Let the Beauty we Love be What we do
The following lines of poetry, first breathed by Sufi mystic Rumi and later masterfully translated into English by Coleman Barks, inspire both my theological locus and the way in which I make art. Rumi writes:
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
These lines speak to me of the importance of action and of the loveliness of diversity. Rumi encourages “do” the beauty we love. Participate in it. Bring it to fruition. Chip away at the ugly that blocks the beauty you love. Do it. There are hundreds of ways. Pick a one. Heck, pick a few.
I love the process of doing art—of mixing paint pallets, of cutting up old books, of sketching city layouts. I love overalls and ink-stained hands. I love the rhythm of creating. But my artistic process functions as a means to explore themes beyond balanced composition and color choice. I want to study the “stuff” of life—the heartbreak, the healing, the hope, the circumstances, the circles, the way all of these things overlap and intersect.
This often brings me to the subject matter of cities. I like cities because when we look at a skyline from a distance, we see a cohesive and often lovely image (especially at night). We see buildings and lights against the sky and under the moon. But, from afar, we do not see the thousands or millions of people in the city. Not only do we not see them, but we do not know who they are or what they are experiencing. When I look at a skyline, I think: what is happening in those buildings? Who’s hugging and who’s mugging? Who’s making up and who’s breaking up? Who’s dreaming and who’s dying? Who’s loving and who’s lying?
I tend to represent the “stuff” happening in these cities not through detailed object renderings, but rather through movement, shape and color. I have found repeating circles to be one of my favorite way of exploring these overlaps and intersections. So, what are the circles? They are people waiting for the subway. They are flashing city lights. They are stars in the night sky. They are puffs of CO2. They are prayers and hopes, whispers and shouts, memories and laughs. After attending a Taizé service recently, I am convinced that the circles are repeated chants of peace swirling in and around the city eventually breaking free and flinging upwards to the sky. The point is, the circles are circular—they are floating, spinning and slippery. But it is our duty to fling up circles that are good for our city—the prayers, the encouragement, the understanding, the activism, the passion, the solidarity.
I love the beauty of slipperiness; this is why I choose abstract over realism and poetry over dogma (and Hebrew over Greek?). This is why I choose feminist theology, where the beauty of multiplicity is tenderly cared for instead of stifled out. Remember, there are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
Molly Bolton, Wake Forest School of Divinity ‘14
 Barks, Coleman. Rumi: The Book of Love: Poems of Ecstasy and Longing (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 2003), 123.
 Coleman, Rumi: The Book of Love, 123.