In crisis contemplation, you’re caught. There is no place to go in the hold of a slave ship. There is nothing to be done when you’re walking from North Carolina as a Native American to Oklahoma. Something else has to arise to keep you going, to enliven your spirit, to help you survive—if survival is in the cards.
—Barbara A. Holmes
There isn’t a single way to respond to a crisis; there is no universally correct way. However the call to slow down works to bring us face to face with the invisible, the hidden, the unremarked, the yet-to-be-resolved.
It is only in the process of bringing the impasse to prayer, to the perspective of the God who loves us, that our society will be freed, healed, changed, brought to paradoxical new visions, and freed for nonviolent, selfless, liberating action, freed, therefore, for community on this planet earth.
What we forget, faithwise, in our fear … is that even in the darkest night, when we see no light at all, the light is still there. The sun is still shining over Earth even when our side of Earth rotates away from it. The stars still shine above us, no matter how thick the clouds above our heads.
—Otis Moss III
Hope makes room for love in the world. We can all share it, we can all believe in it, even if we are radically different in every other way. We no longer need to fear our differences because we have common ground. We can hope together—therefore, hope liberates us. It frees us from our fear of the other.
Art is prophetic. Art is humanizing. It speaks truth to power, and so that’s another way in which a community can come together and express themselves in ways the power structures can do nothing about.
—Barbara A. Holmes
Art as Healing
Insight meditation teacher Ruth King embraces art as a form of medicine for ourselves and our communities:
To express ourselves artistically is a mindfulness practice in that we are inescapably both creator and that which is being created. As we courageously give ourselves to our artistic expression, we cultivate patience, empathy, discipline, and our capacity to hold energy as it cooks and simmers into an offering of truth to ourselves and a caring offering to our culture….
Art speaks to a truth larger than our suffering, and our job is to make a genuine offer. Whether you are a writer, dancer, healer, sculptor, painter, singer, architect, teacher, gardener, philosopher, or caregiver, your offering is sure to be medicine for collective well-being.
Consider your life a gift. What’s inside? What creative expressions are you warehousing that bring you alive and belong to all of us? Philosopher, theologian, and civil rights leader Howard Thurman encouraged us in this way: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”…
Identify a creative project—something your heart is curious about that you might enjoy. Consider your artistic expression, no matter how large or small, a gesture of affection that cultivates a culture of care. Offer it generously, as ceremony, and without apology. Pay attention to how you and others are impacted.
The offerings of our creativity are noble and emancipating. When practiced, we come out of hiding into light. When shared, it supports love and respect and inspires harmony and hope. It’s a gesture of gratitude, a way of giving back. To say yes to our artistic calling is to say to our culture, Here is my offering of care.
Ruth King, Mindful of Race: Transforming Racism from the Inside Out (Boulder, CO: Sounds True, 2018), 241–242.
Image credit: A path from one week to the next—Izzy Spitz, Untitled, watercolor. CAC Staff, Untitled, watercolor. Izzy Spitz, Field Study 2, oil pastel on canvas. Used with permission. Click here to enlarge image .
When the world swirls around us we go to the sacred center.