111 Day Artistic Spirit Pledge: Spiritual Growth Through Creative Expression
Day 32: Do Artistic Spirits Rest Here?
115 years ago today, my great-great grandfather was laid to rest at the age of 45. He emigrated from Ireland around the mid-1880’s, got married (once he arrived in Philly, I believe), and had five children by the time of his passing in 1899. Thomas and his wife Elizabeth are mysterious yet intriguing figures to me. I want to know more about their lives in Ireland, why they chose to immigrate to the states, why they chose Philadelphia, and what life was like once they arrived.
Why include this topic during the Artistic Spirit Pledge? The answer is two-fold.
Firstly, I yearn to know more about how art influenced their lives in the late 1800’s. Did Thomas or Elizabeth have creative skills like singing, dancing, knitting, glass-blowing? When Thomas returned from a long day’s labor, did he find solace in playing a musical instrument for his family or singing Irish folk tunes?
Secondly, by asking the questions above I am inspired to create fictional stories. It’s as though I’m creating characters and developing them with each new detail I imagine. My ancestors weren’t just names, birth dates , and cemetery plot markers – they were experiencing life in their time and place. Ancestry research stimulates my creativity, sharpens my data research skills, and inspires me to not only tell my story but to tell those of my ancestors.
Have you done family history research? Do you have some interesting characters in your tree?
**I am an Artistic Spirit! For most of my life I’ve used the creative arts as a source of spiritual exploration and healing, even though I didn’t always do so consciously. Sometimes I was the instrument creating the art and other times I was on the receiving end. The connection between art and spirituality is so significant in my life that it’s infused into everything I do. I love music, theatre, television drama series (daytime and primetime), and creative writing and find fulfillment in artistic expression of various sorts: singing, acting, and jewelry design. Throughout the next 79 days, I’ll delve into how all of the above strengthens my spirit and has saved my life on more than one occasion.**
3 thoughts on “Day 32 of the Artistic Spirit Pledge”
Fascinating post. My parents gave me lots of stories–the great -grandfather who taught himself English by reading the newspaper, the grandmother raised in a convent from the age of five because her stepmother didn’t want her at home, the other grandmother held alone as a child for months at Ellis Island because of health problems. My daughter begs for the same stories now, requesting “family history.” I think where we came from is a great source of inspiration for art. What were their lives like?
Exactly! We can only imagine what they were thinking and feeling (unless we have journals or letters from them), and imagination can lead to tremendous art. I went to Ellis Island this past year and was moved by the stories, photos, sculptures, and audio narrations. I wondered about everyone who came through – those who were granted access, those who were sent back, and those who needed to stay for further medical evaluation.
I’m also interested in my family history and have been investigating it for about fifteen years now. There are so many stories hidden in the branches and it’s so delightful when a new one is discovered. Even more wonderful when it can be verified by an old letter, photograph, or something else you can physically hold.