Thursday, February 13, 2014
Environmental Art as a Path to Eco-Spirituality
Andy Goldsworthy Stone River 2001 Cantor Arts Center Stanford University
There is a marvelous stone sculpture outside of Stanford's Cantor Art Center. A sinuous river of stone flows effortlessly through a field, reminding us of swirling vortices and liquid life frozen in space. The first principle of Unitarian Universalism is "The inherent worth and dignity of every person". Somehow the personhood of rocks or water, let alone that of animals, escaped the crafters of this principle. I was talking to a friend who argues that dogs or cats or dolphins naturally show empathy in a way that we cannot fathom with psychological/verbal description. Yes! And I would add that so-called inanimate objects also partake of empathy when we allow our imaginations to feel our connection with them. In this way art raises us to such a level of reflection that we spontaneously sense our connection to natural objects. The river winds back and forth like our moods; the wind inspires; the rock remains steady and patient.
Unitarian Universalists do lift up a principle, "Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part", that partially commits us to harmony with nature; but, I would say that the degree to which we find nature spirited and animated, compels us to tread more lightly and more empathically on this source of our nurturance and being.