In his magnificent little book Windows of the Soul, Ken Gire writes that we have been given the gifts of art, music, sculpture, drama and literature to lead us out of our hiding places…to lead us along in our search for “what was lost.”
Gire writes, “We painted to see if what was lost was in the picture. We composed to hear if what was lost was in the music. We sculpted to find if what was lost was in the stone. We wrote to discover if what was lost was in the story. Through art and music and stories we searched for what was missing in our lives.”
Gire is right, I believe. When we are captivated by forms of art, we connect with something larger than ourselves that fills in the missing emotions, relationships, discoveries, joys.
Stare at a museum or gallery painting, or one that hangs on the wall in your home and office. Enter into the mind of the artist. What was he or she searching for when they painted? How does the artist speak through the painting to you, the observer?
Listen to a piece of classical music, an operatic solo, a CD of jazz. Do you hear the searching emotions of the musical artist? Are you on the search with them?
Breath in the beauty of a fine sculpture, be it wood, stone, glass. Marvel at how one person’s creation brought order out of chaos, detail out of generic mass. What were they seeking to build that their world did not already possess? What would you construct?
Flip through the blank pages of your journal or diary. Grasp lightly the pen in your fingers. See the stroke of letters, words, sentences, paragraphs, stories. Stories about your life, what it is and what it could be. Stories of others, imaginary and real. Where is the literary search taking you this time?
An artistic lifestyle enables us to make sense of the search for what is lost, and to enter that search together.
The key, however, is taking such inspiration and acting upon it in order to make the reality around us more meaningful. We can be inspired all day long by artistic living, but at the end of the day it is imperative that we strive to make our real-world relationships, vocations and communities the best they can be.