The Mission of Art

Alex Grey, Journey of the Wounded Healer,
Alex Grey, Journey of the Wounded Healer,

Alex Gray, The Mission of Art, (1998), p. 200

“The birth of spirit in art is a precious alchemical flowering—a redemptive calling. Shut your ears to the naysayers within and without. Open your inner spiritual ears and eyes. Inwardly ask for spiritual assistance in your task. Watch for arrows of vision that pierce your heart…The art you produce is accomplishing your soul’s task.”

“The artist’s mission is akin to the alchemist’s task. The alchemist’s great work was the transformation of gross material in spiritualized substance…The receptive, contemplative viewer is “charged” and renewed by these repositories of mystic power. The loading of art with such transformative power is the alchemical goal of art, the creation of the magnum opus, the great work.”

Roots at Sunrise

Roots at Sunrise, Hidegard Hermitage, Benedictine Monastery, Erie, PA
Roots, Hidegard Hermitage, Benedictine Monastery, Erie, PA

Hanging over a small creek, in the woods surrounding a hermitage I visited for a few days beginning on New Year’s eve, were the softly dipping roots of this lovely Sugar Maple tree. Winter came while I was there, and I enjoyed watching the snow fall for hours (from the warmth of my heated hermitage). The many books and images on the green, and profoundly mystical, visions of Hildegard von Bingen (a Benedictine Abbess, 1098-1179) added much to the blizzard. Thank you to the Benedictine Sisters of Erie for creating a beautiful, accessible, and affordable retreat for seekers of solitude and spiritual renewal. I felt wrapped in their quiet and care. Another plus is the gorgeous pottery of artist-in-residence, Brother Thomas.

The Art of Quiet

legacy of the heartLooking for a quotation to add to a section of my book in progress, I found this lovely passage by Wayne Muller, from his book Legacy of the Heart:

Brother David Steindle-Rast reminds us that the Chinese word for “busy” is composed of two characters: “heart” and “killing.” When we make ourselves so busy that we are always rushing around trying to get this or that “done,” or “over with,” we kill something vital in ourselves, and we smother the quiet wisdom of our heart. When we invest our work with judgment and impatience, always striving for speed and efficiency, we lose the capacity to appreciate the million quiet moment that may bring us peace, beauty, or joy. As we seek salvation through our frantic productivity and accomplishments, we squander the teaching that may be present in this very moment, in the richness of this particular breath.

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