Thursday, June 2, 2011

Art as evangelism

"Without its tail, the kite would fly off in the lightest breeze.  The tail serves as a rudder, to steady the kite and allow it to be directed.  Every force needs a counter-force to channel it effectively...

Our minds and our bodies aren't two different things.  They're made of the same stuff.  They make up one being.  We can never say where one leaves off and the other begins, nor can we say that one weighs down the other.

We can say, though, that we contain within ourselves all sorts of contradictions, checks, and counter-forces.  This makes life interesting.  Looked at positively, it means that we can understand any human possibility because we contain them all."

This is actually yesterday's reading from The Promise of a New Day, but, given that I spent some time this morning counterbalancing the birds in this image, it seemed somehow relevant.

So much of this work (I know: to you painters this is old hat, but for a photographer the challenge of building an image of parts is definitely new territory) is about responses and awareness.  When I completed this one yesterday, there was only one vertical bar, and the two birds on the right were facing the same way.

But when I came to it this morning, that felt unbalanced, and the large bird on the right was too close to the edge, so I just kept moving things around (that's the luxury of doing this on the computer -- so many opportunities to undo and redo) until it "felt right." But what does "felt right" mean?  And what does it feel like?

That's where meditation comes in handy: if I take the time to just sit, to watch what rises up -- where it takes me, how it feels, how it resolves, how it shifts -- then over time there emerges a subtle awareness of balance; moments when all the different "contradictions, checks, and counter-forces" have a sort of equal claim on attention, and there's this openness and acceptance that arises to both hold them all and be them all, so the distinctions between them are lost. 

And though I don't think about it at the time, looking at it objectively after the fact I can see the authors of this piece are right: the dissolution of those internal distinctions allows me to comprehend the dissolution of external distinctions as well.  Which doesn't mean I'm good at that -- it just means I can imagine another way of being in the world that embraces more of the" contradictions, checks, and counter-forces" that fly into awareness; that understands their importance and value to the total picture.

So if I know that feeling -- however briefly -- inside myself, and can imagine it outside myself, then the image becomes an intermediary; a place to both practice finding balance and to proclaim its possibility.

Hmm.  Art as evangelism -- but for faith, and hope (that oneness and acceptance and balance are achievable), rather than for a specific religious stance or story.

I like it!

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