The pre-colombian ceramics were startling and wonderful. The range of color, form, expression, in such a large collection created a remarkable impression. You could see it in the faces of everyone going through the exhibit.
"Ancient West Mexico: Art of the Unknown Past" headlined this exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Jalisco, Colima, and Nayarit cultures, dating back 2,000 years, were represented in the painted clay figures of individual men and women; in ceramic sculptures depicting family life, everyday activities, and important ceremonies; in beautifully and highly decorated bowls.
In the final group of display cases, the exhibit took a different turn - the ancient traditions were tied to their contemporary influences on 20th century artists. There were, for example, two Jalisco figures positioned alongside a plaster model for one of Henry Moore's best-known bronzes. Links were noted to the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, to the paintings of Paul Gauguin and Diego Rivera, among others.
Surely, the Jalisco and Colima artisans of so long ago couldn't possibly have foreseen that their works would be on display in a major art museum of a city like Los Angeles, or known what impact their endeavors would have on sculptors and painters centuries later. Yet here it was. And as I saw a young artist sketching one of the displays, it was clear the influence was continuing.
What if each of us today consciously considered the influence our own lives could have not only on those around us but on future generations? Would we think more carefully about our words and actions? How might we live? What might we hope to accomplish?
This doesn't have to be a difficult challenge. Because the greatest influence anyone's life can achieve comes through expressing God, which actually is entirely natural to us all. It's what we're created by Him to be and do.
Mary Baker Eddy, who founded this newspaper, often pointed in her writings to the difference that one individual can make in the world. Her own life bore remarkable witness to this - through healing people; through writing "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures"; through founding a church and a publishing house. "Your influence for good," she wrote, "depends upon the weight you throw into the right scale" (Science and Health, pg. 192).
What is this scale? Wouldn't it essentially have to do with our thinking, since everything we accomplish has to be realized in consciousness before it can become actual in experience? So, if we wish our lives to be an influence for good, wouldn't we throw into the scale of consciousness thoughts of good, of God?
The good that God creates is the divine reality in which we all truly live and move and have our being. As we go through our days praying to express God's goodness - in our work, in our relationships, in everything we do - we're actually bringing the power of that reality to bear on the human experience. Then, whatever is bad, hurtful, hateful, limited, sickly, or ugly must diminish in influence. What opposes the divine good is unreal, not of God, not powerful; and as we understand this truth, our lives progressively include spiritual power, freedom, grace, healing. This is how Christ Jesus lived and how he taught his followers to live.
We are all the children of God; each of us is His spiritual expression. We're made in His likeness. Acknowledging this in our prayer, understanding our relation to God, loving truth and expressing it in what we say and do each day - that's our influence for good. That's throwing our weight into the right scale. What a wonderful influence for good our lives then are - today, tomorrow, into the next millennium.
Thou art worthy, O Lord,
to receive glory and honour
and power: for thou hast
created all things, and for
thy pleasure they are
and were created.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society