We are thrilled to share this lovely reflection on Eric’s show, written by Rev. Dr. John R. Heidel. Enjoy!
Ten Thousand Fragments
One of the joys of travel, for me, is to stroll into a place of worship and sit for awhile in reflection on the interconnections of architecture, art and spirituality. Moments of serenity and insight have been discovered in small country churches and in large urban cathedrals, in Jewish synagogues and in Buddhist temples, in a Muslim mosque and a Hindu shrine.
My latest experience resulted from a stroll down Nuuanu Avenue on Slow Art Friday and a visit to the Peggy Chun Gallery where her son, Eric Chun, had opened his exhibit of wood sculpture and digital painting. While the excellent quality of the art was no surprise, I was somewhat pleasantly surprised by the spiritual experience that awaited me.
Eric has significantly named his exhibit “Ten Thousand Fragments” and seems to suggest there are an infinite number of ways to understand life by observing the ordinary that surrounds us; from the fragments of our living we can make connections with our spiritual nature.
When you enter the gallery door you encounter three large slices of a Manoa monkey pod that portray the three treasures listed in verse 67 of the Tao Te Ching; moderation, love and humility. Set within each polished board is a video stream that draws you into deep reflection about a life of moderation that is lived with compassion and gentleness, a life of love that is lived with frugality and service and a life of humility that is lived with selflessness and wisdom. Without these treasures our lives can be overcome by violence, extravagance and pride; life loses it’s purpose and morality. With them our lives are open to what the Tao Te Ching calls The Great Integrity – a good, full life.
Next, my eyes were drawn to a series of digital paintings that had a common theme of trees; reminiscent of Eric’s tree trimming days. With titles like “Lift of Compassion” and “The Arms of Nirvana” my mind was transported toward the reality that The Holy can be found everywhere; sometimes unplanned and unexpected – when we’re open to the possibility.
Along one wall of the gallery is a rather large structure made from recycled wood that is titled “Inner Space” and which refers to verse 11 of the Tao Te Ching; the value of the unexpressed. Shapes may contain a space but the usefulness of the space is determined by other factors. As such, within the large hallow of the space sits a small Korean bell. The bell, often used for an invitation into meditation, suggests a specific idea to me; personal reflection on the purpose of my life. Our bodies are the shapes that contain our soul and spirit but the usefulness of this inner space is yet to be determined.
My overall favorite in the exhibit is titled “Spiritual Spelunker” and is connected to verse 43 of the Tao Te Ching. A beautiful piece of norfolk pine from Kuli’ou’ou, Oahu frames a cave into which an explorer is descending and where he finds three Holy figures from different faith traditions. In our exploring of creation we are often interrupted by a discovery of the Sacred. Whether it’s in the mountains or on a beach, on a stroll around a lake or inside a cave, in outer space or in inner space, we can encounter the mystery of the spiritual. While it sometimes requires a risk and a daring attitude to intentionally explore spiritual space, discovery and enlightenment can also happen when you least expect it; with no effort or planning or words.
We are all spiritual seekers and we each try to make sense out of this life we share together in our own unique ways. I’m grateful to Eric for sharing a few of the “ten thousand” possibilities with us. Travel blessings to everyone as we traverse our individual, yet interconnected, spiritual journeys.
Rev. Dr. John R. Heidel
Minister, United Church of Christ
President, The Interfaith Alliance Hawaii
Member, Christ Church Uniting Disciples and Presbyterians, Kailua