Do one thing at a time —
Watch out, pay attention —
There are as many ways to define mindfulness and meditation as there are people who walk the way (or try to).
In The Museum Age, Germain Bazin (distinguished art historian and chief curator of paintings at the Louvre during his lifetime) put it like this:
“Statues must be isolated in space, paintings hung far apart, a glittering jewel placed against a field of black velvet and spot-lighted; in principle, only one object at a time should appear in the field of vision. Iconographic meaning, overall harmony, aspects that attracted the nineteenth century amateur, no longer interest the contemporary museum goer, who is obsessed with form and workmanship; the eye must be able to scan slowly the entire surface of a painting. The act of looking becomes a sort of trance uniting spectator and masterpiece.”
I was first made aware of the need to strip away in order to truly “see” by Br. Eric of the ecumenical community of Taizé. Br. Eric was an artist, who not only produced wonderful works himself, but enabled his friends to put on an “artist’s eye”, to see more, and deeper, than we ever had before. One of the ways, he taught me, was to put away all the objects on a surface except one. It didn’t matter how beautiful the individual objects were; they all were to be put away except a single one, which then had space around it. And in the space, it could be seen. Really seen.
As with space, so with time. To do things quickly, to rush to get them done, was to slight them. And to multi-task — that is to do none of them! A mantra given to him by his own spiritual director was Do One Thing at a Time. Br. Eric was certainly on the same wave length as M. Bazin. Perhaps even now they are conversing about art, or other agreeable subjects, in the Elysian fields. I smile to think so.
You can try this experiment: Look at the thumbnail of Br. Eric’s painting, Convergence, leading off this post. It’s tucked in a corner, small, surrounded by print and ideas. Did you even notice it?
Now click on this link to Br. Eric’s painting and nothing else needs to be said. (But you might want to take a few deep breaths and spend a little time here.)