Thanks to Simon Marsh for posting Sparkling Waters. As he says, “a little pure joy for the eyes and ears.” My own reflection, my play on the water, is filtered through questions of those who feel in the doldrums and those who can’t be still.
Only becalmed to the senseless, the dead.
I share Simon Marsh’s reservations about those who insist on the authority of truth. I am not sure that the question of “what is truth?” is on many people’s minds (contrary to what some think). Pontius Pilate is an exception: he couldn’t see truth when he was staring him in the face (John 18:38). We are all too preoccupied for such philosophical discussion that the question of truth is left as a luxury for a small elite. The rest of us know when our interactions ring true.
I have been playing round with my new ArtSet app. Collapsing truth, as some people suggest is happening, I came up with a very different picture of truth. It is a picture which asks the question of whether my truth hurts – funny how we have that expression “truth hurts”. It’s a picture which raises the question about the quality of shelter, about whether there is hospitable space and about whether u r cared for.
It’s a picture which presents us with Ruth as well as truth. The book of Ruth is a story of loving-kindness. Ruth shows herself to be full of loving kindness to Naomi, her grief-stricken mother in law, and Ruth receives the loving kindness of Boaz who becomes her kinsman-redeemer. Ruth means compassion and pity. (Ruthlessness describes the absence of those qualities.) Boaz and Ruth are counted as sowing the seed of Jesus. Even though she was a Moabitess, and therefore foreigner, she is Jesus’ great (times many) grandmother – according to Matthew. It’s Ruth’s story which is often chosen by couples getting married. Ruth “plights her troth” to her mother in law:
Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die …
Truth is questionable. Just like Saint Paul, “we now see, only dimly in a mirror. As yet, we only partially know.” (1 Corinthians 13:12). We have only one pair of eyes and limited perspective. That is something that is factually true. But the truth that ignores the perspective of others, that hurts, that welcomes no stranger, that cares for no-one, is blatantly false. Truth is measured by what we do.
It has been good to be involved in the development of an Arts & Faith Network (for the Diocese of Chester), and to be “breathing space” at Stephen Broadbent’s studio yesterday with textile artists, stained glass artists, wordsmiths, dancers, painters, sculptors, actors, authors, poets, cooks, singers, preachers and “makers of pretty things”. Until yesterday the Network hadn’t been much more than an idea shared by a few people and it was difficult to put into words what it was about and what could happen. Now it has got legs, is on the road, and has its own story – “the day we met at Stephen and Lorraine’s, when our exploration of the interaction of arts and faith was facilitated by Simon Marsh with background percussion of water overflowing into a pond…..”
The (overflowing) River of Life
sculpture by Stephen Broadbent
at Warrington at the site of a terrorist bomb explosion
which killed two children.
There were so many good things, including a wonderful rendition of The Rose by Simon (spoken, not sung), and, we discovered a “surplus of meaning” as we joined our own creative endeavours to those of others. Surplus of meaning doesn’t mean that there is too much – rather, there is so much. The meaning of our insulation block sculptures co-mingled with the meaning given to them by others, with meaning pinned to meaning. Of course, Ricoeur was right. There is a surplus meaning as one meaning gives itself to another, transforming itself in the giving. Nothing we can do, or create can provide an adequate container for our meaning. Meaning is so abundant it has to overflow. It overflows into convivial and meaningful community, good times, great company.
There are, though, those in whom there is no sense of meaning – including some in this emerging network who described the meaninglessness of past experiences. Is this where art and faith come together, making sense when we are oppressively or depressively crushed?
What do you do when things go wrong – when you get egg all over your face and mis-manage situations? I know what I do – I blame everyone in the search for a scapegoat – except myself. The Hideous Milk Demon (thank you Joseph O’Hughes for the picture) reminds us of the dangers of upset emotion. It is, after all, no good crying over spilt milk. And it’s no good lashing out at those who left the milk out.
Upsetting emotion can spill all over others and bring unintended ruin as a consequence. It is far better to build a good and safe container that doesn’t spill. That way we can look at ourselves, own up to the mistakes and, as friend Christopher counselled me, “do not be disheartened”.
Friend, Simon Marsh, reminds us of the importance of positive psychology. Positive psychology underlines the importance of positive emotions to help us become more creative and flexible, as well as becoming more optimistic, resilient and “socially connected”. Positive emotions loosen the hold of negative emotions, and according to research reported by Barbara Fredrickson, help us to live up to ten years longer.