I was reading the Gospel of Matthew the other day, and was struck by these verses: “The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be?” Mt 6:22-23
How you inform your conscience, your thinking, your attitudes–what you feed your mind and soul–will determine what kind of person you are. It will define your character, your beliefs, your behavior. It is the light that fills your spirit. You will shine with light, or reveal darkness. The light in your eye shows you the path to follow in life. When your eye sees clearly, your judgment is sound.
There are some popular sayings that have as their basis a similar theme: “You are what you eat” and even the computer cliche “Garbage in, garbage out.”
There is the Native American tale of a grandfather telling his grandson that there are 2 wolves fighting in each person’s soul, one violent and angry, the other kind and loving. “Which one will win, Grandfather?” asks the child. “The one you feed” answers the old man.
Art and images are powerful. They shape and form us. Yet our culture dismisses them as irrevelant. We don’t take the time to look, study and understand, nor to teach our children the value of artistic expression. How enthusiastic are most parents whose child wants to pursue a career in art, music, writing?
Madison Avenue knows well the power of image. Modern advertising is insidious and effective, controlling our culture and society. Corporations are happy to let us dismiss art from our lives, to not look too deeply, to marginalize artists of all types. Our society has allowed them to do this.
We need to seek out images of love and grace ourselves, to fill our lives with beauty. Our culture needs icons and holy images. Our society needs to see expressions of hope, salvation, and compassion.
I urge you to: Look at beautiful things. Contemplate icons. Study works of art. Notice what is around you.
Listen to stories of love and compassion, to the faith journeys of others, to the teachings of the church. Read good books. Read the Scriptures.
Speak words of kindness, encouragement, and praise, to God and your fellow beings on earth.
Choose to watch movies about faith, goodness, love, redemption, ethics, and morals. Spend time in prayer. Allow the power of creative arts to work for the good within you, that your life will radiate the light of God.