vrijdag, mei 1, 2020

From fear to love, Hester Mila-GroenewegFrom fear to love, Hester Mila-Groeneweg

From the Me-era to the We-era?

Because of the drastic measures in our everyday lives we are experiencing the consequences of the corona crisis at the core of our existence. This can lead to a critical review of our own behaviour. The crisis questions our conscience, our faith, whichever faith we call our own. And it demands an answer to balance us with  the world around us.  For me, the answer is to be found on the spiritual level.

Words that come to mind are remorse and repentance. These words are hardly fashionable anymore. What is remorse? I would say: Deeply regretting your behaviour towards fellow human beings or a higher entity. With this I mean the all-encompassing life principles, nature, climate, other living beings, yes, the earth itself. As a Christian, I call that entity God.

We see the baffling consequences of the devastating exploitation of life’s processes for our own benefit. Let us look at everything alive with gratitude and treat it with respect.

I would like to illustrate the above with a composition (*) that I made in 2001. It stems from my experience in the middle of life, when I was out of action  for a few months. Lying in bed on my side, I realised ‘you should not lie on your side, then you look horizontally, but rather on your back, then you will look vertically.’ Looking vertically became the guiding principle of my life. The composition accompanying this article originated from that, inspired by the words of Henri Nouwen from his book Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life, ‘I see the spiritual life as a life wherein we move from the house of fear to the house of love.’

The seven panels, from top to bottom show this movement: 1. Man thinking himself omnipotent in a world where all is achievable; 2. The collapse of this way of thinking; 3 and 4. In remorse and repentance reaching out for help from another source; 5. The restoration of balance coming from another dimension; 6. Harmony and a new perspective; 7. Experiences are being shared.

In my attic I found a box containing postcards of this composition from 2001. I came up with the idea to lend my support to the patients and  those caring for them who are in isolation in the nursing home  I live next to. Together with my neighbour we sent out 140 cards with Easter greetings to them and to other elderly friends in my network.

Thinking of after the crisis, I see artists having a guiding role. The creative power of artists can be imperative to finding solutions. Artists have the ability to create cohesion amidst different kinds of disciplines.

I advocate more focus on the creative subjects in all schools, to guide adolescents to be the balanced people that our society needs. Trained in both heart and mind. Perhaps we are moving from a Me-era to a We-Era, given the many creative ways to help one other.

Hester Mila-Groeneweg, 84, visual artist and teacher of visual arts for 34 year

(*) This composition was originally made as a backdrop (300 x 225 cm) for an international interfaith conference in 2001 with the theme ‘From fear to love’.