Clothing Optional?

Our September Saturday mornings have been blissful.
Our bliss comes via art classes at a local college. Being the savvy homeschooling mom she is, Katrina enrolled our children (yes, every last one of them) in Saturday morning art classes. So, while our kids get artsy and educated, we practice being empty nesters for two and a half glorious hours.
Our empty nest practice-runs revolve around coffee and conversation. Lately I’m finding myself day-dreaming of Saturday morning. A Costa Rican pour-over for me. A decaf latte for her. A scone to share. Ah, breathe in the peaceful, uninterrupted bliss.
But in the midst of our pleasure came a shocking dose of reality.
Like any school, the walls of the art college our children attend serve as displays. Some walls are pleasantly draped with images of trees, horses, birds and butterflies. Others hold Picasso-like paintings with noses and eyes free-floating amidst brightly colored shapes. One corridor is home to a collection of digital art. Another has pencil and charcoal drawings. There are self portraits, as well as the many variations of the ever popular “bowl of fruit.”
Then there’s the hallway that causes parents with young children to break-out in a cold sweat. You know the one. It has “that” type of “art.” Art with lots of anatomy – and I’m not talking ears.
A couple Saturdays ago we unknowingly wandered down the hallway of “ears.” Like walking into an unseen spider web, we were captured by scenes of the obscene. It took only seconds for naïve little minds to react with giggles, snorts, squeals and gasps. Fingers pointed. Mouths gaped. Eyes widened. Katrina and I moved with the speed of a SWAT team, closing gaped mouths and nudging frozen legs quickly past renderings of “ears” and other bits of anatomy.
We did some quick parental clean-up, dressing wounded psyches and toning-down rapid-fire jokes from our man-children who can’t help themselves. Unfortunately, there we more spider webs waiting.
After class, we took the opportunity to view some artwork that was part of a local competition called ArtPrize. Well, ArtPrize became a Sur-Prise as the very first exhibit had – you guessed it, “ears.” Since we had recently viewed sons of Adam and daughters of Eve sans fig leaves, this encounter was met with more levity than shock. The work we were viewing was compromised of digital images depicting people engaged in everyday activities. In a corner of the montage, there was a man taking a shower. Oh, boy. My son commented, “Well, at least he’s wearing a shower cap.” Small consolation, but I appreciate the optimism.
The parade of “ears” has been a distraction to my Saturday bliss. But in the distraction I’ve been forced to think more about art, innocence, beauty – even my marriage.
I can’t deny the human body is amazing. Attractive. Inspiring. Yet the appeal of our bodies is not permission for lingering looks, boundless exploration or public exposé. The human form is divinely crafted. In the fullness of body and soul it is imaged after God. This origin gifts humanity with intrinsic worth. A sacred quality. And what’s sacred should be honored, respected and protected. Held close and with care. To wantonly unmask the human form robs it of its sacredness. Outside of marriage, the revealed body becomes tragically common. For some, commodity.  
Like our bodies, marriage has a sacred quality. September Saturdays with Katrina have been wonderful because our relationship is divinely bound. Over coffee and a scone we solidify our bond and experience the beauty of marriage as we laugh, listen and share – with clothes on. The mystery of what’s veiled creates a wonderful, binding tension. Nude art breaks that tension with an undignified lifting of the veil. It grabs for something it inherently destroys. It’s an unfortunate expression of misplaced affections.
Perhaps I’m thinking too much about a few pieces of art. But then, maybe not.

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