The Muses of ancient Greece were the goddesses of inspiration (we get our word “music” from them, by the way.) Inspiration is the energizing in-flow of the breath of God, a breath of wind or spirit. And a mysterious and ephemeral thing it is; as you know “the wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.” (John 3:8)
Would that we all lived a life so attuned to the movement of God’s spirit that inspiration was as near to us as our next breath. The result of inspiration is the stuff that makes life worth living: music, poetry, art, humor…any creative endeavor, really. You just never know when or whence the muse will come: in a memory, a random phrase, a dream. But whatever: when it does come, you should listen. Because that’s God talking to you. And sometimes the muse comes in a piece of art sent to you by your friend Kim.
Okay… my friend Kim. A ridiculously well-educated and highly skilled guitarist (unlike some others of us,) Kim is privy to all kinds of esoteric stuff that professors share with one another. She is nice enough to let me play along (sometimes literally) and when she finds something funny (especially of the geeky, esoteric variety) she shares it with me.
And one of the great things about being a geek of any kind is the hilarity that ensues when geeks share esoteric stuff.
Y’all. This is Jesus. Baby Jesus in swaddling clothes. Playing a cross shaped like a guitar. And…wearing earbuds? (What in the world does Jesus listen to on his iPod?) This confection of pure awesomeness comes to us from Kim’s friend Bryan, who found it in an out-of-print book entitled something like “Art from Baroque Mexico.”
Now, neither of these professors lives in Austin. But here in Austin we LOVE our baroque Mexican art. And what’s not to love about what Bryan says is “The Infant Jesus, Redeemer. Baby Jesus is playing a guitar in the shape of a cross with images of the Passion surrounding him.” The artist is unknown, from a private collection.
One of my other esoteric friends, Clint the Latin Teacher, tells me that the ribbon scroll says this: “Cantabiles mihi erant iustificationes tuae in loco peregrinationis meae.” It is Psalm 119:54: “Your statutes have been my songs wherever I make my home.” (NRSV) The Latin more literally reads: “Your statutes were my songs in the place of my wandering.”
We are co-creators (with God) of the world, my friends. God is with us when we wander, wherever we make our home, and when we sing, and when we share fantastic stuff like this with one another. God is with us, talking to us and inspiring us to enjoy creation, and each other. Doesn’t this Baroque Baby Jesus Playing the Guitar While Wearing Earbuds just make you want to get over yourself? It does me.