50 years ago an extraordinary but very human and flawed man was assassinated as he and his wife rode in a convertible through the streets of Dallas, Texas; I was less than 3 years old – clearly I don’t directly remember the event. Among all the words attributed to John F. Kennedy, Jr. these to share today, the anniversary of his death:
“Too often in the past, we have thought of the artist as an idler and dilettante and of the lover of arts as somehow sissy and effete. We have done both an injustice. The life of the artist is, in relation to his work, stern and lonely. He has labored hard, often amid deprivation, to perfect his skill. He has turned aside from quick success in order to strip his vision of everything secondary or cheapening. His working life is marked by intense application and intense discipline.”
I am a firm believer in the absolute power of beauty – in all its infinite forms. Beauty opens us up to living more authentically. As a spiritual practice ‘beauty’ can be equal in loneliness as the existence of an artist – sometimes they are not mutually exclusive. So much in our world is of the lowest common denominator, base, riddled with incompetence and unworthy of our Divine nature. Within beauty, time stands utterly still even as we are flooded with emotions ranging from reverence to gratitude, even as tears stream down our faces and our heart clenches and releases in spasms of joy. In art, the sacrifice brings forth beauty.
I was recently introduced to the exquisite end result of intense artistic labor as offered in the form of two Croatian men, Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser, playing as 2Cellos. That I am an utter sap for the mournful sound of a cello being played (those, and oboes) isn’t the point – because they also play astonishing, original, ‘covers’ of rock music that kill it! Sulic and Hauser playing Benedictus is a breathtaking, ethereal pain experienced in something absolutely perfect. The look on each of these men’s faces as they play is humbling to witness – the zone of rapture (see also Il Libro Dell Amore, Vivaldi Largo). But they rip into Highway to Hell with a virtuosity that is stupefying, head-banger hot, wildly crazy, and cannot be denied (ditto to also mention Where the Streets Have No Name, We Found Love).
I just received a feel horrible/feel great video, a PSA originally done in Ireland, from the UpWorthy folks moment ago – how the simple gesture of holding someone’s hand can mean so much (and, of course) this also made me cry and subsequently post to Facebook:
“Stand up for LOVE! No bullying. Live in kindness, generosity of spirit, beauty.”
Combined with the blessing of 2Cellos Benedictus, suddenly (for a moment only perhaps) I feel like we, as a society, have a better shot at realising our greatest potential, of living in, acting as though we carry the light of God around inside of us just waiting for opportunities to let it pour forth like an amphora of artistic human perfection – for isn’t living well in and of itself a reflection of beauty?
We, frail humans, negate our contributions with words such as “I’m just…” – a man I respect enormously recently express this to me about his role in the world, I had qualified my own efforts with words to a new acquaintance via text the same way …“I’m just”. Agnes Bowie, an incredible hand-knitter, whose art is offered through my Fair Trade on steroids ecommerce venture, has been creating beauty and warmth with her hands for more than 79 YEARS! She is a virtuoso with wool and needles yet, she often expresses something similar about her abilities. We are all artists filled with beauty aching for expression, to manifest something larger than ourselves, to leave our imprint, to inspire, challenge, to elevate our common existence to beauty that fills our hearts and spills our tears to nurture humanity.
“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” ~ Edgar Degas
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