Edge of Faith May 2017 - Page 42

That’s what I said, “wow!” Part of Teresa Avila’s idea about this meditation is that you go into your interior castle, but you also understand that because you are inside the castle walls, you are in a safe place. Guess who resides in the castle? God, right, so you truly are in a safe place. You are literally in the presence of God. You visualize this cas- tle interior and you start exploring it, piece by piece, and every room that you go in, you designate as the residence of what she calls “reptiles.” In new terms, you might say one of your shadows, so your reptiles are these character flaws. They are your issues, whatever it is that you are dealing with that makes us stumble from time to time or be less than we hope to be. This meditation was teaching me that I needed to learn mercy and that the flip-side of mercy is punishment. The punisher in me was my reptile that I needed to address; that I needed to meet and con- front. I have known for a long time that I have perfection- ist tendencies. If you look at perfection, one side is show- ing mercy when things aren’t perfect and the other side is responding with the punisher. That can get really ugly. You can punish other people, you can punish yourself; a lot of us do, for being less than perfect. This was really amazing because I began to spend a lot of time thinking about what perfection really means to me. What is the importance of perfection? What does perfection look like? Practicing mercy until the impulse to punish is no longer one of my reptiles, is now my vision for perfection. Your whole dualistic conversation makes me think of the orthodox icon of Jesus where half his face is depicting God as the punisher and the other half of his face is the human characteristic of Jesus who is coming to save us. It’s pretty interesting. I haven’t seen it, but I’d like to. At first glance, you just think it’s just an icon of Jesus, but as someone points it out or if you’re an artist you will probably notice it, half the face is one way and half is the other. If you cover it, you can see it. It is wonderful that you shared your thoughts and your inspiration on the pieces. I have often felt that to be an artist is to be a philosopher, and to be a godly artist is to be a theologian. Thanks for being a good theologian. 42 • The Art of Faith Magazine • www.aofmag.com Well, I am flattered. Thank you! These paintings are so personal that I try to find a visual vocabulary that is more archetypal so that it can reach out to others, but you never really know. I think a lot of people will look at the piece and now they’ll have a much deeper understanding and hopefully can move them towards their perfection as well. Thank you once again for taking the time to talk to us and shar- ing your thoughts! Your welcome, it’s been my pleasure! Bruce Herman AOF: Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself and your background? HERMAN: Sure. Well, I grew up in a family that moved quite a lot when I was in my formative years. My dad was a businessman and he was transferred quite often, so I lived in the first nine years of my life in three different cities in Virginia. Then, when I was about nine or ten, we moved to upstate New York where we lived in Rochester and Buffalo. In Buffalo I became a teenager and I really discovered a serious commitment to making art. As a kid I was incessantly drawing and painting and trying to make art, but I got a serious art teacher in junior high school in Buffalo who took me seriously and pushed me really hard. I also got involved in a rock band, played lead guitar and sang vocals; that kind of crazy stuff in the ’60s. Then we moved to Atlanta, Georgia in ’66 or ‘67. About that time, I began to get interested in mysticism. I got involved in taking psychedelic drugs not for the sake of getting high, but because I believed I could find my way to some understanding of God. I started reading in Buddhist and Zen teachings and got very deeply involved in Eastern mysticism, probably for about 15 years of my life. Even though I was committed Christian, I’d been baptized and confirmed in the Episcopal Church and believed in Jesus, I was drawn to the experiential aspect of Eastern phi- losophy and Eastern religion because the churches I had grown up in really didn’t emphasize religious experience at all. I didn’t really ever feel like they got the connec- tion between art-making, and visual art was kind of the odd man out. Music was always dead center in Christian circles. So I found my way; I went to India. I was a fol- lower of Meher Babba, who was a spiritual master from India, and was there about 12 years all the while still believing in Jesus. I was still hoping there was a way to find my way closer to God, and eventually through this long, circuitous way, which I won’t go into in any detail here, I found my way back to Christian faith. I renounced a lot of what I had been practicing, and thinking, and believ- ing; those things centered on the more mystical Eastern What I’m finding out now as I’m doing more research, is that actually a lot of mod- ern artists were deeply, if not religious in the con- ventional sense, they were really trying to find spiritual truth in and through their process as an artist.” philosophical orientation. During that time of conflict and trying to find my way back, I did meet and marry Meg Matthews here in Gloucester, Massachusetts. We got married. We started having kids right away, very young. We’ve been married 43 years. We have a 42-year-old son and a 38-year-old daughter, and five grandchildren. We live in Gloucester; for most of our marriage we’ve lived in here. For 30 years we’ve lived on the