Art Will Save Us – 32 years in Camden

thumbnail_KIMG1255  I moved to Camden, N.J. 32 years ago after my father died, to get away from Cherry Hill taxes and to become part of the Sacred Heart Church community.

Yesterday there was a birthday celebration in the rectory chapel – such a familiar place and so many familiar faces – for the person who influenced my journey to Camden: Father Michael Doyle.

I’m grateful to Michael for maintaining an intercultural, spiritual community where art and individuality matter and I have been able to do my own thing: teaching and doing art with all ages from pre-school to old age, where I’m now at!

I recounted to him a short trajectory of my move:  1) Japanese Buddhist monks passing through Camden (at his request) at the end of their peace march from California in the early 1980s. 2) Michael’s writings in the ’80s about Bobby Sands in an Irish prison. 3) Michael’s primary teaching that “Art Will Save Us.”

1)  I lived in Tokyo in the ’60s when Catholics were taught that even visiting a non-Catholic (no less non-Christian) Church would mean not going to heaven. I was going to Buddhist Temples – which did not bode well for my future… until those monks, in the 80s, were invited to unfurl their banners at Sacred Heart Church and chant their sutras. All was not lost for me – and the beauty of Buddhism and Catholicism (post Vatican II) was also unfurled…

2) The compassion Michael showed for those in Irish prisons as well as for the poor in Camden was somewhere I needed to live and to learn.

3) My connections to the places I had lived – Manhattan, Tokyo, Honolulu, Cherry Hill, were Art-centered:  music, painting, pottery, literature, individual inspiration and creativity…

Thanks for the gift of YOU, Monseigneur Doyle, for many years of joy and learning in Camden, my home.

And many more Happy Birthdays to come!

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