Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Tea Theodicy

God is perfect. Indeed, He is Perfection.

What would be interesting for a Perfect Artist to create? The imperfect:

He is an Artist:

Hath not the Potter power over the clay, of the same lump, to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
--Romans 9:21

The imperfect does not fail to please Him:

He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 
--2 Corinthians 12:9

What sort of art is this?

Wabi sabi is the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete, the antithesis of our classical Western notion of beauty as something perfect, enduring, and monumental. 
--Leonard Koren

Wabi sabi is an ancient aesthetic philosophy rooted in Zen Buddhism, particularly the tea ceremony, a ritual of purity and simplicity in which masters prized bowls that were handmade and irregularly shaped, with uneven glaze, cracks, and a perverse beauty in their deliberate imperfection. The Japanese philosophy celebrates beauty in what's natural, flaws and all. The antique bowls above are prized because of (not in spite of) their drips and cracks. What if we learned to prize the drips and cracks in our messy lives? 
--Gretchen Roberts

Wabi-sabi understands the tender, raw beauty of a gray December landscape and the aching elegance of an abandoned building or shed. It celebrates cracks and crevices and rot and all the other marks that time and weather and use leave behind. To discover wabi-sabi is to see the singular beauty in something that may first look decrepit and ugly. Wabi-sabi reminds us that we are all transient beings on this planet—that our bodies, as well as the material world around us, are in the process of returning to dust. Nature’s cycles of growth, decay, and erosion are embodied in frayed edges, rust, liver spots. Through wabi-sabi, we learn to embrace both the glory and the melancholy found in these marks of passing time.
--Robin Griggs Lawrence

The tea-room (the Sukiya) does not pretend to be other than a mere cottage—a straw hut, as we call it....an Abode of the Unsymmetrical inasmuch as it is consecrated to the worship of the Imperfect, purposely leaving some thing unfinished for the play of the imagination to complete.
--Okakura Kakuzō

But what if this imperfection is something more? Okakura tells us that "Perfection is everywhere if we only choose to recognise it."

Evoking the perfection in imperfection the tea master Sen no Rikyū often used to quote a poem by Fujiwara Ietaka:

Show them who wait
Only for flowers
There in the mountain villages:
Grass peeks through the snow,
And with it, spring.

Perhaps everywhere we look we see agony and death, we see the Cross. But of such does God make Easter, of such cracked tea cups does the Potter make perfect art. By His grace, in our weakness is His power.

Do you see snow? Look again: a field of white lilies.