"Loss, Pain And Art "
Rev. Peter E. Bauer
A few days ago, my dog ,Austin ,had to be put down. He was a 12- year old Bichon Friese who had lived with us for four years. Austin suffered from renal failure which unfortunately does not have a good prognosis regarding treatment. Austin's original family was from the Westlake Hills area of Austin. The original owners of this dog had died of cancer and during the major fire that occurred in Bastrop, TX in 2011, Austin was confined to a kennel amidst all of the smoke. We fortunately were able to rescue him.
Austin had rather a stoic demeanor, almost patrician. He was content to enjoy his food, play with dog toys and roam outside enjoying the yard. He also enjoyed snuggling on the sofa watching PBS.
I am reflecting upon Austin's life today as we begin the Lenten Season which begins with Ash Wednesday. This forty- period traditionally is designated as a time in which we recall the life of Jesus and consider how our faith and spiritual journey might be enhanced. There has been some emphasis to view Lent as a time in which you give up things " i.e. chocolate, alcohol, etc." ) As a child, I remember going to Mass, as a first grader, at Immaculate Heart Catholic Church in Portland, Or and seeing all of the statues of the saints in the church draped in purple cloth.
I would like to argue that the Lenten Season can be a time of growth, not a time to focus upon deprivation. The original meaning for Lent comes from the Middle English word Lencten which translates to Spring and the lengthening of days The word "Lent" comes from the old English, "lencten ...ecumenical-catholic-communion.org/eccpdf/lent.pdf. Growth can occur in a myriad of ways, i.e. dealing with a pet or human death, dealing with a marital separation involving children, coping with a chronic illness. All of these conditions reveal the many faceted aspects of being human.
Singer/Songwriter Lucinda Williams recently talked about the struggle she witnessed watching her father, who was a well-known poet, die of Alzheimer's Disease. Lucinda observed:
" The more loss and pain you experience, the more you need your art."
On Her New Album, Lucinda Williams Is Driven, Not Comfortable
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I think Lucinda Williams comments reveal a lot of wisdom. How we express our feelings of loss and pain in life can be expressed through our art. Here I want to argue that our art can be through writing, talking, or sharing your presence with another. The art of your life can be expressed through simple gestures, i.e. cooking a meal for someone who is home-bound, giving shelter to someone who is homeless, driving someone who needs to go to a doctor's appointment, spending time with someone who has heard that their relationship with someone is ending or that someone they love is hurt and in the hospital.
The Lenten season is a time for growth and spiritual enrichment. The good news is that we don't have to take this journey alone, rather we can travel together as companions, walking along side one another in support and hope now and always.
May It Be So.