Friday, May 21, 2010

Pandorina morum

Were we not talking about microorganisms? I ran across this this morning and had to put it up, if only to accompany the painting in the last post. This is a microorganism, not abstract art, as drawn by Sister Catherine Francis Regli in her master's thesis from 1941. Drawn right into her typed thesis, in pen and ink. No place for timidity or sweaty palms. And there are 53 such illustrations, drawn with the same delicacy and precision.

Makes me think of illuminated manuscripts. Makes me think of...a lot of things. I was talking to a biology professor recently and he stated how incredibly hard it is to get students today to look into a microscope and draw--even crudely--what they are seeing. Aside from lacking all patience to do such a thing, they just don't "see," he said.

I was rather a science geek in school. Catholic kids back then saw science as a grand adventure, a peek into the mind of God. I think science requires an inherent belief in reason, order, benevolence, and a Creator. A background, if you will, for seeing. "Let there be light."

Some years ago, when I was drifting away from the Buddhist fold, after years of seeing everything as appearance, as untrustworthy, where one idea is as bootless as the next-- I took a course in Aquinas. The professor tossed out one day, almost offhandedly, "Oh, yes, the principle of identity: a thing is what it is." I felt like I had been plunged into a refreshing bath of cold water. A thing is what it is! Of course! If, that is, you believe in things, and your ability to comprehend them. If you believe the world is reasonable. If you believe...

Sister Catherine Francis, if she got her master's in 1941, was probably teaching when I was attending school. Men and women like her led me to the same fountains of faith from which she had imbibed.