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Posts Tagged ‘spiritual’

Pilgrimage Statistics 

Consecutive Days Riding:  99                                        Days Blogged: 93 

New Mileage: 12                                                         Total Trip Mileage: 763

As I climb on the bike this morning I am I thinking about the pilgrimage site we will be visiting today; The Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg Florida.  It represents the first time we have visited what I call an Artistic Site.  You might ask how artwork or an entire art museum can represent a spiritual destination.  One way in which artwork might meet this distinction would be if the art in question was of a religious nature, such as an exhibition of medieval church art or African tribal masks. The second way is that the site might display artwork that represents an artist’s spiritual journey.  It might highlight transitions or changes in the artist’s work as they grappled with spiritual questions.

Dali: A work of Art!

Columbus Discovers the New World

Today’s site represents this second approach as it highlights aspects of Dali’s unfolding spirituality.  Dali is certainly an intriguing character and first gained fame prior to war II as a representative of the Surrealism movement in art.  Surrealism is defining as a literary and artistic movement influenced by writer and poet Andre Breton and his interpretation of Sigmund Freud’s work on dreams and the unconscious mind. Surrealistic artists, like Dali, attempted to paint the ‘reality’ of their dreams, which they saw as more ‘real’ than the reality of the everyday world.  He is most famous for his works featuring melting time pieces and figures.  A review of a Dali’s biography indicates that his artwork went through a number of shifts and changes.  He started with the Impressionist and Cubist styles then joined the Surrealist movement.  He had a falling out with Breton and other surrealist painters before moving to the United States from Europe to avoid World War II.  It was at this time that he entered what would be called his “classical period.”   He began a series of 19 large canvases, many of them focused on scientific, historical or religious themes. Shortly after returning to Europe in the late 1940s he announced his conversion to Catholicism and promised: “My paintings in the future will be an amalgam of my Surrealist experience and the classicism of the Pre-Raphaelites and Renaissance.” 

The Temptation of Saint Anthony

I was unable to find specific references to the reason for this transformation in his personal life, however,  I suspect that he, like many artists and writers, struggled to “make sense” of the world after World War II. The devastation of Europe and the Holocaust had a profound effect on many people. Questions about the meaning of life lead some people to even question whether God existed or was in fact “dead.”  Others return to their church roots and/or became fascinated with the proliferation of new scientific discoveries. One biographer noted that that Dali showed a particular interest in the area of nuclear physics, perhaps struck by the power of the atom and the nuclear bombs that fell upon Japan. His interest in science is evidenced by his painting honoring Crick and Watson, the founders of DNA.  His shift to religious themes is evidenced by his paintings: “Temptations of St. Anthony,” or “Christ of Saint John of the Cross,” or the “Last Supper.”  There was some evidence of religious conflict as seen in his drawing: “Sometimes I Spit for Pleasure on the Portrait of my Mother,” where he painted the words over an outline of the Christ of the Sacred Heart.

 Like many artists and writers I get questions from people about the creative process, where it comes from and what role it can play in our life.  I see the creative process as a powerful spiritual process.  Our creative efforts can be a representation of what we already believe, where our beliefs guide the process of choosing and creating symbols.  At other times the process of discovery guides the unfolding artwork and the artist can be just as shocked and awed, as any viewer, at the symbolic outcome.  I’ve had people look at my artwork and excitedly proclaim what they see; I often smile and thank them for their observation, because now I see more complexity and more meaning in the work myself.

Christ of St. John of the Cross

 I suspect that Salvador Dali’s work falls into both of these categories.  Some are likely reflections of his conversion to Catholicism, while others reflect his personal process of discovery and may act as a mirror for the viewer to conduct their own personal exploration. I suspect that really good art does both.  You may see what you already know and feel comfortable with, or you may see new things that raise questions and open doors onto a new reality.  The creative process, like any pilgrimage or journey, has the potential to inspire and clarify as well as the potential to raise disquieting questions and undermine our belief system.  If all life is a journey, we have no choice but to live it, to continue our process of discovery!

Sometimes I spit on my MotherPlease click on the pilgrimage site tab to find in webpage information concerning the Salvador Dali Museum webpage.

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Consecutive Days Riding: 64                               Consecutive Days Blogging: 65

Today’s Mileage: 10                                            Total Trip Mileage: 562

The red line marks our progress.

As I ride the bike this morning I think about the candles burning around the world in temples and churches in celebration.  As I mentioned yesterday, for me, light and fire are symbolic of the divine. They provide us with guidance against ignorance.  They offer warmth against a cold inhumane world.  They have the ability to purify and cleanse, helping heal our wounds. Of course during this time of joy and celebration one does not have to look far to see sad scenes of death and destruction, abuse and hunger, of intolerance and hatred.

I recently received a comment  entitled “Pure and Undefiled Religion.”  The individual quoted the New Testament twice and included the following statements:

“And so it is that most of those who have chosen to follow The Messiah on The Narrow Way have had to “forsake their natural father, mother, brothers, sisters” and all others who will not follow The Messiah, because they “love this wicked world and their own life in and of it. What is declared to be “religion” today is truly the devil’s playground. Hope is there would be those who take heed unto The Call of The Only True G-D to “Come Out of her, MY people”!

He was critical of my blog, quoted scripture with certainty, and ended with the statement “Truth is never ending!” I responded with the following comment:

“I too believe in truth, but we seem to believe in very different truths! In my view the divine is large enough to embrace and love both of us! I choose to accept this “wide way,” if you choose to follow “the narrow way” then that is your choice. A student once asked me why it was that every semester it seemed there was always someone who was trying to “save me.” I just smiled and said: “They are just doing what they need to do to be the Christian they have chosen to be!” I am doing what I need to be doing (teaching, artwork, and blogging) to be the loving, spiritual person I have chosen to be! I appreciate that you visited my blog and took the time to respond to it! I wish you well on your journey… I will hold you in my prayers… as I hope you will hold me in yours. Have a wonderful and happy holiday.

This morning I received a response from him.  Again he quoted scripture, and directed ridicule at all of us “who do not follow the true G-D.”  I followed his comments back to his own blog.  I found that his statements to me were nothing more than a copy of the ramblings that filled his blog. Rants against the world at large, organized religion, and non-believers.

It is no wonder that this person’s comments appeared in the spam space of my blog?  They remind me of the individuals who stand on a street corner and cry out their condemnation of “passing sinner” without any knowledge of these individuals’ beliefs, virtuous actions or their relationship with the divine.  I suspect they view the negative reactions of the passing “sinners” not as feedback, but simply as sign of their righteousness.

It has been my experience that when some religious individuals embrace negative feedback or criticism, they often do not accept it as corrective feedback. Instead they exhibit an attitude of self-righteousness. They view the criticism as a sign they are on the right path. Any criticism or challenging feedback is ignored or ridiculed.  This response may lead them on a course fraught with dangerous consequences for their family, friends and society.

I have featured sunsets on today’s posting as they too are symbolic. They symbolize the end of a day and approaching darkness.  However, with their brillent colors they also plant the seeds for a new day, for a dawning and return of light. I receive criticism and feedback as gifts with open arms, as long as the other person is willing to: try to listen, try to understand and looks for common ground.  Let us hope that our churches, communities, nations and our world will see the sun set on divisive ideas and emotions which serve only to create schisms between us and them, between the natural and the spiritual worlds, between individuals and the divine.

A special thanks to the photographers associated with Panramio for the beautiful scenes from along the roadside.

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