Openness to Oddness
as a Spiritual Gift
praise be to all things odd
Loving the odd? The poem Pied Beauty by Gerard Manley Hopkins puts it so well. It is loving the fresh and the new, the strange and the beautiful, all that sweet and sour, adazzled and dim, fickled and freckled. These are qualities Hopkins saw and felt in world around him and in the mysterious Heart from whom all beauty flows. Patricia Adams Farmer gives us a sense of this way of thinking of God in Embracing a Beautiful God and “B” is for Beauty. She and I do the same in our jointly edited work: Replanting Ourselves in Beauty. The beauty is found in contrasts, in harmony and intensity, in the fickle and odd and stippled.
As creatures among creatures on a small but gorgeous planet, don't we, too, need to claim our oddness and welcome others into the strange? Don't we, too, need to recover the child-like art of freshly responding to what presents itself, sometimes so surprisingly and sometimes so harshly, but always different from comfortably familiar? I know I do.
In the spiritual alphabet of humanity, beautifully articulated by Spirituality and Practice, "I" is for Imagination, "W" is for Wonder, "B" is for Beauty, "J" is for Joy, "P" is for Peace, and "O" is for Openness. When I am open to Oddness, I find myself nourished by imagination, wonder, beauty, and joy, and even a strange kind of peace, because there's something consoling, something right, about a world that flames forth in multiplicity, in differences. It is said that the Truth shall set us free. My hope is that the Truth makes us odd, too. A world without oddness is a world without love.
-- Jay McDaniel. 1/20/2022