The definition of mortality is something on which most of us can agree; the definition of spirituality, however, is far more personal. It is the elusive spiritual connection to mortality that my work addresses. Having struggled for a definition of spirituality that is broad and inclusive of almost any perspective, I found some of the most expansive views in the medical community. Ruth Murray, R.N., defines spirituality as “a quality that goes beyond religious affiliation, that strives for inspiration, reverence, awe, meaning and purpose, even in those who do not believe in God. The spiritual dimension tries to be in harmony with the universe, strives for answers about the infinite, and comes essentially into focus in times of emotional stress, physical (and mental) illness, loss, bereavement and death.”
Inspired by the poem titled “O May I Join the Choir Invisible” by George Elliot, this series looks at, and poses questions about, mortality from this kind of loosely defined spiritual perspective. In Elliot’s poem, the “choir invisible” is made up of “of those immortal dead who live again in minds made better by their presence.” Whether filled with loved ones, historical mentors, spiritual figures or a combination of the three, we all have an invisible choir of voices that inspires us through hardship, and “with their mild persistence urge our search to vaster issues.” In this body of work each image is a metaphor for a song from that choir. Some are from my small personal choir and some are drawn from the massive, collective choir that sings for all humanity; some are lyrical ballads and some are melodic improvisations, but all speak to our universal search for meaning in the face of the most difficult and unifying aspect of being human – our mortality.