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Talent

I'm watching a man create beautiful bust sketches at the table next to me. It just flows, and out comes beauty. Now he draws a woman at another table as she continues to read, unaware of her participation in the art. It's clear that he must do this. It's who he is. I see him scan the faces in the coffee house over and over, choosing new subjects, taking pieces of the people around him and creating someone new on his pad. Every couple of minutes, someone new.

I am intimidated by talent. Almost everything I find threatening in the world is subject to my defenses: superiority, indifference, ridicule. On the surface, I can knock down almost anything that threatens to make me feel lesser. But not talent. It bursts through, shining too brightly. I appreciate-- I can't help it-- but there is also a feeling of deep inadequacy in my heart's response. I'm faced not only by beauty, but also by what I am not, by what I will never be. We all have limits, and it's a hard thing to be aware of them by watching others exceed them.

Narcissistic, I know. Better to face that and own it, if there is to be any hope of freedom. If I don't face it, I will be owned instead. Yet the hope of deliverance is not in me. How can this be? How can this work? I'm hit square in the face, yet again, by the cycle of faith and hope. Yet love is the greatest.

Just as I typed the previous sentence, the artist rose to leave; I took that moment to tell him how beautiful his work was. We had the brief, polite 30-second conversation, but that wasn't the important part. I had to speak to the beauty, to show appreciation for the art and thereby love to the artist. It was called for from me, called out of me, even in awkward, stumbling steps. Grace.

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