“Heart and Soul”
The word, “mosaic” is from the medieval Latin musaicum meaning ‘the work of the Muses’. In Greek mythology, the Muses were the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (the goddess of memory), who preside over literature, the arts and sciences. A muse, in contemporary usage, is ‘one who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist’. We might widen that definition to: ‘one who inspires’.
The earliest mosaics likely were Mesopotamian in origin; abstract designs incorporating ivory, stones and shells. Later centuries saw the art form blossom in ornate and colourful versions, in Christian and Islamic architecture, in Byzantine and Chinese art, across the ‘pond’ in South and North American traditional cultural expression, and elsewhere around the world. Often, as with stained glass windows, they tell a story or a legend or ‘paint’ a picture of people at work or play or a portrait of a saint of the early church. Sometimes they appear to be solely an ‘outward and visible sign’ of pure joy.
A mosaic is crafted of broken pieces, molded together to form a whole. Each separate piece may seem destined for the recycle bin or garbage but placed together with care, something new and beautiful is created. That is true for individuals, communities, countries and, we pray, for this ‘fragile earth, our island home’. There is brokenness of all kinds, perhaps visible now during this time of pandemic in a way not confronted before. And yet there are also signs of faith being rediscovered, a sense of community(at a safe distance) gaining strength, a compassion for the most vulnerable in our society not before encountered, a thirst for justice and solidarity with nations around the globe never experienced. Yes, it’s difficult being isolated, but many of us have a place to ‘wait it out’. Others do not have shelter, food or basic necessities. (Note: Most social agencies, including the Community Ministries of the Diocese of Ottawa have ‘donation’ buttons on their web sites. Use them.)
We often speak of the rich Canadian mosaic, with reference to the variety of peoples who have come to call this country home. Will our responsible, compassionate, generous response to this present painful reality and its aftermath, be a defining moment in our history? Will a beautiful new mosaic, created in our homes, our churches, our country, be our legacy? “For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, says the Lord; so shall your descendants and your name remain from new moon to new moon…” Isaiah 66:22