Being Alive Is Spiritual

Art is spiritual, too.

Odilon Redon

“I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,
hopeless.

Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
and sang.”

— Mary Oliver — I Worried.

*

God

my daughter asked me
what I believe about God.
at this late point in my life,
after years of study
in the religions of man
and his creation
of gods and satan,
I told her I believe
in the evidence;
listening to water drops
off ice crystals
the smell of fresh moss
on the forest floor
the whine of the wind
among soft pines
the dulcet greens
of the Caribbean seas
the rush of high water
on the Maine coast
the feel of fresh sea salt
on my flesh
the cathection
of human love
the entanglement
of souls
as they go about their business
the eyes of communication
of dogs
and my adoration
of her and everything
that she does
dance, sing, wonder,
lose herself in contemplation
of science
and the intricacies of Camus
and an inborn daimon
of kindness and justice.
pressed by the existentialists
and hounded by
the idea of the holy,
Tillich called God,
and my meager evidence,
the ground of being.
that seems adequate
for me.

— Donald Gray

Simple delight is under appreciated. I’ve seen the ability to notice the beauties and simple pleasures offered by life more in women, artists and poets than in the general population. The toiling masses haven’t the time to see and love the passing loveliness of the world. They are obliged to keep their eyes on the prize — survival and its complications.

Struggling to “be somebody “ on the social stage relies on ego energies, which confines you to a circus cage where you learn to perform your act in the hopes you’ll be paid enough to have a life. But what is “a life,” anyway?

Art is about humans waking up to existence on this planet by sharpening our perceptions and sympathies for the ongoing creation of life everywhere, in all its forms. In that sense, it’s a spiritual endeavor. The manifest world is spiritual but we only see that when we stop and spend time with it, noticing small details and large interconnections.

This work is toward more than survival. It is traveling the path of love, of soul, of spirit. Ego and self promotion can sneak in the back door since it’s so hard to survive as a mere lover of beauty in our society, but the core mission of an artist is to see and love more deeply. This is not some peripheral, inconsequential task. It’s firmly in the arena of the avant-garde of human consciousness. Unless the general level of world consciousness is raised, we risk planetary catastrophe.

In the midst of the current stampede for recognition and money, there are those who choose to go in a different direction. I felt pulled toward the arts since childhood but I was confused by the requirement to have a public profile. After all, the important thing is the art itself and the ideas offered to the people who are waking up, isn’t it?

Becoming “somebody” takes a lot of effort that could be better used in creating a penetrating perception of reality.

I don’t agree with the kind of spirituality that rejects the physical world. The natural world, the world of physical delights, is no less spiritual to me than any other as long as you enjoy and release each experience. Of course, the grasping and hoarding of possessions and experiences is an ego trap, but as long as we live lightly we won’t get stuck there.

I’m not sure how common it is for artists and poets to see their work in a spiritual light, but I think that the value of their work rests in its contribution to heightened awareness of the true nature of existence.

We humans are on a journey of discovery of what Creation is and our role in it. We are just getting started, evidently, but we better get on with it because our present level is insufficient to the task.

Andrea Kowch

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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