Tuesday, January 7, 2020

"it's all a part of sacrament..."

"it's all a part
of sacrament,
as holy as
the day is spent..."

Oh Carrie, you never let me down. When I need a song to speak my heart, I can always find one in your catalog. Thank you for "Holy as the Day is Spent," It is perfect.

I don't know if there will eventually be a song to go with this post -- if one come, wonderful. I will have posted it above, if you are reading this.  However, this piece is not song-driven, but love-demanded. It is a post of gratitude.

Sometimes a friend's contribution to the color of our lives is profound, but deeply subtle. Her impact on me is just that -- profoundly subtle, but infinitely rich.

You see, when I met her, I was older, but she was wiser and more sophisticated in ways that I didn't even know existed. The woman I am today, wears the impress of her love for all things beautiful.

I grew up in a house without art. Or at least that is my memory. I remember there were two paintings on canvas boards that were hidden away in a box.  They were from my mother's brief exploration into the world of painting as a child. But I cannot remember any other artwork on our walls, save the refrigerator art of 8 children.

By the time I met her, my collection of artwork was limited to a few framed prints and a wooden deer that an old friend had carved from a piece of maple he'd found in the Maine woods. I didn't know, what I didn't know. And I didn't know what it meant to love -- what I'd rarely been exposed to -- original works of art in a private home.  Oh, I was very aware of museum art.  But real people didn't own paintings, they only owned prints of paintings that hung in museums.

But my friend knew that original art was accessible, and rather than make fun of my "collection," she began to introduce me to her love for the way light catches the texture of actual paint on canvas. She sowed in me a love for the rich colors found in textile antiquities.  She cultivated in my heart a hunger for original works of sculpture that could be touched and held in your hands -- rather than just look at from the other side of a velvet rope at the Museum of Fine Arts.

We never talked about it. Her cultural awareness, my naivety -- but it was always there.  This actually surprises me today.  I was shy, but I was also quite eager to learn. I think that by the time we could have discussed it, I was too embarrassed to tell her that the framed Sargent print I'd purchased at the MFA Gift shop, was the finest piece of art I'd ever owned. So, I just watched her navigate the world of real art. And I watched with the absorbed interest of an acolyte.  I wanted to know everything, and she was generous with her sharing.

I remember the first original piece of art I purchased for my own space. It was a small oil on canvas by a young artist whose work made my heart tighten -- and I loved it. From there I branched into larger pieces with a bolder confidence in my own preferences for color, subject-matter, texture.

Before I knew it, I'd discovered the joy of patronage. To find a young artist whose work delighted my soul, and to begin  collecting, or gifting, his/her original work.

I remember asking my husband once if there was anything that he had always wanted -- thinking he might describe for me a particular model of car, or a signature guitar. But he became very quiet and told me that he had always wanted to own a painting by a childhood friend who had become a fine artist. He loved his work. That sealed eternity for us in my heart. And although gifting him with that painting took a couple of years, it is still one of my favorite moments in our marriage.

Now you may think that this is a strange post for someone who writes about the intersection of the spiritual and the visceral. The collision of the inner landscape with the outward experience. But that is just what this post is about.

For me, art is a sacrament. Webster defines "sacrament" as:

“an outward and visible sign,
of an inward or spiritual grace..."

Yes, this is what this post is all about. It is about a woman who introduced me to the sacrament of beauty. The "beauty of holiness.:  She could have left me to my own sensibilities. But instead she shared with me her love for what had life and texture, visual pathos and poetry.  I love her.  I think of her each time I escape into the deep and sacred space of a Brooks Anderson landscape, a Melissa Miller sky, a Caitlin Heimerl vista, a Debra Myers abstract, a Nancy Pollack "equation," a Carol Carter bird-in-flight, a Lillian Sly floral, or a Duncan Martin shoreline.

Today, our few walls are lined with the paintings of artists we love -- and believe in. Some have been purchased on a "whim" and others on installment plans. While we drive old cars, and buy most other things at resale/consignment shops, we invest in art. We invest in the birth of beauty, rising from the hearts and hands of those who are boldly and courageously willing to share their inner landscape with us. 

I cannot begin to say how grateful I am for the kindness my friend showed me in taking me to her favorite galleries, lunching with me at the Museum of Fine Arts - while discussing a recent exhibit, allowing me to hang her textile fragments in my office, introducing me to Shaker simplicity, or sharing her love of texture and color with me as if I were her peer in appreciating art. It changed me.

And yes, there is now a song. You may have noticed.

offered with Love - and fathomless gratitude to you -- my dear friend,


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