Father James "Jeff" Behrens
I went recently to Coney Island, in Brooklyn, N.Y., and I took a lot of pictures. I made note cards out of some of the pictures and sent one to Amie, a long time friend of mine who lives in Staten Island -- right across the Narrows from Brooklyn and, therefore, not all that far from Coney Island.
We have corresponded for as long as I can remember.
Amie wrote back to me and did so on a card that she made. She wrote how much she liked my card. It brought back a lot of memories for her, for she used to go to Coney Island as a teenager and how she loved the fireworks that were set off every Tuesday night.
She said my card is beautiful. And so is hers. It is a card she made by hand. She wrote all over the inside and back. She could not write on the front, for that is adorned with little plastic colored beads on a background of deep blue.
The beads are glued on in a fan like shape -- not unlike the majestic tail of a peacock. But they are more like a burst of fireworks on a long gone Tuesday night, on Coney Island. It is a special card, one that I know was made with love and especially for me.
I know that my card brought back good and warm memories for her. I cannot remember exactly what photograph I used for the card -- I made a bunch of them. Yet I like Amie's better. It brings back other memories to me, memories of all the times we have written to each other and how the letters and cards have carried so well the ups and downs of the human heart in its search for beauty, for goodness, for God.
Amie is an artist and has used her gift to bring the mystery of God to view -- through pastels, slides and, in the case of the card sitting here on my desk, little dazzling plastic orbs of color and arrangement.
She lets go her of art very easily. She gives away a lot of it -- and somehow it seems to move her to create more, to give away more.
She recently told me that she will soon be heading to a Benedictine monastery in Erie, Pa., for a stay. I know some of the women there -- and I know that Amie will be welcomed and loved. The community there thrives on art and any artist is welcome.
There are times I wonder if we have reached a point where words need a rest. Have we exhausted them? Maybe. Words that try to seize mystery are woefully overburdened.
And so it is that art then takes the stage and has its "say." It communicates beauty in color, form and wonder, and it satisfies our restless need to create something near divine with whatever we have at our disposal. Then some of us, like Amie, give it away.
I cannot express in words how much her friendship means to me. I have learned so much from her -- she is a traveler who is seeking the divine because somehow she has already found it. And she won't let it go. She can do that -- and still give it away.
Father James Stephen (Jeff) Behrens, O.C.S.O., serves at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, 2625 Ga. Highway 212 S.W., Conyers. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.