Most of us are aware that by shifting the perspective one brings to any situation – whether it is a mechanical problem to be solved, a beloved relationship that needs attention, or a spiritual disconnect that needs to be renewed – one is usually blessed with another way to ‘see.’ More often than not, if one seeks to look at a person, place or thing with a new-pair-of-glasses – one will see it anew.
Seeing with a new-pair-of-glasses is inherent in the work of making paradigm shifts in cultures and institutions; having empathy in social justice seeking and personal relationships; and trying on different practices – be they eating habits, exercise regimens, or rituals of faith – to build one’s own physical, emotional and spiritual wellness.
This is also one of the great blessings of being intentional about experiencing people and cultures that are not our own. When we show up to see new things, when we look for new experiences and new sights, we are blessed with a new-pair-of-glasses!
At the heart of the mission of the Lakota YouthStay program is the goal to create cultural understanding across two cultures; to foster authentic, mutually fulfilling relationships between Native American youth from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and youth/adults from Eastern Massachusetts.
We were all blessed with new perspectives from the presence of the youth, their advisors and all of the Tipi Day ‘artists’ who lovingly shared themselves, their beautiful culture and traditions, and their art with us and with the City of Medford.
But I was blessed with a unique experience as I received and chose the art to be installed from the hundreds of photos taken by #LakotaYouthStay2018! With only a couple of hours of preparation from photographer and teacher, Susan D’Arcy Fuller, the eleven Lakota youth who arrived in Medford for one week of cultural immersion handed me another new-pair-of-glasses that kind of blew my mind.
With cameras in hand, they collected their experience of our community through their new glasses and in my ‘private screening’ of all of their work, I too got to see things afresh. There was the railroad from the level of the rocks in the bed; there was a Sanctuary chair so close that you could see between the threads of the fabric; there was a well-worn sneaker from the perspective of the sole; there was a security guard whose private thoughts seemed to be caught out loud by the photographer, there was… well, you get the ‘picture’.
It is hard to explain all of the surprises I experienced, but I can say that one of the coolest things was the realization that many youth took photos of the same scene or experience or thing (they were after all doing the same thing are the same time). But because they were each framing it through their lenses, each piece became as unique as the youth who framed it – and each was it’s own work-of-art. They had listened to the lessons well, so they looked at their subjects from different angles – once from a bird’s eye view and again from a worm’s eye view; once in a close-up and then from the side. I had in my hands a real, clear, practical example of the wisdom of the ages. When you only look at something one way – it is what it is and it is often not very interesting. But when you alter the angle, when you shift the view, when you look at it from multiple directions – that creates interest and a fresh perspective and all of a sudden you are wearing a new pair of glasses – and everything changes!
We are so blessed to have met these young people and their advisors and we pray that you would come to Sanctuary UCC to see for yourself their Art Gallery Show, installed from August 1 through August 30!
The Gallery @ Sanctuary is open: Tuesday – Friday (11 – 6 pm); Saturday (9 to noon)
Sunday, August 12, 10 am we will use this show for ARTChurch.
Rev. Wendy Miller Olapade, August 1, 2018