Saturday, June 4, 2011
COMMUNION: ART as SACRAMENT.
Communion implies a process of communication. But the word is also about the sacramental in life. Communion reminds us of the importance of food, and how eating together was not just a matter of sustaining the body, but also of sustaining relationships, within the community, but also with the whole of nature. The Upanishads remind us that everything is in a sense food. At this time, when increasingly we are made aware of an ecological crisis which threatens to affect the very sources of food, and therefore of life, we see once more that eating is related to how we communicate not only with our own bodies, and those near to us, but also with the whole environment. One of the most important images of the future age in the Biblical tradition was the idea of the Feast, which is also a festival. Finally life is about celebration, of being filled, and fulfilled, and of sharing what we have with others. This then is also the most basic theme in art. Art should be a festival of life. It is a coming together in order to share life. That is why the last supper of Jesus has made such a powerful impression on the imagination of artists. In the Jewish, and also the whole Middle Eastern culture, eating is about sharing, about hospitality, and eating out of the same vessel. Jesus shared what he was eating literally with those who were at table with him. It was in a way a physical sharing, which crossed all boundaries; which made people of one body, and one heart. The figure of John leaning his head against the breast of Jesus during that last meal together, was the original symbol of the "Sacred Heart". Jesus washes the feet of his disciples, and that too is part of the shared meal, having a sacramental significance.