Thanks, Cheri, for a perfect theme for this first photo challenge in the new year. As we end 2015 and begin 2016, this is a great time to reflect on the past year and look ahead to the next.
Like many of us, I used to think that time was a straight line, a linear progression from point A to point B. My concept of the human lifespan was linear too–beginning at birth, racing through middle age, and slowing down in old age. But the longer I live here on this earth, the more I realize that our lives are guided by the circle. I recognize the wisdom of ancient matriarchal societies, where the circle was honored in architecture and religion, and used as a tool for self discovery. So with no further delay, here’s my collection of images which feature the circle in art, nature, religion, and architecture.
Circles in Art: Shot in the Modern Wing, the Art Institute of Chicago. This image reminds me that all living creatures are on the “endless round”–a circular path from birth to death repeated throughout the ages. It also reminds me that no age is better than another. Youth and beauty have their place, but there is joy and wisdom in mid-life and beyond.
Circles in Nature: Tropical Berries. Cocoa Beach, Florida. The circle is present throughout the natural world. It’s not surprising that it is a symbol of perfection, like the wild berries in the photo below and in the rainbow.
Circles in Religion: A Madonna in Volturara Irpina, Italy. This beautiful mural of the Madonna and Child is in the local church in Volturara Irpina, where my grandfather grew up. You can see the circle motif in the halos, crowns, jewelry, and other religious iconography.
Circles in Architecture: Circle Motif on the Street in Chicago. The circle is a powerful architectural motif, which is pleasing to the eye, perhaps because it signifies wholeness and completeness.
As 2016 begins, I am reminded of the wisdom of the matriarchal religions. They remind us that life isn’t a contest to reach the finish line with our good looks still intact and as much money as we can accumulate. Instead, it is a challenge to discover who we are, to open our hearts to include others who are different from us, and to figure out how we can best contribute to the world to make it a tiny bit better and kinder. This is in fact my ongoing personal challenge for this year.
I’ll end this post with a quote from Albert Einstein:
Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.–Albert Einstein
Have a wonderful 2016, everyone! I hope we all can bring a little bit more light and compassion into the world this year.