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Poor Will's Almanack: May 3 - 9, 2016

On a recent trip to the Museum of Glass in Corning, New York, I saw a small figurine: a prone girl of raku-fired ceramic, a glass replica of her rising from her waist.

The work was called “While You Were Sleeping,” and it was created by Christina Bothwell, a Pennsylvania sculptor. The artist’s statement said that the sculpture was “to make visible the idea that we are souls housed in skin bodies.” The medium of glass, stated the artist, “holds light in its mass, just as the spirit is held in the physical body.”

The idea was certainly not a novel one to me, but it struck me hard, as art can sometimes do, and put me off-balance. It was, I suppose, the use of transparent glass, which was material but represented spirit, that was, in the hands of Christina Bothwell, equally as credible and as substantial, as the raku ceramic flesh. The truth of the sculpture suddenly converted me, exposing the parity of dimensions.

It brought to mind an incident several years ago in which the spirit of someone very dear to me appeared to a family member, her spirit body even more beautiful than her physical body had been.

And I was reminded by the encounter in the museum of the correspondence between spirit and form, and of how new life in springtime is not simply some elusive invigoration of matter but a mirror of the outward shape as well as an infusion of the mass of soul, which, except for its medium, is identical to everything in the tangible creature.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the third week of late spring. In the meantime, think about all the souls arriving in the world around you. 

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