Archive for November 7th, 2022

GC Myers- Sharing Heart sm

Sharing Heart– At Kada Gallery

Meanwhile the old couple noticed that, as soon as the mixing bowl was empty, it refilled itself, unaided, and the wine appeared of its own accord. They were fearful at this strange and astonishing sight, and timidly Baucis and Philemon murmured a prayer, their palms upwards, and begged the gods’ forgiveness for the meal, and their un-preparedness. They had a goose, the guard for their tiny cottage: as hosts they prepared to sacrifice it for their divine guests. But, quick-winged, it wore the old people out and, for a long time, escaped them, at last appearing to take refuge with the gods themselves. Then the heaven-born ones told them not to kill it. “We are gods,” they said, “and this neighbourhood will receive just punishment for its impiety, but to you we grant exemption from that evil. Just leave your house, and accompany our steps, as we climb that steep mountainside together.”

They both obeyed, and leaning on their sticks to ease their climb, they set foot on the long slope. When they were as far from the summit as a bowshot might carry, they looked back, and saw everywhere else vanished in the swamp: only their own roof was visible. And while they stood amazed at this, mourning their neighbours’ fate, their old cottage, tiny even for the two of them, turned into a temple. Wooden poles became pillars, and the reed thatch grew yellow, until a golden roof appeared, richly carved doors, and a marble pavement covering the ground. Then the son of Saturn spoke, calmly, to them: “Ask of us, virtuous old man, and you, wife, worthy of a virtuous husband, what you wish.”

When he had spoken briefly with Baucis, Philemon revealed their joint request to the gods. “We ask to be priests and watch over your temple, and, since we have lived out harmonious years together, let the same hour take the two of us, so that I never have to see my wife’s grave, nor she have to bury me.” The gods’ assurance followed the prayer. They had charge of the temple while they lived: and when they were released by old age, and by the years, as they chanced to be standing by the sacred steps, discussing the subject of their deaths, Baucis saw Philemon put out leaves, and old Philemon saw Baucis put out leaves, and as the tops of the trees grew over their two faces, they exchanged words, while they still could, saying, in the same breath: “Farewell, O dear companion”, as, in the same breath, the bark covered them, concealing their mouths.

The people of Bithynia still show the neighbouring trees there, that sprang from their two bodies. Trustworthy old men related these things to me (there was no reason why they should wish to lie). For my part, I saw garlands hanging from the branches, and placing fresh ones there said: “Let those who love the gods become gods: let those who have honoured them, be honoured.” 

–Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book VIII, 679-724

Above is the end of the Baucis & Philemon story, taking place after the aged couple have opened their impoverished home to Zeus and Hermes (Jupiter and Mercury, in the Roman version) who were disguised as mortal beggars. The two gods had approached all the homes in the village where Baucis & Philemon resided and were rudely turned away from every home. That is, except for the home of the poor couple.

Baucis and Philemon TreesI told that story a couple of times on Friday evening to folks as we stood before the two Baucis & Philemon-inspired pieces in my current Kada Gallery show, such as Sharing Heart, shown above. It’s a story I have told numerous times here so many of you will be familiar with it.

The one thing I have failed to mention in my past tellings of the tale is that I have my own Baucis & Philemon trees that I see every day. Not more than twenty feet away from the back stairs to my studio’s back entrance, which I use numerous times each day, stands two trees whose trunks have grown together.

Oddly enough, though I have told the Baucis & Philemon story for years, it wasn’t until recent years that I actually noticed that a similar situation was only a glimpse away.

I don’t know what that says about my powers of observation. I guess it’s a case of taking that which is close for granted. We search for distant vistas then often look past those things that are near and familiar, not recognizing that the amazing and the beautiful is readily available to us. Like the old Acres of Diamonds story, the one where the farmer in Africa sells his farm to go search for treasure and the new owner discovers that the farm’s land is rich with diamonds. It soon becomes one of the largest diamond mines in Africa while the former owner fails in his search for treasure.

You might say that we often can’t see the forest for the trees.

But now that I am cognizant of these two mythic lovers living so near, hardly a day goes by that I don’t take pause on the studio steps to appreciate the pair. And I feel just a small bit richer for it…

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