n historical practice I have always been endeared to is the contemplative art of Illuminating. Monks, perhaps sworn to vows of silence, charity and celibacy, would spend long, prayerful days, months and years embellishing a sacred text. Every letter, especially opening ones, and every phrase was lovingly enhanced and colored by the artist’s brush. The Artist-Monk himself gained deep insight about the text he was illuminating in the process of heightening the meaning and value of the work for other readers. Many of the finished products would be housed in special Church libraries or archives, well guarded there to withstand the onslaught of human histories; preserved as pristine artefacts of a more pure, illuminated time.
This art of Illuminating appears to have been mainly lost to today’s fast paced publishing world and our Western consumer culture. Now we dash off an email, hardly even taking the time or giving the thought to write and send a personal letter. We consume electronic text as though it were of no value except for the information relayed. After all, everything now is disposable; we prize the Delete key above all others. Are too many emails potentially threatening our computer’s memory capacity? “Delete; Delete them All!” we can command, and it is done. (Later we will purge the Deleted file itself to finally rid our minds of the accumulated textual debris.)
How might we revitalize the Art of Illuminating in our everyday lives today?
It starts with where we place our attention and with what attitude we attend to the objects of our perception. Remember to appreciate Beauty, every day. Rise for the sunrise, pull off the road to appreciate a mountain scape, walk your dog just before sunset then maybe go to a park or canyon to witness the panorama of color that the sunset bestows. Take in the beauty of our natural environment with every breath and you will find that the pace of life will slow down and become more calm, as will your interactions with others.
Let Beauty be your Muse, as the ancients knew.
If we are to address the issues of global climate change and technological explosion from a humane standpoint and with a balanced point of view, I believe we must return to the art of Illuminating every precious moment, every vital resource and every life form.
I always welcome your Comments and Stories.