This past Friday, I was presented with a couple of things that stilled me. First was a video of the celebration of life for a renowned rugby player, Jonah Lomu. In this celebration, players from the organization… dozens, if not hundreds, performed a traditional and ceremonial Haka.
It’s hard to say what stilled me, because it wasn’t only one thing. It was each part, and the sum of the parts, and even more than that. The cultural significance, the attention to detail, the passion with which each person participated… the diversity of players who gave themselves to this traditional Maori war cry… and then there were the unspoken things… what they did, while maybe not intended, brought me into the center of who they were, of who this man was. It reached to the depth of my heart and spoke to me, even about myself. While I have more to say on this, I struggle with putting words to the emotion, because it seems that words would be inadequate to express the intensity that, even now, I still feel…
If that weren’t enough, I had the privilege of going to an art opening for my friend, Alana Devine. For as long as I have known her, Alana has been an amazing artist, one that takes everything she has and believes in and weaves it all into each piece that she creates. I first saw Alana painting in church, moving in time and rhythm to the worship and flow of Spirit that was happening. Tapping into the depth of her own heart and soul, Alana would burst forth with color and stroke, creating what could only be described as a song on canvas. When I heard that she was going to have a showing in an art gallery, I had to go. One, because she is my friend, and I wanted to support her, but even more because I wanted to see what had come forth from the eternity of passion, love and life that churns within her.
The Sanchez Art Center was the chosen location for her opening, and it had many pieces on display from a number of artists. The creativity of each artist was amazing, but I was on a mission… I was looking for just one artist. I passed through various sections of the gallery, admiring the artwork, running into a few friends that I hadn’t seen in a long time, and anticipating a display that would be both pleasing and amazing, and Alana did not disappoint. Prominently displayed in a chief section of the Main Gallery were the works that would capture my attention, as well as my heart. I greeted Alana’s husband, Mike, in our traditional manner (men stuff… it’s all good 🙂 ), and gave Alana a great big bear hug before I started to take in her artwork. It took me a few minutes before I realized I was caught up in each piece, speechless and motionless… I had seen wonderful artwork before, but this was different… In the same way as I was mesmerized by the Haka, I was taken up by what I was seeing.
What I can explain… Alana has such an eye for detail, for texture and for mood. While some people will focus on a single aspect in their artwork, Alana has the uncanny ability to blend them all into her work. So, when you are examining one of her pieces, you may start with the recognition of the depth of field, and before you know it you are being affected by the warm tones of the European style buildings, or the cool ocean water kissed by the heat of the springtime sun. Some artwork you are able to appreciate from a distance, but Alana’s pulls you into the scene, the timing, the experience. You are with her, on the boat or the hillside… you feel the grasses and flowers brushing against your legs and the mist of the ocean drifting across your face. You experience life, in ways that maybe you have experienced it before, or possibly in a way that you have been longing for.
People were congratulating Alana on her showing and her expertise, but when I spoke to her, I told her I had no words… I was full, but my mind could not put together any explanation of what I was feeling. All I could do is keep turning back to the same paintings, letting them pour into me even more.
While writing this entry, I went back to see the video of the Haka again. I wasn’t there, have never played rugby, and knew nothing of this man until I had seen this video, yet as I watched it, all I could do was cry, and I cannot explain why. Something in the display, or rather everything in the display touched something in my heart. I was not just watching it – I was pulled into not only the specific time and experience, but into the fullness of his life, of the life of the players, of the culture that has become an earmark of rugby lifestyle. Similarly, the art of Alana Devine has touched something deep in my heart. Something that is hard to explain, something that you just have to experience. Each piece has more than just a story or an inspiration. Her work has the whole of life, of love, of connection with the Holy One, and an invitation for you to partake in the same.
I can congratulate Alana on her first art opening, but I feel that I need to thank her as well, for I received much more than just the ability to see expertly crafted artwork. I saw her heart, and my heart, a little deeper that day.
You still have time to see Alana’s work. She will be on display December 12th and 13th at the Sanchez Art Center in Pacifica. For more information you can see her website.