It was with great peace and joy that we lit the first candle of Advent this morning. It was a crisp 1C when I eventually summoned up the courage to emerge from under the blanket. The Christmas tree lights are hooked up to a timer and automatically switch on at 07:00, which in Berlin means it is still pitch dark. Both Lolita and I blinked in confusion but silently stared at the lights in awe, she in utter confusion for having forgotten overnight all about the tree, and me for the magical mood in the apartment. It was a good beginning.
When it comes to theology and Advent I always return to my Jesuit roots and refer to Ignatian Spirituality. Inspired by the concept of weaving together art and faith, I decided to run with this theme today as a my springboard for the Advent and subsequent Christmas reflections.
Art has two participants, the artist and the audience (this can be further defined as viewer, listener, reader, depending on the medium and genre), a relationship forged by both the art and an unconditional invitation. The communication does not presume that artist and viewer share the same time and space, but that is the fascinating thing about art, it transcends all barriers and the message is always open to interpretation based on circumstance and attitude.
The artist creates to express thoughts and emotions or preserve a memory, but has absolutely no guarantee in the beginning that his/her presence is known or that the message will be heard at all. Until reciprocity or acknowledgement is established, the art remains an open invitation, full of expectation and hope that someone, somewhere will step in and accept the invitation.
In its purest form, art is not created for pleasure but for existential affirmation. Not all of it is pleasing to the soul, in fact, much of it is intended to shake you out of the comfort zone and invite you into an intangible realm that somehow makes you question your own realities, or perhaps even be a catalyst to finding them. Faith works exactly the same way. It is not there to make everything peachy and perfect – but to make you stronger.
There are two previous blogs aptly connected with today’s reflection:
1. On Presence and Miracles
2. “At Your Age…”
It is not often that I can interconnect blog entries likes this, but every once in a while it all falls into place. Words are my art, and this is my invitation, my expression of faith.