Saturday, November 17, 2012

Deep Communication

I was recently present at a "celebration" event (some would have referred to it as a funeral, but that would be a misnomer in this case) for a woman I had met a few years before. Although I did not know her well, I was happy not only to attend, but to participate on some level as well. It was a remarkable conclusion to a remarkable life that had been lived well and to more than the fullest extent.

You might wonder what a funeral might have to do with photography or art. As I sat among the group celebrating this lady's life, and being surrounded by some marvelous and captivating music, I began to ponder some of the more profound aspects of this thing we call art. What is it about artful expression that so captures us and draws us into its sphere? How can it gain such access into the deeper regions of our minds, our emotions, our spirits? Why are some of us so driven to produce it and attempt to excel at it?

The music I was hearing was certainly calling out, and speaking to my soul. I experienced the need to respond, and so I did at the appropriate opportunities which were offered. The art of music is obviously brimming with what we would call communication– not simply the transfer of information, but the interchange of something much more more significant and vital.

UNEXPECTED LIGHT, © Bill Brockmeier, 2012
all rights reserved by the artist.
Several times the event was punctuated by profound and relevant periods of prayer. These were not intrusions or distractions in the least, but existed entirely within the flow of the moment. Prayer led to music which flowed into prayer which curled around more music which embraced yet more prayer. The praying and the music all seemed to be involved in the same process, which was a conversation involving those in front who were leading this celebration, as well as those of us in the "audience," and of course, God Himself.

It was clear that there was a profound parallel and resonance between the communication offered through prayer and that offered through musical expression. It was only the mode that was different, and that not by much. The depth, the intensity, the value, and the beauty of each was similar. Each was concerned fundamentally with taking a precious and rich gift from who knows what depths of the heart, bringing it to the surface, and expressing it to one who was listening.

On the drive home I thought more about this and realized that nearly every art form, whether sculpting, painting, poetry, or <<fill in the blank>>, has the goal and capacity  for deep, rich conversation between two or more individuals. And, of course, that is precisely the point and power of prayer as well.

I remember the now-cliched zen koan– "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?"  I would paraphrase that as– "If someone produces a creative work and no one is there to receive it, is it really art?" I am convinced that real art must have this aspect of true human conversation to it or it is sterile and empty.

And finally, "If someone 'prays' out into the void, not knowing for certain if there is Someone there listening, is it really prayer?" Simply speaking out into the universe is not really conversation as much as it is wishful thinking. First of all, know Who you are speaking to, and then take sufficient time and attention to listen. You might be amazed at what you hear.

1 comment:

Harold Teel said...

Bill, this is quite good and profound. You have said what so many have tried to say for a long time. Truly you are not only an artist of photography but an artist of words. Thank you for your insight into a realm which many remain quiet.
Your friend,