The arts matter because when I felt all out of sorts this morning, my itunes suddenly started playing a beautiful Swedish waltz that brought me home to myself, calmed my frenzied mind and opened my heart.
The arts matter because the paintings of Paul Hotvedt, photographs of Jerry Sipe, paintings of Joan Foth and so much other visual art showed me how to see the earth and sky.
The arts matter because a child in a fifth grade class who didn’t think she was good at anything discovered one day that she was good at writing poetry, making me remember how I discovered the same thing when I was in tenth grade.
The arts matter because my friend rose from her chair at the dance symposium and started dancing to illustrate how dance belongs to all of us, showing us what it means to live in, to be a body with its own grace and beauty despite age and change.
The arts matter because an elder woman with her walker managed to get down the long hall and sit at the round table where, writing about her first kiss 60 years earlier, she rose above the pain she had felt lately, and lifted us with her.
The arts matter because an old friend just sent me a poem she wrote, the first in years, to convey the depth of feeling she had about what stories of her life are held in a specific old house.
The arts matter because Eileen Stewart, a self-appointed angel in New York’s Greenwich Village, cared enough about theater that she started LaMaMa theater, and then made costumes, promoted shows and even swept the stairs to bring us the likes of Sam Shepherd, Harvey Fierstein and many other theater greats.
The arts matter because a woman living out her last months with lung cancer could dress herself in something bright and come to a writing workshop, where she was able to put into words her life’s most precious stories for her family.
The arts matter because tonight I heard a young man stand up and read something he wrote that helped us all understand what mourning as a community means.
The arts matter because when it comes to learning to speak civilly with each other, shorten distances between polarized communities, and find a common vision, there’s no stronger bridge when the one made of art: a song, a painting, a shared experience mediated through the lens of the arts, gives us new language, courage and understanding of how to listen to each other.
The arts matter because tonight we sang our prayers for Friday night services, knowing what the Talmud affirms: singing way doubles the power of prayer.
The arts matter because the world in day or night, summer heat or winter ice, is so expansively mysterious and powerful that we need all the help we can get to open up our wide vision and see — through music, writing, art, dance, theater, and other arts — what it means to be alive.