Well, here I am at the Episcopal General Convention in Anaheim, embarking on my new volunteer role in the Episcopal Church (more on that later).
Because I arrived so late last night, I stayed at this sort of sketchy hotel (there are signs everywhere saying "this is a smoking establishment; smoking has proven hazardous to your health" or something like that) but it was a wonderful opportunity to connect with my new "boss" -- and of course we've discovered we've much more in common than we might have initially assumed. Isn't that always the way?
The theme of this convention is Ubuntu -- which is also the theme of the exhibit I have been curating for ECVA in honor of Convention -- and it seems to me that this is exactly what it's about: that ANY time we take the time to get to know someone -- no matter how different they may initially appear to be -- we will learn we have things in common. We are, after all, all members of the human family, and much of what we do and say and think about and worry about is stuff we have in common with the other members of the human family. The more we act on that assumption, the closer we will be to achieving peace: not just inner peace, but international peace.
So I'm thinking that the stated challenge of that Ubuntu exhibit -- to create a work of art which both conveys a sense of our connectedness with the human family and serves as a call to act on behalf of that family -- could well be a reasonable lifelong challenge for artists everywhere in every nation and denomination. Because, in a way, that is a big piece of what art is about. The artist, in his or her art, is saying, "This is what the world looks like to me," and those who choose to look at or buy that work are in essence saying, "Wow. Something in what you are seeing resonates in me, too."
I like to say that that "something" which is conveyed by the artist and then resonates in the viewer is that "portal to the sacred," Eckhart Tolle talks about. So in essence art -- at its best -- would always be an invitation to a deeper understanding of our commonality, and the way the presence of the divine vibrates through that commonality. But then, maybe that's too philosophical... but that's what's on my mind this morning.
So why the empty pool? Well, it was the view next to the elevator at the sketchy hotel. And it seemed rather poignant: all that elaborate setup -- the curvy pool, the chairs, the palm trees -- and yet no one was there to enjoy it, just me photographing it. It made me think of meditation -- that Divine table that is set for us, the one we're so often too busy to take advantage of. So lovely, so thoughtful, designed with us in mind, offering rest, relaxation, rejuvenation... and yet we persist in doing something else. For me, going out with my camera has a lot of that same refreshing feeling, and yet it's often hard to find -- or make -- the time to do it. But if God moves through our art, shouldn't we be consciously making more time and space for that to happen?
So I invite you, today, to stop rushing; to sit by the reflection pool that is meditation and allow the creative spirit to flow through you and out onto a page, or into fabric or clay or paint or a camera -- whatever medium allows you to express yourself -- and share that invitation by sharing your art with someone. Is that too much to ask? I don't think so; I think it's both the greatest gift we are given and the greatest gift we get to share.