Blogs, new artwork, and other updates from sculptor Douglas W. Merkey

Musings on art, beauty, culture, aesthetics, and the spiritual life by wood wall sculptor Douglas W. Merkey.

My Walk on the Beach - The Line Between Beauty and Depravity

There is an invisible line where the surf meets the sand. It is a line marking the collision between beauty and vulgarity; an ongoing tussle between God’s soothing watery wonder-world and countless sad permutations of the human condition. 

To the right, sunlit diamonds dance on rolling cerulean and emerald hues. To the left, a child shrieks, a mother scolds, a man swears, and a crinkled Doritos bag blows like a silvery tumbleweed among a roiling mass of humanity. To walk this beach-line is to travel on the edge of two worlds the way a sleeper walks the edge between sweet, dreamy slumber and the harsh waking-consciousness of one’s own real-life challenges.  

For beauty-seekers with their feet still planted in this groaning world, walking this sandy beach-edge can both vex and relax. There is genuine beauty to be enjoyed, yet the acidity of fallen soil leeches into the bloodstream and often taints the moment of delight. The coexistence and lingering irreconcilability of these two opposing sensations can be maddening. It is to taste soothing sweetness along with prickly bitterness in a way that up-heaves one’s palette and ignites a longing for resolution.  

Of course, one could seek relief in brutish beauty-ignorance, unaware of the opulent delight presented in the blue-green wonders of the sea. Instead, just crack open other Schlitz, wash down a fist full of Habanero deer jerky, and go back to checking Facebook. 

But even then, beauty beckons with her enchanting voice of grace. She calls us back despite our depravity, ignorance, and captivation with the ugly. As we give ourselves over to her, profanities fade, engulfed by the soothing soundtrack of softly lapping waves and the visual delights of sun, wind, and wave. By grace, we can be delighted once more by the profound wonder of the sea and by the Artisan who created it all.