John and I went to a dinner and book discussion at Nazareth College tonight. I have so much to think about.
First, it was strange to be back on the campus where I worked for three years. I really loved working in the academic setting. I had forgotten how much I loved Nazareth. There are big changes, though, because there is a huge new building going up. I knew it was slated for the future, but I had no idea how enormous the footprint of the building would be. It is very exciting to see growth – especially since it is an academic building, a new Math & Science building. Between the dinner and the talk, John and I took a little walk around campus. It felt really, really good to be back on campus.
I have been looking forward to this evening since I found out about it. I knew the dinner would be a wonderful opportunity to get together with some friends I have not seen in a long time. John works with a group of Christians and Muslims on Interfaith Dialogue. I have participated in a number of events and was looking forward to seeing my old friends again. The dinner was everything I had hoped. The conversation was great and there was a lot of laughter.
The reason for tonight’s gathering was for a book discussion. Our friends, George Dardess and Peggy Rosenthal have written a book called Reclaiming Beauty for the Good of the World: Muslim & Christian Creativity as Moral Power. George and Peggy are a brilliant and inspiring couple. They have written several books individually and now they have written this book together. I have not read the book, but I really wanted to hear their talk. I was very interested in the theme of beauty. It seems like I have been drawn to the idea of beauty and grace since my vision began to deteriorate. Beauty has taken on a new meaning for me and I was eager to hear George and Peggy’s views of beauty within Christian and Muslim frameworks.
George and Peggy did not disappoint me. I can’t articulate all of their points, but one thing that they made clear was that beauty is meant to stand for much more than it’s current meaning of “pretty.” Beauty comes from God and has a moral value. There are beautiful actions, beautiful lives. I loved hearing their ideas. It felt so good to be listening and using my mind to try to understand. I remembered how much I love learning and studying. I realized that I haven’t done enough critical thinking lately. I really want to figure out how I can keep learning, even though reading is difficult for me.
There is another reason that I really enjoyed George and Peggy’s talk. They discussed their process of writing the book. I have thought a lot about whether I could write an article or book or something beyond this blog. Since I love writing my blog, I think I would enjoy writing something else, but I never seem to be able to make the leap to another type of writing. Hearing them talk about working through their decision-making helped me to see some of the steps I might take in putting together an idea for a book. It is something for me to think about – a dream for the future.
All in all, tonight was a most enjoyable evening. Beautiful campus, beautiful friends, beautiful discussion, beautiful thoughts, Beauty everywhere.