Today I was privileged to see two great art exhibits. Both wonderful and I came home filled with spirit, feeling alive and grateful.
Those few of you who are local I recommend you take time to see both. For those of you who aren’t, I’m sorry you can’t see them. [Although if you go to Amazon and Google the second one there is a book and while many of the images I saw are not shown, the words are worth the trip.]
The first is an historic event at the Morris Graves Museum of Art, who has given over their entire space for an exhibition of Native Artists from local tribes. They rarely, if ever, give over the whole space to any exhibition. The only space that hasn’t been taken over is the gift shop, but the hallways, stairwells, youth room and all the gallery spaces on the first and second floors have been given over to this show. There are baskets, wood carvings, regalia, in addition to prints, paintings and images of many media and more. These artists are artists of place and to see this world and our time through their eyes is an invitation to see the world differently than many of us who grew up in white Euro-American cultures were taught to see it. The show is called River as Home.
The second show is titled Golden States of Grace: Prayers of the Disinherited. It is a photo documentary by Rick Nahmias and is at the First Street Gallery in Eureka. The black and white photo’s are large. They feature persons involved with many spiritual traditions, Native, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Islamic, devotees of Guru Ma Jaya and Santisima Muerte, and a deaf Mormon community. They are not the pictures we normally see of the faithful. These folks are in prison, working the streets, transgendered, poor, working their recoveries, making a new life after experiencing unspeakable genocides or simply living invisible lives of faithfulness.
While I’m writing this, I’m also watching Betty and Coretta. The combination of these shows and this film makes me think about the high price women and children have paid in advancing justice and restoring balance to the world. When I was young and for a long time afterwards, I thought doing the right thing was always rewarded with something like ease and success. Even though I grew up in the presence of a crucified Jesus, I grew up with a myth about the manifest destiny of the right and the good. We are used to hearing about the manifest destiny of a certain western worldview mostly the worldview of white men. But many of us also believe so much in the triumph of G-d’s beloved and blessed community, we aren’t prepared for the challenges and cataclysms that are a part of our becoming the individuals and the people we are meant to be. Sometimes we grow weary and loose heart.
In my case, I often thought the oppositions, challenges and/or the cataclysms of my life were because I was going about it in the wrong way and if I could have found the way to do it rightly it would have all unfolded differently not to mention happily ever after. But of course that was stinkin’ thinkin’. The forces resistant to change would have us believe it was indeed our fault; that if we would have only done things differently, things wouldn’t have unfolded as they did.
The ways of the courageous are varied. Our paths are not all the same. Some of us are activists. Some of us wrestle with inner demons until we win our freedom. Some of us swim up stream and some of are carried on currents whose origins are imperceptible even to ourselves. Some of us never give up and some of us come to peace only through surrender. I for one am not wise enough to know what path another must take, my hands and heart are full enough figuring out my own way.
I take comfort in knowing that I am not the only one paying attention. I’m not the only one who is trying to walk an intentional path to a world where we can know ourselves as sisters and brothers across the many divisions that separate us. I take comfort in knowing there are others who know we have something more to learn from the natural world and who are helping us see new possibilities of relationship with that world. I haven’t arrived. But I sense the possibility of a future some day, when more of us will know ourselves related.
There is a woman who lives in northern California, but several hours south of here. I think she scares me a bit. She reminds me of the wild woman archetype. She has embraced it. I’m still into being predictable and nice though I’m clearly not domesticated. On one of her several webpages she says: Each work of art created with love, is a prayer. I experienced that in the art I saw today. Except I didn’t just see it. The art drew me into relationships, many and varied, and it drew me into a place that felt like the place of prayer.
I have several of Shiloh’s posters and cards framed and on my walls. These are the words on one of them.
And this is how we heal…
We Dance the body Whole
Sing the songs Alive
Write the Stories New
Dream the Healed Mind
Love the People Together.
We celebrate Beauty, Wisdom and Possibility!
[Shiloh Sophia McCloud ©2006]
The Native communities of many places are doing just that in their cultural renewal movements. Many of the artists in all of our various communities are inviting the rest of us to do that as well. I for one am grateful for the many gifts the writers and artists, the playwrights and poets bring to my life.
It’s highly likely that none of us reading these words will set the world right in our life time. I am certain I won’t. But we can each of us in our own ways, open ourselves to the creative energies of life and love. These energies by whatever name we know them, can and do accomplish more in and through us than we can imagine, of that I am most certain. Blessings!