New York City is where specks of dust aspire randomly with all their cunning to become grains of sand.

On this hot morning before the summer solstice I ride the A Train heading downtown.

The daunting and teeming map of the New York City Subway System is posted to confront me and do you know what I perceive with such clarity?

In the colored lines of the routes crisscrossing this map the veins and arteries carry within their conduits the inhabitants who journey as the lifeblood of the City.

Looking down from a divine perspective at the grid of blocks formed by major streets from uptown in Harlem to midtown and downtown in the financial district, and from the East River to the Hudson, a vast mosaic presents itself.

In the grid of the City I discern the squares of an immense chessboard upon which to imagine a grand civilization of animated chess pieces moving in an unwinnable game of chance against a Grand Master.

At the moment disquiet has clenched my spirits in a tight, tin fist.

The pieces of my Life are scattered as the shards of a glorious, porcelain flowerpot, which has been prodded by a persistent gale from the edge of a high
balcony to fall onto the flagstones of a verdant patio.

In seeking to assemble artfully the pile of broken porcelain pixels into some semblance of order and arrange them with telling Beauty and Meaning, only a precious few of the odd shards will make the mosaic of my Life into a mindscape worthy to behold.

Still, I am the Artisan of the mosaic of my own Life slaving under the creative direction of a Master Builder although nothing I do seems to please.

With the innate ache of all good Artisans, whose hands glisten from the clean, wet clay of their trade, I yearn for inspiration.

Finding no better method for my disquiet, I am given to study with my wife the mosaics of Genius crafted by other Artisans in the subway of New York to raise me up so as to walk with sure footing through the inspiration radiating from their brilliant works of Art.

Amid so much chaos underground in the rushing masses of humanity hurtling as passengers in transit within these old Engines of Life through the cavernous, stone tubes carved-out beneath the City, few pause to admire the wholeness, harmony and radiance of the work of the Artisans who created these masterpieces.

Most subway passengers seem to glance at the mosaics unmindfully to confirm where they may be in relation to their destinations or arrivals, which are so rarely endpoints but lead elsewhere above-ground.

I’m at a complete loss as to what to make of Life underground.

Apart from the oppressive burden of transit, the Mosaic Art is the most intriguing aspect of the journey among so many lost souls dwelling here.

I study other passengers in transit mindfully with a keen, quiet eye.

Epiphanies ensue randomly and fitfully. Consider it riding the E Train.

After spending so much Time here, who can help but wonder why all these people live as they do in this underworld of strewn souls?

Have they, too, abandoned their freedom and their free will in brief sojourns to destinations offering them outcomes so often of elusive value?

Wherein resides the Joy and Meaning of Life in riding the A Train?

In this sea of vacant Shades crammed into these tiny, hot, suffocating train cars I am witness to the pain of their journeys painted upon their faces like the make-up of actors performing in a long-running, tragicomic stage play Off-Broadway.

As a source of inspiration I have taken-up reading the "Epiphanies on Grace" by that uplifting, intellectual powerhouse, Reverend Ariel Bueno, PhD, whose awakenings help to quell a burning heart and raise the spirits with his ruminations.

When you consider all the brilliant books that you’ve read over a lifetime, you begin to see a mosaic constructed by the pixels of every book, laid side by side, to shape a picture of the landscape of the intellect in the same way that, when you fly over England in daylight hours, the hedgerows define the enduring Beauty of the English countryside.

In my disquiet I make little sense of this shuddering, round-trip journey.

Who knows what will become of my petty notes from underground?

Just now I feel the pique of invasive advertising posters counselling how to behave in this underworld.

Still, these brazen banners have a purpose: to goad us into commercial action or into social restraint.

Sitting across from me, a young woman about 17, a smallish lady wears a bleak mask of defeat as she holds a boy, maybe six, upon her lap. Is this schoolboy her brother or son? How Life would be so daunting, if the latter, for a child minding a child.

Out of concern for their well-being, they’ll be named in my long prayer list of lost souls haunting the underground as fellow travelers.

Faith is the given name of my ignorance of the universe beyond the powers of intellect otherwise to fathom.

Two antithetical views of Grace intrigue: the first is expressed by St. Augustine who advises that Grace cannot be earned. He reasons that humans cannot place God in a position of debt to humankind simply for behaving like decent human beings according to the Covenant.

Pelagius argues a contradictory position and denies original sin but imagines that good works can't do any harm to one’s divine standing.

