As we finished our second showing of the Jeweler's Shop tonight, I started to get mesmerized by the magic of the theater and fancied that I could look into the mirror of the Jeweler's Shop window and see time bent to suit our vision -- and I saw young Karol in the faces of the actors performing at the Obsidian Art Space in Houston. Krackow 1941, Houston 2011. 70 years in a flash - there he is, performing for the Rhapsodic Theater. Devoted to the task of the play -- memorizing long lines of dialogue -- enthralled with the beauty of the verse and the color of the scene. Pope John Paul II continued to live the actor's life, not because he loved the limelight or he was good at hamming it up; but rather because he retained his youthful love of the beautiful, he stood in awe before the depth and passion of the human person, felt grief over human weakness and foible, and mastered the craft of an art. Actors are "all in" and give of themselves for a common good.
SO I look away from the mirror where I saw Karol's face and heard his voice, and turned to the Letter to Artists (found here on line) and I read:
Society needs artists, just as it needs scientists, technicians, workers, professional people, witnesses of the faith, teachers, fathers and mothers, who ensure the growth of the person and the development of the community by means of that supreme art form which is “the art of education”. Within the vast cultural panorama of each nation, artists have their unique place. Obedient to their inspiration in creating works both worthwhile and beautiful, they not only enrich the cultural heritage of each nation and of all humanity, but they also render an exceptional social service in favor of the common good.
We need artists; we need more young people devoted to art; we need more young people memorizing their lines and working with a team to present the tragedies and comedies of our human life; we need more young people with palette and pencil tracing out the shadows and forms of things; we need more young people playing music and singing. They enrich us as no one else can. True wealth. The wealth of humanity. Beauty -- the wealth of God!
And young Karol - turned John Paul II -- would also remind us --
A spirituality of artistic service. Yes, art is based on a deep generosity and nobility of spirit. An ethic as well -- there is a justice to the text (or the canvas and color, the strings, or material), a cooperation with others, a courage to face the unknown and attempt the grand gesture, a restraint of ego for showing the face of the other.The particular vocation of individual artists decides the arena in which they serve and points as well to the tasks they must assume, the hard work they must endure and the responsibility they must accept. Artists who are conscious of all this know too that they must labor without allowing themselves to be driven by the search for empty glory or the craving for cheap popularity, and still less by the calculation of some possible profit for themselves. There is therefore an ethic, even a “spirituality” of artistic service, which contributes in its way to the life and renewal of a people. It is precisely this to which Cyprian Norwid seems to allude in declaring that “beauty is to enthuse us for work, and work is to raise us up”.
So with good reason does John Paul II write this letter to artists and say "I feel closely linked [to you artists] by experiences reaching far back in time and which have indelibly marked my life." The portrait of Wojtyla as a young man; it is seen in the mirror of his own art.