I watched a short video on Sunday on an artist who does clay sculptures. She became fascinated about vessels and she primarily does sculptures of women as her model of strong vessels. When she really decided on where to focus her artistic craft of sculpting, she became persuaded by a few definitions of vessel: 1) a utensil used for holding contents; 2) an artery containing or conveying blood or other body fluids; 3) a craft for traveling; 4) a person regarded as a holder or receiver of something, e.g., a vessel of grace. She sees women as vessels and her sculptures of women as fitting two modes: strong, powerful and enduring and secondly as also fragile and vulnerable. That sounded so fitting to me. When I look at a sculpture, I do see strength and power and endurance while at the same time I know that the sculpture is fragile and vulnerable and could break just by falling to the ground. Women and men are both strong and fragile too, just like vessels.
Vessels serve several purposes and therefore, my question this week is , what kind of vessel are you?
Are you holding contents? If you are, are your contents not being put to use or are you holding them for someone else? Are you an artery to convey things and do you willingly carry things through to others. One of the reasons that this artist has chosen to sculpt women is because they carry the bloodline of humanity. They are the vessels for all of us, for life. She enjoys being a sculptor because of the joy of creating something. She thinks about how her fingerprints are forever on that sculpture. She noted that scriptures also say that vessels are containers for the spirit so she sees her craft as a spiritual gift she gives to others.
She talked about how as an artist she has found her voice for protesting how women are treated in the world. Her sculptures give her a chance to redeem that treatment and present women in a different way as vessels of grace. She believes artists have an important role in social change. This is something we see all around us today. And, we saw it in the 1960s and 1970s. We saw it with Dick Gregory and the silencing of his voice as he now leaves our human sight is a big reminder of how important artists, actors, comedians, etc. are to social change.
Artists have a platform that can be used for their craft and that can be used to amplify what is going on in our communities. Artists are vessels of change. Dick Gregory never looked back on his decision to join the civil rights movement and force social change. He did it on a platform of nonviolence. Thank God for Dick Gregory being a vessel.
This sculpture artist said that people who perpetuate hateful things on others are banking on our silence. We need to recognize that and then ask ourselves, now what? Will we be a vessel to hold their silence or to carry social change.
On the week that we experienced a total solar eclipse, I thought of the definition of vessel as a craft for traveling. Did you get to see the solar eclipse? It was amazing. It was splendid to see how it traveled across the United States, across the North America continent, across the entire world. The solar eclipse was a vessel this week for unity, joy and splendor. It was moments of togetherness, people gathered all across the country to watch the sky literally from the west coast to the east coast.
Bill Nye saw the eclipse this week as a moment of re-set for us. A moment for us to pause and see ourselves as vessels of the universe. And while it might seem very corny to think that way, we really are. We are somewhat living in strange times yet it was awe inspiring to watch the coverage on television for the eclipse. And even more so with the backdrop of what we had encountered for the previous week with the Charlottesville violence, the white supremacists trying to re-assert themselves, an occupant of the oval office floundering and not taking responsibility for the office he holds but rather fueling hate and yet the best of the country rising up and saying no to hate. And, we were stopped on Monday to watch the universe take over with an eclipse. The current politics were literally eclipsed.
For a little while on Monday, the moon and the sun were vessels and we were carried through space and time. We were granted the grace of being together for something that we could not control or dispute. No one could argue about what happened, not Democrat or Republican or Independent. The solar eclipse was like a vessel, it crossed the entire country one second at a time making its way across the land quite indiscriminately without regard of anyone’s skin color or religion or sexual orientation for those who watched it. So, now what? What kind of vessel will you be now? We have a chance for a re-set. Choose your vessel.