Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Are you there God? It's me, Emi

Madonna at the fountain

It's not that I'm losing my religion, I've never really had one beyond family, friends and a comforting sense of belonging  - all of which have helped a great deal.

But there are times, every so often, when I wished I had a religion beyond that. Some kind of guidance. A framework. Centuries-old tradition of knowing who to turn to and of that person/higher power really being able to help or console.

Like any young person I searched all over for something to believe in, tried the various major religions on for size. Didn't fit.

With many of them, the organized religions' treatment of women within and beyond their ranks killed it for me. If their God/Gods didn't even treat the sexes equally, then it wasn't my God. Same with so many other practices, like the constant urging to appease the God with prayers. It might well work that way with God, what do I know, but it's not the kind of God I'm looking for. 

In times of crisis I've had to come up with other sources of consolation. 
And it's often religious/Christian art that brings on the peace. Not so much Jesus on the cross. More Mary with baby Jesus - the composition called Glykophilousa  - Greek for "sweet kisses" with baby Jesus so tender with his momma, the two of them oozing love way beyond any specified religion. That's what God must be like, not the pictured people per se but the overwhelming feeling of love and care, compassion and forgiveness. So yes, perhaps I already know God?

Could also be all the amassed energy by people who've previously turned to the very same images for consolation. Or perhaps the phenomenal artistry of the painters appointed to carry out the art. Doesn't matter so much.
The Met is my church. 

I went there today, was comforted by many a loving baby Jesus-Marys, a currant scone and some ancient Egyptians. El Greco wakes me up too, shakes me up a little, in a good way. I'll take whatever works. 

Top painting is in Europe though - in Antwerp. I go to the Met to see a very similar version from Van Eyck's workshop. Strangely, the supreme contemporary copy is not as overwhelming as Van Eyck's original. Don't understand it, am not usually so picky. Perhaps some higher power is involved after all. 

Ps 2. I grew up in museums. When I'm this far from my first family, the familiar world of art and the company of trees are the two main means to beat the longing for the people I love on a different continent. 

Ps 3. People! If you're in London, don't miss this - in February. So tempted to go. Dad, care to join? This is for us!