How can we learn to embrace the future that God has waiting for each of us? As we consider the ideas of transformation of last week, let us press on to the goal and lean into filling our hearts with the creative energy to thrive in these new landscapes of the heart.
In walking through the Freer Gallery, I am struck by Whistler’s use of musical terms, and the beloved Peacock room, named by the artist, Harmony in Blue and Gold, resonates loudly to me its musical wisdom. It is important to note that Whistler was an artist of the Aesthetics movement. These artists proudly proclaimed “Art for Arts Sake” as their battle cry. However, this observer finds it interesting that in the artist’s process of creating a work of art that has no hidden message, he still had so much to say. Clearly, no matter how hard we try to suppress our beliefs and feelings, it is impossible to totally hide them…they usually come leaking out.
I can see here that Whistler believed that sometimes you must go to battle for the things you hold most dear, and in the process, the energy this creates in the world will produce beauty….that some things are worth defending. So if you like, watch this video from the Smithsonian library to see the product of this notorious battle of artist against businessman. The Peacock Room
Now that you have heard the story of Whistler’s industrious outpouring of artistic creativity that blasted the walls of this room with decorations of gold without thought of his patrons wishes and then demanded a King’s ransom for his fee..
Imagine yourself standing in the middle of all this artistic energy. On one side of the room is a western woman dressed in Asian costume standing with a dignified pose and at the other end of the room, your attention is pulled towards the diagonal positions of the battle of the Fighting Peacocks called “Art and Money”. One side is motionless and serene, the other filled with action and drama. To fully experience the tension of this atmosphere:
- Vertical lines = pride and majesty vs. diagonal lines = dynamic energy and passion
- Blue = a cool color of calm, peace and tranquility vs. Gold = a hot color of illumination, wisdom, and excellence.
- Modernism of the west vs. traditionalism of eastern ideals.
- Art for Arts Sake vs. the Artists need for Money.
The yin-yang of these opposites, or rather the pull or tension between these two extremes strikes a dissonance in us that holds our attention like a passing train wreck. We just can’t resist the spectacle of it all.
Can these opposite expressions of beauty co-exist? or must we choose between these two extremes?
Often we think of harmony as a way to say “no clashing” or “discomfort”… everything must fit together perfectly. Whistler challenges these ideas. Yes harmony is how notes are sounded together and how elements work in union, but it is so much more…. Harmony is also, sounding new notes in the chord to create a dissonance that then pulls the music forward as it searches for more new notes to join the music. The process of searching for new notes provides the forward motion to carry on….the harmony breaths in…..listens….. and exhales. It looks to the new voice…leans on it and then resolves it by adding still more new notes and in the process the harmony progresses and grows. It is in the tension of the dissonance that the music becomes alive…finds purpose.
So imagine again how God is speaking to each of us by providing changes that sometimes hurt…but in the end cause us to rise and listen. As we reach towards greater fullness in God’s kingdom, let the knowledge of His love provide us with the confidence to thrive.
Listen to these words in Isaiah as they encourage us: “Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left…..oh afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will build you with stones of turquoise your foundations with sapphires. I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones…. and great will be your children’s peace…” Isaiah 54: 2-3, 11-13
Dear Heavenly Father
Help us for we are afraid of change and yet we grow ever restless. Help us as we must allow certain things to drop away, people to leave, empty places to form, so that we may put on new branches to our tree of life. May we seek new challenges, new ways of thinking and widen our borders as we arm ourself with the courage to risk… to grow…. and to dance:)
As we press forward and put down new roots, let us wait upon the wisdom and timing of our Lord.
ps: This week I highly recommend a movie that is a wonderful expression of the above ideals. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel starring Judy Dench and Maggie Smith, is a wonderful film about finding new worlds….and sometimes letting them find you:))