599 Summit Avenue

599 Summit Avenue

Things are getting dark and even a bit dull and dreary as late autumn barges in on us here in Minnesota. When I need a shot of beauty to offset the season’s built-in gloominess, I like to curl up in an easy chair with a warm drink and read the first chapter of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It’s luminous prose, and most of the time I just put the book down halfway through, stunned by the genius that knew how to work such magic with words.

Fitzgerald also lived in St. Paul, so earlier today I took a field trip to 599 Summit Avenue where Fitzgerald did much of his writing. Sitting in my car just looking at the dark stone row house felt like being at the scene of a miracle. After a while I drove away feeling competent, even confident, in taking on darkness however it comes to meet me.

Sometimes our faith, hope, and love also need a field trip into beauty to counteract the dark, cold seasons of our depleted hearts. Perhaps it takes the form of a poem that seems to let you spy on God, or Mahler’s “Resurrection Symphony,” or Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes. The beauty of God’s creativity touches us in deep-down places that often prove so immune to abstract ideas and cool reasoning.

I have 599 Summit Avenue, but where do you go to be touched by a grace too beautiful for words alone? These places turn out to be God’s address too, where we go for grace after grace.


Image: Wikipedia.org



About the Author

Joe McHugh is a spiritual director, retreat leader, teacher, and writer based in the Twin Cities. He contributes regularly to the National Catholic Reporter. His book, "Startled by God: Wisdom from Unexpected Places" is available at catalog.franciscanmedia.org. He can be contacted at jjmch1300@gmail.com.
  • wbua

    NYC:Most people go to Times Square for its brightness,but it’s not poetic,just
    busy;while blocks away is St. Patrick’s Cathedral,poetical and not busy.