Theme 1 : Artwork 3

Reflection Title: 
New-birth of Wonder
Reflection Content: 

Births come in many and varied ways throughout nature, but few births are as vivid as that of a newborn child. Conception, Jewish tradition tells us, comes about with the presence of a woman, man, and the divine. Gestation of an idea may take years, but that of a womb child only takes nine months. Labour and birth-giving may be quick or arduous, a labour of love; at the end of it, a new face greets the world. For many, if not all, life shifts in that moment of welcoming. A cord is tied, the infant is held close for a dance around a sunlit room. It is the new-birth of wonder: the world no longer imaginable without her.

Story Title: 
Mother’s Womb
Story Content: 

Lord, You search me and You know,
It is You Who know when I sit and I rise,
You fathom my thoughts from afar.
My path and my lair You winnow,
and with all my ways are familiar.
For there is no word on my tongue
but that You, O lord, wholly know it.
From behind and in front You shaped me,
and You set Your palm upon me.
Knowledge is too wondrous for me,
high above—I cannot attain it.
When can I go from Your spirit,
and when from before You flee?
If I soar to the heavens, You are there,
if I bed down in Sheol—there You are.
If I take wing with the dawn,
if I dwell at the ends of the sea,
there, too, Your hand leads me,
and Your right hand seizes me.
Should I say, “Yes, darkness will swathe me,
and night will be light for me,
Darkness itself will not darken for You,
and night will light up like the day,
The dark and the light will be one.
—Psalm 139:1–14


Contemporary Story Title: 
Plentiful Milk
Contemporary Story Content: 

In 1956, seven suburban Chicago mothers began meeting together to socialize and to share advice on parenting. Mary White, one of the founding members of La Leche, had been breast-feeding her youngest child at a church picnic when many women had approached her, expressing their desire to breast-feed their own children. Most of the woman had been counselled not to breastfeed. Together they formed a group and called themselves the “La Leche League,” advocating breast-feeding. At the time it was illegal to use the word “breast” in print, and the group was finding it difficult to advertise meetings or publish newsletters. The name came from a small Catholic shrine in St. Augustine Florida called, “Our Lady of Leche,” or, “Our Lady of Happy Delivery and Plentiful Milk.” This small Spanish shrine, maintained by a monastery of Franciscan friars, contains a statue of the Virgin nursing the Christ-child.

Artwork Title: 
Reading Freud
Artwork Content: 

In 1954, Raquel Tibol, a Mexican art critic, historian and author, interviewed Frida Kahlo, and asked her to describe her painting and its relation to Freud’s 1937 essay, “Moses the Man and Monotheistic Religion.” Frida’s response: 

“I read the book only once, and started the painting with my first impression. . . . What I tried to express most clearly and intensely was that the reason people need to invent or image heroes and gods is because of their fear—fear of life and fear of death. . . . I painted the sun as the center of all religions, as the foremost god, as creator and reproducer of life. . . . Like Moses, there have been, and will be, a huge number of high and mighty people to transform religions and human societies. It can be said that they are a kind of messenger among the rulers and among the gods they invented to rule them.”
—Raquel Tibol, (born 1923). Frida Kahlo: An Open Life.

Question Title: 
In each birth, a new being?
Question Content: 

Second Comings
Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and softly stole away into
some anonymous Mary’s womb again
where in the darkest night
of everybody’s anonymous soul
He awaits again
an unimaginable
and impossibly
Immaculate Reconception
the very craziest
of Second Comings
—Lawrence Ferlinghetti, (born 1919)

Nestled Infant
Who do you recognize in this painting? What are they doing there? And why the ball of the sun above and the waters of life below, the womb floating, suspended? Gods and idols, heroes and villains, prophets—ancient and modern—all surround the nucleus of creation. Did you notice the presence of death and decay? A great cacophony of witnesses to an infant nestled in a reed boat? Is Frida Kahlo, who longed so much for a baby she could not have, inviting us to new birth or just the old coming back around again? Does new birth mark a new beginning? Or, is it simply birth for others or another birth destined to end badly?

Music Title: 
In each birth, a new being?
Music Content: 

Landing Gear

“Landing Gear.” Ani di Franco, Red Letter Year, Righteous Babe Records 2011. Track 10.


Mi al har Horeb [Eulogy of Moses]

All quoted texts are from the Hebrew Bible. This twelfth-century song is the earliest notated musical work in Jewish history.

“Mi al har Horeb.” Obadiah the Proselyte, The Sacred Bridge, John Fleagle, baritone, Joel Cohen, director, Erato 1990. Track 4.


O God, You Search Me

“O God, You Search Me.” Bernadette Farrell, Sisters in Song, Rejoice! Sr. Jeannine Hershiser, OSF, soprano, National Choir of Catholic Sisters, Christopher Walker, director, Sisters in Song 300 2000. Track 11.

Image Thumbnail: 
Image Summary: 

Nucleus of Creation, (Moses, Birth of the Hero), 1945. Frida Kahlo, 1907–1954.

Story Audio: 

U Encounter Online Exhibition

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