|Picasso's Guernica in Madrid, 2015|
This is not the stuff that cruise ship tours do as deeply as I prefer.
I just did possibly my most whirlwind trip ever with my parents in Spain, France, Andorra, and Portugal. The trip moved from city to city because they really aren't as into art and music as much as I am. Mom certainly enjoys visiting churches. Dad enjoys the churches and plazas. But all the other stuff, well, they're more practical than I am I suppose.
But is an appreciation for the works of the muse impractical? The classical muses were the writer, the poet, the historian, the musician, the song writer, the astronomer, the dramatic actor, the comedy actor (and architect), the dancer, and the sacred poet. The sacred poet one has always been the hardest to define for me. She's also into agriculture and pantomime which are about as related as string theory is to string cheese. But these goddesses are there, with their side musings, in the pantheon of Greek and Roman (who borrowed liberally) mythology. And they inspire us to see and hear and think outside of our normal cloistered minds.
They are known for devoting themselves to their crafts. Through the ages, most people have an appreciation for the way these arts influence our emotions and thoughts. They inspire in positive and negative ways. And we feel civilized when we find ourselves surrounded by them.
Civilized by our muses. It seems odd to me that we can have our animal or rougher edges softened by the creative arts. How can cerebral arts bring us to pause and marvel? And yet it affects most of us in ways that are hard to pinpoint, connecting our daily lives to something distant and ever-present, something timeless and true. We grow and become more complete when exposed to the muses.
Although my parents may not want to spend all day amongst all the muses, they most certainly enjoy their preferred ones. The buildings and hymns in churches most certainly were represented. And they certainly found ways to become instant friends with strangers whenever they met other Filipinos. They could share stories and histories. It's like the muses, but more intimate, transient, fleeting.
Curiously, painting and sculpture was held in low regard by the ancient Westerners, and did not have a muse. They were the result of manual labor. This surprises me because I so value the inspiration that I draw from these arts. I think today's artists are held in greater regard because we realize that their hands are guided by as inspired a mind as any of the other muses.
Whether respected or not, the muses sing to us, speak us, enter our beings in ways that are unexpected and tangible. We can block them out, ears covered and eyes shut, but we're not immune to their effects.
I think that happens because most of the time we're not trying to cram them into our beings. Instead, we make ourselves open and receptive to them, and in doing so, we let their magic work us over and make us feel more complete. And by welcoming them in, we invite them to create more and inspire us further.
Isn't that similar to many of the relationships in our lives? Our friendships? Our loves? Our congregations? Rather than overtly trying to hard to bring them in, we just open ourselves up and serendipitously discover the ways they tug on the strings of our heart. And together we grow together in mutual affection and appreciation. So that we can laugh together. Cry together. Sing together. Pray together.
May we welcome the new and creative forces all around us and discover the creation from within.