I went to Mass in the San Martino church in the next town on Saturday – my first Italian mass.
It was beautiful, in so many ways.
I felt welcomed by the church, the people, the priest and bishop, and the family who invited me; I felt held by their faith, their shared intention and the sacredness of each word spoken.
And my angel painting (a commission, an Ex Voto) is now hung near the altar. It was a wonderful thing to be welcomed in so warmly, and to now have my work permanently placed in such an awe-inspiring space – to know that this artwork will sit amongst ceremonies and prayers for years to come.
As I listened to the parishioners chanting in unison, responding to words spoken by the priest, it made me think of the last time I was ever in a church – just before I was married, when I was 17 yrs old.
The family of my fiance had taken me in when I left home at 16, and they’d supported me to stay on the island and finish school.
Of all the aspects of life with them, their religion was the one that sticks in my memory: it appeared a rigid, cold element of their lives to me at that young age – a perpetual sense of shame hung in the air like unspoken chastisement.
On more than one occasion I was spoken about – loudly, but as if I weren’t in the room – in a strongly judgemental way, in reference to my not being Catholic: judgement and condemnation.
In other respects, I didn’t have particular opinions about the church as a child oryoung adult. If anything, I was drawn to the beautiful atmosphere and quiet specialness of the buildings; I have warm memories of sneaking the key out from under the doormat of Corrie Church, and tiptoeing through the aisles, to try to understand what this feeling was, what this special place was, which people went to all dressed up, and from where this magical organ music emanated…
The spiritual aspect of my work is something it has taken me many years to talk about in-depth: it seemed like both a too-private and a too-subtle dimension of the everyday to speak directly about: too easily misinterpreted or judged. And there just weren’t words, yet.
But over the years we mature and we become more at ease in our skins, more connected with spirit – we evolve spiritually, as we develop skill in accessing and understanding our soul, our life purpose, our synchrony with others and with the divine.
Perhaps we also become less closed to others’ ideas, as we begin to comprehend the similarities in alternative modes of thinking, rather than being fixated on the frictions.
It is a glorious revelation to not be in conflict with others -to accept that others might even have anger against us, might want to stop us thinking or speaking our thoughts – it is a weight laid down, to not be occupied with it at all.
We’re blessed – many of us – to live in cultures where we’re able to speak freely, and yet even our ‘democratic’ countries have fundamentalist concepts and behaviours; intolerances and hatreds which become ingrained in common parlance and consciousness, even in law,
Walking out into the delicious piazza after the service, I was humbled by having been so accepted here: not just to sit in on the Mass, butin having had my artwork accepted into a sacred building. And to be allowed to live in this town and region; being allowed to walk freely and dress as I wish, to sit in a bar on my own and (mostly!) not be harassed, to write a blog, and paint the paintings I do, to exist in an unmarried state and to have the vote, and so on, and so on.
Though I occasionally bitch about things which niggle me, I hope that I revel more – in the holy joy of the everyday.
If we take our liberties for granted, or don’t appreciate our privileges and luxuries, we might not notice them being encroached on – we get convinced of our discomfort, when actually we have all these freedoms and choices to live.
The more precious we recognise our lives to be, the more we allow spirit and good purpose to flow through us… and the less room there is for judgement or hatred.
Oopah – I sound like I’m preaching, hehe!
Tante belle cose, Clare
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