We are examining the role of art and creativity among various spiritual traditions of the world. In Islam, the Sufi mystic Hafiz addresses the question: What is Art?
“Art is the conversation between lovers.
Art offers an opening for the heart.
True art makes the divine silence in the soul
break into applause.
Art is, at last, the knowledge of
Where we are standing—
Where we are standing
In this Wonderland
When we rip off all our clothes
And this blind man’s patch, veil,
That got tied across our brow.”
Notice the wonderful naming of our home—a “Wonderland.” It is Art’s job to teach us that we are truly standing in this Wonderland. (Is this another name for the “kingdom/queendom of God”?
Of course the Sufi tradition is well known for its dance as prayer. Hafiz reminds us that to dance is to join the Cosmos which is itself dancing. (And, given what today’s cosmology is telling us, this is literally quite true—galaxies, supernovas, planets and stars are all in motion.) Says Hafiz:
“When you dance
the whole universe dances.
The world dances around the Sun.
The morning light breaks,
Spinning up with delight.
How could anyone
Touched by your love
Not dance like a weeping willow?
Today I spin wildly
throughout the city;
I am the cup-bearer,
My head is the cup,
Perhaps a scholar will see me
and drop his books.
Perhaps the world will see me
and forget all its sorrow.”
Can Art assist us to “forget all the world’s sorrow?” Is that one of its principal purposes? The Via Creativa healing the Via Negativa? Can Art get those addicted to the left brain only to “drop their books” and join the heart work that dance and art engender?
Hafiz says: “Dear ones, let’s anoint this earth with dance!”
For Hafiz, God is the ultimate dancer, whose favorite words are: “Come dance with me!”
“Every child has known God,
Not the God of names,
Not the God of don’ts,
Not the God who ever does anything weird,
But the God who only knows four words
And keeps repeating them, saying:
‘Come dance with Me.’
Queries for Contemplation
Meditations: Is it true that art is “a conversation between lovers?” How is that so? How does your life experience confirm this?
What might happen if conversations between lovers (art) were more a part of education, politics, economics, prisons, churches, synagogues and mosques?
Matthew Fox calls on all the world traditions for their wisdom and their inspiration in a work that is far more than a list of theological position papers but a new way to pray—to meditate in a global spiritual context on the wisdom all our traditions share. Fox chooses 18 themes that are foundational to any spirituality and demonstrates how all the world spiritual traditions offer wisdom about each.