Listening For The Song

Walking through the cavernous rooms of The Art institute of Chicago, I came to a demure painting that struck a different chord. Next to the work and the artist label was a write-up about the actor, Bill Murray. He had been depressed about his career to the point of considering suicide. On his way to the lake to possibly end it all, he was moved to go down Michigan Ave. Soon he was standing in front of the Art Institute. He entered the building and had a transformative moment when he encountered the painting The Song of The Lark by Jules Breton. In the painting a young modest dressed woman stands strong in a field with a sickle in her right hand. Beyond and off to the right rear of her is a sunrise. In his own words, Bill Murray says,

“And I saw it that day and I thought, ‘Well there’s a girl who doesn’t have a whole lot of prospects, but the sun’s coming up anyway and she’s got another chance at it. So I think that gave me some sort of feeling that I too am a person and I get another chance every day the sun comes up.”

Every day the sun comes up. The physical fact of sun rising was not enough to evoke what art did. Why, because the arts is soul speak. It is the illustrious morning song of the lark calling out to the us in us buried beneath too many unfulfilled yesterdays. It is the arc of electricity, the life jolt that activates the deepest part of us where there are no dividing lines of age, race, sex, or class. A place where no one is othered because it is the communion space of a collective subconscious where we are all one. Art is so much more than a things to do. It’s woven into the fiber of what we are at our core for our healing and well being. With that as our guiding light, we can begin the act of making real sense of our world as we would have it.

On that day at the Art Institute of Chicago , I purchased a post card of the painting. It now hangs on the mirror of the vanity in my bedroom. There are those days, some longer than others, that I need a reminder. A reminder that in my hand I hold the tool of my possibilities, buoyed by my will and faith to weather the night until the sun rises again. I can always hear the song when I can get still and listen.

The Song of The Lark, Jules Breton

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