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Lions Roar : November 2011
SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2011 88 be taking the garbage out or something. Other Arthurs hear the phone, other people find the right color, meet the girl, get married, and have everything in life just like they want it. I’m the only failure around here. Jeez.” “Me too,” I said, and for a moment he looked confused. “Well, thanks for taking me to look at the paint and all,” he said, “and hey, don’t forget to call. I might hear the phone. You never know.” Arthur did end up buying some paint and having a good try. He painted spar- rows that looked like square bomber planes and people that looked like robots. Finally, he settled on brick buildings, which did not require a single curve. The bricks were gray, blue, red, purple, pink, and green. Failure disappoints, shames, crushes, stings, and burns. Yet Cadenza says to failure, “You’ve led me by the hand to the only water that reflects me.” And it led Arthur to rainbow colored bricks. Failure is the point beyond which nothing works. It breaks into parts, shatters into essentials. It doesn’t exist. Yet failure forces open a middle ground where we can exist, if we choose to, in some relation to para- medichood, St. Francishood, or buddha- hood. Depend on it. Failure doesn’t exist. Arthur’s longing to paint St. Francis is a longing for the mundane chaotic where paint needs to be mixed with turps and linseed oil, and soiled knuckles need to be scrubbed with old rags and pumice soap. Arthur’s longing is for a place where peo- ple allow themselves to do things accord- ing to their ability. It is the middle place he’s never been able to occupy. Arthur still does the work of holy longing, con- juring the graceful image of St. Francis. The longing is the cure. Every Thursday, Arthur volunteers at the hospital, deliver- ing mail to terminally ill patients. Leaning slightly forward over each bed, Arthur’s body makes a gentle curve. He asks the person how they are and thinks up some little joke to make them laugh. He gives them messages from the world. The things he can’t paint and the Arthurs he will never be do not cross his mind. Every Thursday Arthur is St. Francis. ♦