I spent the evening at ArtXchange, a gallery in downtown Seattle dedicated to promoting cultural exchange through the art they showcase. As I studied the featured exhibit by Deborah Kapoor against the captivating, meditative chant of a live Indian music group, I kept thinking about how my love of art is so bound up with spirituality.
In the opening stanzas of “Origins and History of Consciousness,” a poem by Adrienne Rich (it is among my favorite poems of all time), she characterizes the “true nature of poetry” as “The drive to connect./ The dream of a common language.” These simple phrases capture the real quality of poetry like no other description I have ever encountered. I would also apply the description to other mediums of artist expression, including the various mediums I enjoyed tonight. Literary, visual, and performing art captures me because it is a tangible form of our common human yearning for…for something beyond systematic grammar and simple cohesive reason. We need meter, clay, melodies and creativity to convey what our systematic, straight-forward prose cannot: something more. It is out of our dream of a common language that we create and engage art of all kinds.
And it is out of a “dream of a common language” that I pray. That I meditate. That I seek God in metaphors and old rituals. My spirituality pours out of the same longing that brings me to art–a longing to connect with reality in a way that transcends the division and limitations of ordinary words.
Both art and spirituality pull me beyond myself into the realm of this common language–a language beyond words that feels so much more Real than a lot of the talk I hear all day long.