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40 Days: creating hope

September 23, 2009

40 Days LogoTwo major events are being kicked-off today here in Grand Rapids, MI, both celebrating life and creation/creativity.

The first is ArtPrize, an event that has caused artists from all over to descend on our city and fill the businesses and street corners with their creations.  For the last several weeks, displays have been popping up all throughout the venue perimeter, but today was the first official day of the exhibition.

The downtown area is oozing in ingenuity and imagination.  I am reminded of the beautiful words of John Paul II in his Letter to Artists:

In producing a work, artists express themselves to the point where their work becomes a unique disclosure of their own being, of what they are and of how they are what they are… In shaping a masterpiece, the artist not only summons his work into being, but also in some way reveals his own personality by means of it.  For him art offers both a new dimension and an exceptional mode of expression for his spiritual growth. Through his works, the artist speaks to others and communicates with them. The history of art, therefore, is not only a story of works produced but also a story of men and women. Works of art speak of their authors; they enable us to know their inner life, and they reveal the original contribution which artists offer to the history of culture.

Letter to Artists – p.2

As I see the works of art around the city, I see the lives of each artist beautifully displayed for all to see; each one distinct in their diverse styles, colors and expressions.  The event is truly a celebration of life and creativity!

Not very far away and still within the perimeter of ArtPrize, there is another celebration of life that began this morning, one that will go unnoticed by many, but one that could change the lives of a few.  The 40 Days for Life 2009 Fall Campaign was kicked off on Sunday, and the vigil started early this morning at midnight.  For the next forty days, people will be standing at the abortuary on Fulton Street in peaceful, prayerful vigil.

Their presence is not a protest, but a gentle reminder of truth – truth that three days every week little creative works of art are destroyed.  Tiny masterpieces which should be cherished and recognized for the unique beauty each one possesses are instead discarded with the garbage.  Each person who stands in front of the drab building, marked only by the numbers 3-2-0, offers him/herself as a representation for the cherub-like faces that will never be seen and their silent prayer symbolizes the cries that will never be heard.  But the vigil is not only a reminder of death, it also reminds us of life.  Where there is life, there is hope.  The live bodies that will grace the sidewalk on Fulton Street over these next few weeks are there to bring hope.

I was struck by the juxtaposition of these two events beginning on the same day.  It is heartbreaking to think of the city rapturously embracing the creativity of hundreds of artists while ignoring the desecration of the most pure and vulnerable works of art.  Yet, I can only pray that others will recognize the significance as well, which is exactly what I will do when I step onto the sidewalk on Fulton Street and join the vigil.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Elm permalink
    September 23, 2009 5:30 pm

    Thanks, Cecilia, for your expressing so well what we all feel and experience at 320.

  2. Jane Wilmer permalink
    September 23, 2009 7:37 pm

    Cecilia, thank you for sharing your thoughts and insights. I agree that it is amazing that these two events start on the same day. I wonder how many people have made the connection. The city honors and celebrates the creative expressions of the individuals who are participating in ArtPrize, while the Creator of ALL there is and from Whom all
    creativity comes, is disgraced and dishonored and His expression of His own creativity and love is trashed.

    How can we possibly appreciate artistic expression when we do not honor the Divine Creator?

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