J-girl's painting on the mountain house wall; Dec. 2005 / and a poem inspired by a talk on Beauty and Grace by Brother Michael O'Neill McGrath of Bee Still Studio
Art Will Save Us
(in memory of Verann who taught the gospel of art to so many)
Brother Mickey says that art is his way of praying into his experience. Then he proceeds to show us his prayers — wrought of paper and paint and pencil and pain and inspiration.
Pencil sketches of his parents in their last days, his mother's hands with fingers curled, his father in a bed in the living room covered with an afghan. “That which is most personal is most universal.” (Henri Nouwen) He says we must constantly keep moving forward, put all regret behind.
A painting of St. Brigid of Ireland (the patron saint of hospitality who made her own beer) holding a wild goose — loud and unpredictable like life — rather than a dove to represent the Holy Spirit. He says just love your life, don't dwell on the negative. Leave your pain and suffering as a gift at the foot of the cross. “Blessed are hearts that bend, for they shall never break.” (St. Francis DeSales)
Another pencil sketch of a priest friend saying mass at his mother's hospital bedside. He notes that it had been many years since his two brothers darkened the door of any church. When pain enters our life there is always a companion grace. “Do this in memory of me.”
Paintings of many Marys — mother, lady, mystic — with her symbol, the moon, behind her head as a halo; with her teen-aged son; sitting gracefully above a crowded beach on a summer day; illuminated by the light of the Holy Spirit. Trying to better understand religious dogma he asks a class of children “What does the Feast of the Assumption mean?” One boy has the answer: “Mary is so holy we assume she went to heaven.”
His colorful painted mandala — a simple round shape that represents wholeness; a personal diagram to reminds us of our relation to the infinite. It started out with sketches of a barren winter landscape and turned into a celebration of life. He talks of what the Irish call the “thin places” — when the boundary between this world and the next get close. In death life is changed not ended. His mantra to get through the tough spots in life is this: “Beauty will save the world.”
Brother Mickey says that art is his way of praying into his experience.