the same. They’ve had three miscarriages and four children and always ask the babies in heaven to watch over their sisters and brother. It’s a nice custom. I always really like it when we’re there for family prayer time. Although I have prayed that prayer before (baby Francis, pray for us) and do believe Francis is in heaven and able to intercede for us, I’m not sure why but I feel more comfortable praying for my baby than asking for intercession. So our family prayers just ask God to “Bless Isabella, baby Francis, and Sophia”. But it is a nice option and perhaps someday we’ll add it to our litany.

    MommytoCecilia,

    I completely agree about the people who tell you that life is going to change and you have your hands full etc. I especially disliked the people who would tell me to sleep now while I can.

    I think with a miscarriage the biggest issue is just people saying nothing at all because they feel so awkward. I appreciated any attempt at consolation that acknowledged my grief. 

  5. Katherine April 19, 2008 at 7:04 am #

    Much thanks Melanie. I honestly don’t know their family or if either spend much time online. We met them back at University of Dallas when the grieving father, my husband and I were all working on our masters in theology together.

    So far I think the best thing I could find to give them would be this (http://myforeverchild.com/store/WsDefault.asp?One=378) – one for each child. I was thinking the blue bouquet and the Forget-me-nots since they named both of them traditional boy names. Unfortunately I don’t know both exact dates so I’d have to put something else on those lines I think.

    Do you think it would be better to send the mass card sooner or later as the Mass is not until Sept. 29th?

    Any other ideas are welcome.

    Also, are there wrong things to say I should avoid? Not having been there I’m concerned about saying the wrong thing.

  6. Katherine April 20, 2008 at 8:53 am #

    Melanie and anyone else who has had a miscarriage,

    They have no living children but two in heaven. Next month is May. Should I send a Mother’s Day card or would that cause more pain than comfort?

  7. Melanie Bettinelli April 20, 2008 at 9:33 am #

    No, I wouldn’t send a Mother’s Day card. I think that would be too hard.

  8. Sheila April 20, 2008 at 12:31 pm #

    I had my first miscarriage in March 07.  I agree with Melanie about importance of naming the baby.  I was in the doctor’s office with bleeding and thought I needed to name the baby “Marie-Gerard.”  That has helped so much, especially because it gives our other children a deeper sense of a person lost.  Also, after the D&C a Catholic funeral arranged to take the (precious little) remains from our non-Catholic hospital, which they kept for us until we were ready for a “Mass of the Angels,” a good two months later.  We went to the funeral home, and it was very emotional and healing too.  I started crying because they invited us to choose a small urn.  I told my husband, “Oh, it’s the only thing I will ever get to buy for this baby, so it has to be perfect.”  And it was and is.  It was a happy simple Mass with some friends and family, followed by pizza at our house.  Very simple and lovely and healing.  And both the little urn, which someday will be buried with one of my now-elderly parents (and the Mass date and the name) has given us tangible memories to remember that short and perfect gift of life to our family.  Also, one more thing, I took the final sonogram picture and framed it, with the engraved inscription of the baby’s name and the (likely) date of miscarriage.  That’s lovely to have as well.  God bless you, Melanie, for talking about this.  I felt so alone, but did what I thought would help in that moment and for the future.  My husband read after the Mass a stanza from an old favorite Emily Bronte poem that I hadn’t thought of in years, but which came back to me after the miscarriage: “Sweet love of my youth, forgive if I forget thee, while the world’s tide is bearing me along.  Other hopes and other desires beset me, which obscure but cannot do thee wrong.” 

  9. RCM April 20, 2008 at 4:36 am #

    You know, Mom to Cecilia, I would send her a “I’m thinking of you today card.”  I think it would mean a lot and let her know that you are thinking of her and her grief. 

  10. Melanie Bettinelli April 20, 2008 at 9:25 am #

    rcm,

    I like that idea.

  11. Ellyn April 21, 2008 at 10:29 am #

    These are such lovely ideas…

    From the perspective of a mother who has lost 3 babies overs twenty years ago, I would like to share one little remembrance that I am fond of… I was given one of those birth stone children necklaces for Mother’s Day several years ago.  I went back to the jewelry store to find some extra spacing beads because my six “gem kids” were clumping together.  I found some lovely silver star beads, so I bought three and added them among the other children in honor of their lost siblings.

  12. Sarah L. April 22, 2008 at 3:03 am #

    I think it’s extraordinarily important to acknowledge the loss.  We miscarried a few weeks ago.  My husband told his parents and they expressed their sympathy to him, but they have yet to acknowledge the loss to me personally.  And I saw them three times during the week following the miscarriage. 

    My mom said some of the dumb things you are not supposed to say, but I know she was overwhelmed with the information and was just doing her best.  My dad sent a card.  But to say nothing?  That hurts.

    I got a few cards from friends, and the promise of lots of prayers, and that was nice.  I started to think of my own response to friends who’ve undergone this experience, and I know I could’ve done better (e.g. send a card, at least! ).
     

  13. Melanie Bettinelli April 22, 2008 at 3:19 am #

    Ellyn, That necklace sounds lovely.

    Sarah,
    I am so sorry for your loss.
    Your husband’s parents are probably feeling very uncomfortable and awkward about not saying anything to you; but doubtless are stuck not knowing what to say and being afraid of saying the wrong thing. And once they’ve met you and not said anything, it becomes harder and harder to break the silence. I know, I’ve been in a similar situation and got stuck never saying anything. I know it hurts, but I wouldn’t assume that their not saying anything to you directly is indicative of anything more than discomfort and being at a loss for words.

  14. Sarah L. April 22, 2008 at 3:38 am #

    Yes, you are probably right.  They are good-hearted people.

    Two other things I thought of- we intend to plant some flowers that will bloom every spring to remind us of the brief springtime we had with our baby.  I am not much of a green thumb so I hope this works!  I think crocus are pretty foolproof.

    Also, we made a donation to a local pro-life group in memory of our baby.  This may also be an appropriate thing to do for someone else who has lost a baby.

  15. Leticia Velasquez April 23, 2008 at 9:20 am #

    I have suffered three miscarriages, and the book of life at the Church of the Holy Innocents in NYC was very consoling. We even visited it once, on the Feast of the Holy Innocents when the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal and Sisters of Life have a pro-life march. My three daughters knew that the book contained the names their brothers ( I named the lost children Patrick, Simeon, and Theodore).
    Kimberly Hahn, in the book “Rome Sweet Home” mentions miscarriage and says that our children can be present with us in a spiritual way in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, since the entire Communion of Saints is there. That’s when I ask the boys to pray for their father, who grieves more that I am aware. He was worried during my sixth pregnancy since the two previous had been miscarriages, so when Christina lived to birth and ONLY had Down syndrome, we were thrilled.

    There should be a ritual for burial of unborn children and healing after miscarriage. I attended a Mass on the Feast of The Presentation for miscarried, stillborn and aborted babies, where we wrote the child’s name on a scroll which was collected and brought to the altar. We lit candles in honor of our child (it was Candlemas) and this helped me over my first miscarriage. I am not grieving as much now that it’s seven years later, but I never forget those ‘birthday in Heaven’ anniversaries.
    Since childbearing seems to be over for me, I love to remind myself that I really am the mother of six.

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