“There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.  What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.”         Luke 12:3

Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees, the learned men of his day, who appeared respectable in society, but whose corrupt inner lives would eventually be exposed for all to see.   This Bible story is thousands of years old, but it’s amazing how much it can speak to our internet era, how more and more our voices can be broadcast from the rooftops (or cell towers, even).

With an eye to the future, our son presented us with an Amazon Echo as a Christmas gift.   Certainly it has potential to be a help in our senior years.  Alexa is truly very smart and can cheerfully search for any information we need.  She can play our favourite music,  and turn on the light.   She can respond to our whisper with a whisper.

It just feels as if there’s not much privacy left.

Cell phones track our movements, financial transactions leave a trail, photos have geographical co-ordinates encrypted within them.  Laptops have webcams.  When away from home, you can turn up the heat, start your laundry online.  Our car is monitored by afar by the manufacturer, and we receive regular e-mail notifications after checkups. Advertisers track our Google searches and Facebook notes our lingering on a post.  It’s as if the whole world is now like a small village, where everybody knows everybody else’s business.

In this kind of environment, we have a real responsibility to live lives of  integrity, consistent in both inner and outer lives.  More than ever, we also need to be cautious of a careless word, or of airing grievances.  It can be amplified instantaneously over the world, echoing off satellites and affecting many more people than ever before.

“You never can tell, when you send a word,
Like an arrow shot from a bow,
By an archer blind, be it cruel or kind,
Just where it may chance to go.
It may pierce the breast of your dearest friend,
Tipped with its poison or balm.
To a stranger’s heart in life’s great mart
It may carry its pain or its calm . . . “

From You Never Can Tell, by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, 1850-1919


Google Art Project.jpg

February, the shortest month on the calendar, often feels like the longest. It has been aptly dubbed “foreverary.”  Winter snows still blanket the landscape, and spring seems far away.  As COVID concerns linger in early 2022, our days are spent in obscurity.

Many artists, labouring alone, have known a similar loneliness.  Vincent Van Gogh, his talent unappreciated in his lifetime, lamented that, “A great fire burns within me, but no one stops to warm themselves at it, and passers-by only see a wisp of smoke.”

The poet Dante is feeling so weary as he makes his pilgrimage through the Inferno,  but his guide Virgil will have none of it.

“Up on your feet!”  This is no time to tire!”
my Master cried. “The man who falls asleep
will never waken fame, and his desire
and all his life drift past him like a dream
and the traces of his memory fade from time
like smoke in air, or ripples on a stream.”
(Inferno, Canto 24, 49-51, Hollander)

Though we may never experience their acceptance, we are to be faithful in exercising our gifts.  Van Gogh lived in poverty on the fringes of society, and Dante was exiled from his beloved city of Florence.  If they could see the scope of their art in the world today, they would be amazed.

Jesus tells the ordinary men who followed him that they, too, must be “up and going.”  They have been with him for months as they trekked through the Judean countryside.  They have the unique vantage point of eyewitnesses.  They suffer through his crucifixion and thrill at his resurrection.  Their accounts have a kindling power, though they will suffer for the telling.

When we’re caught in the doldrums, when the February blahs threaten to affect our mood, then it’s time to faithfully do the next right thing.  It may seem trifling and insignificant to others.  No one else may see what you see.

Who knows what will succeed and what will fail until we make an attempt?  When we write a poem, when we create art, we plant a seed for the future that may very well blossom in another place, in another time, for someone yet unborn.