When I reached the depths of my own journey, living in an abandoned cinder-block house with no doors or windows, no electricity, no bathroom, and no running water, I found that my requirements for reading material had altered dramatically.
I couldn’t read even good books from outstanding authors—books I had read and loved in the past. They didn’t work for me anymore. They felt shallow. They didn’t give me what I needed.
The only things I could read were Homer, Shakespeare, and the King James Bible.
I loved these. I would crack the Old or New Testaments at random, not for anything “religious,” just for the poetry. Within three verses, I’d be weeping.
And Ruth said to Naomi, Entreat me not to leave thee, or to refrain from following after thee.
For whither thou goest, I will go; where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God. Where thou diest, I will die, and there shall I be buried.
The Lord do all this to me and more, if aught but death part thee and me.
That was when I became a believer in art. I was deep in my own myth. I needed help. Only real myth could sustain me. But once I found it, I recognized it—and it did sustain me when nothing else could.
It was clear to me, then, that my heart and my journey were no different from those of every soul throughout history, male and female, who had made the passage before me.
A few of these artists, inspired by who knows what, had managed to leave a sign for us who followed, a blaze on a tree, three stones piled up beside the trail. God bless them. They saved my life.
No one can ever tell me that art is trivial, or mere diversion, or entertainment. The real stuff is mother’s milk. We can’t live without it. It guides us and sustains us.
It’s my religion.