“Let yourself be open and life will be easier. A spoon of salt in a glass of water makes the water undrinkable. A spoon of salt in a lake is almost unnoticed.” Buddha Siddhartha Gautama Shakyamuni
How do you feel about new ideas that appear in your life? Do they frighten you? Do they offer you a new perspective that broadens your thinking?
Re-evaluating Your Life
As I mentioned last week, I don’t make resolutions any more, but I do think about the New Year and what I hope will happen during it. I try to notice what I may be hanging onto that I really need to release. As I evaluated all of this last week, I realized that I mainly want to continue on the track I’m on now—writing and promoting my book and speaking. I feel a real passion for it, but I also realize each year offers its own challenges, and I want to be open-minded about what comes my way so I can learn the lessons and expand.
New Information Opens the Mind
I had an experience during Christmas week that really brought home the need to be open. My brother showed me a painting by Henry Ossawa Tanner called “The Annunciation.” I was drawn to it because Mary was depicted in a way that grabbed my attention. As the angel Gabriel appears to her, she looks like an ordinary young woman, sitting on her bed, pondering an important decision. Virtually all the pictures of Mary I’ve seen depict her looking angelic and other worldly. Perhaps this is why I never felt drawn to her when I was growing up and attending a traditional Christian church.
When I commented on how different this Mary looked, my brother pointed out that this was the moment when she had to decide if she were willing to become the mother of Christ. I was surprised. “You mean she had a choice?” I asked. “I never knew that.” Perhaps I’d just forgotten after all these years or maybe I had never been presented with this version of the story, but it made a huge difference to me.
Spiritual Awareness Inspires and Expands Us
As I stared at this painting, for the first time, I sensed Mary’s humanity. She was no longer a mythical character to me, but a vital, intelligent being who had to make an unprecedented choice, one that would take her on a very challenging journey. “There’s a story there,” I thought, feeling chills run up my spine. I don’t know what the story is that I will write, but this experience opened a new door for me.
I immediately thought of a friend of mine who is a devout follower of Mary although she isn’t Catholic. Perhaps I had glimpsed part of what has always drawn her to Mary. But most importantly, I have a new perspective on this subject that has opened my mind in a way it was never open before.
Art Offers A New Perspective
That’s the beauty of art too. As Edgar Degas said, “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” When I look at a painting or experience any of the fine arts, I am taken out of my own mind for awhile and into the heart and mind of another, and that allows me to see in ways I never have before. At a deep level, it changes my perspective if I give myself totally to the experience.
Frankly, I was very surprised by my reaction to the painting of Mary. I don’t usually feel moved by religious art. I often admire the artist’s technique, but again the subjects are often so ethereal that my mind, not my heart, is moved. Maybe I’ve been missing something and my lack of interest in organized religion has created a block I don’t know is there. But I think one of my intentions for the New Year will definitely be paying more attention when I catch myself quickly dismissing something or someone. A second look never hurts.
Just a reminder: I’ll be reading and signing Awakening to the Dance: A Journey to Wholeness at Malaprops Bookstore, Asheville, NC on Thursday, January 17 at 7:00.
Have you gained any new perspective lately? Please comment.
Notes on comments: I’m getting huge numbers of spam and don’t have time to check through them all to look for legitimate comments. But if you comment from a business site that sells a product (other than books or service related to my blog post), you are automatically put in the spam folder. I have to approve people who comment for the first time, and I only approve comments that relate specifically to a post. It may take me as much as a day to approve a comment. I welcome all genuine comments.
© 2013 Georganne Spruce ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5