Augustine took righteous umbrage to such heresy.

Of this brief leitmotif concerning Grace, would a person’s good works make a difference if you were an omnipotent and omniscient Being?

The worst behaved and most unworthy may well be transformed most by Grace.

What’s the useful purpose of struggling to justify the just?

After honestly observing the conduct of those riding to Wall Street, what does God think about such a randomly abundant money supply?

Can you not tell more about a person by the earnest expression of humility than by the artifice of wealth?

Consider the saints, seers and messengers whose power is derivative of integrity steeped in humility for which masses of humanity adored them.

As the underground sign counsels: “Step Aside and Let Others Go First.”

The first shall be last. And the last shall be first.

Disembarking in Brooklyn at Borough Hall, I pause to gape, as if rapt in an Epiphany, at the lovely, neglected sign, above a well-worn bench, designed with such sturdy precision and Art for its simple purpose long ago. How many weary travelers over decades have sought even a moment’s respite, while waiting underground for the next train, upon this humble wooden bench beneath this mosaic?

The Meaning of homonyms for my destination leaps from this glorious mosaic to incite a riot of heightened awareness and leave me dizzy in the wake of their ironic overtones.

The spoken name of my terminus at Borough Hall mocks me as an underground man burdened to climb too many steep, steel steps to ascend into the blinding daylight above-ground as it assaults my blinking eyes.

Squinting and wary of wanton predators upon arising from the deep burrow like the groundhog of Thoreau’s "Walden," which landed in a stew pot simmering over a wood fired stove in his cabin, I strain to gain my bearings.

Hindered by futile, pecuniary pretexts I live on borrowed Time after morphing into a poor, American relative of Leopold Bloom.

Indeed, my transitory destination at Borough Hall – as I lack any long-term itinerary – beckons and suffers every halting footfall with a scale of indifference, which can only be known in a borough of New York.

Fortunately, we may find solace in the lovely Mosaic Artwork so prolifically omnipresent in the underground.

Grace enabled me to become Mindful of the mosaics as I had traveled past them so many times every day as a passenger in transit on the way to work. Ever since her photography project this summer at Columbia toward her MFA, I linger to admire the Mosaic Art with my wife.

With a true aptitude for Beauty, when Grace invited me to be her photographic lackey, I agreed to lug equipment and keep at bay the odd denizens lurking underground.

Truthfully, I adore her Beatific presence, preferring her company above all others, and sense she had Faith that our collaboration in this creative project might cheer me in my long, intense and deep disquiet.

She proposed a brief book intermingling her photography and my writing into a creative chowder. As a new novel, "Watch List," became mired in a literary purgatory, while I laboriously tapped content into an iPhone app on trains and subway cars, I didn’t see any harm in it.

In her divine and eminently patient wisdom Grace proved to be right, yet again: as our project gained some traction, the therapeutic effects upon my disquiet began to improve my spiritually distressed outlook on Life.

Although only a summer’s creative journey, I warned Grace it was reasonably beyond the realm of possibility that such artistic therapy could become durable in its benefits or even curative in my bleaker case.

Nonetheless, sometimes I become so enraptured and lost within the Beauty of a mosaic underground that I pose a vexing question: when is a tile the mosaic and when is the mosaic a tile?

Rich Meaning must reside somewhere beneath the grim dust of their pale, gentle pixels. Art and Literature and Music as Humanities do connect to a deeper Meaning of Life and we are richer for it.

Muttering the whisper of a Prayer of Thanksgiving for my dear Grace and our family, the words are all but lost in the earsplitting din of Brooklyn.

Although the underground diminishes me, sojourns there must inform some elusive, existential purpose.

Otherwise, Life seems as senseless as a box of rocks.

Lumbering toward the MetroTech Center, I pause rapt in disquiet to reflect upon a sign, posted like a meek mosaic in colossal, block letters in the front window of a Chinese restaurant, which reads:


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Published on November 15, 2015 08:14 • 418 views • Tags: art-of-grace, david-b-lentz, fine-art, grace, lentz
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message 1: by David (last edited Nov 15, 2015 10:35AM) (new)

David Lentz Check-out some of the original, 4-color photography of the stunning, masterpiece mosaics of the New York Subway publishing in January 2016 within THE FINE ART OF GRACE: A NOVEL on my Goodreads' Author's Profile.

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