The Sparrow’s Song
In Greek Mythology, the sparrow is a sacred bird to Aphrodite and symbolizes true love and a spiritual connection. For the past couple of years now I have found myself traveling down a spiritual path, seeking and finding such a connection. This all started as the result of a personal crisis and depression. I was left with feelings of emptiness, meaninglesness and despondency, but also a great longing for something I couldn’t name and which nothing seemed to fulfill in any durable, lasting way.
A Journey Inward
My practice consists of different things, but yoga, meditation and prayer are central to it. Painting and drawing, the art, is also a part of this practice. It has been all along, but now I am more conscious of it. And the painting is both more and less important to me than it was in the past. Perhaps this means I am lessening my attachment to it. If so, then this is a good thing I think. Through my spiritual practice, I find a stronger connection with something deeper and bigger than me. This is done by traveling inward. There, inside, is where I find a truer, more authentic connection with my Self, with other people, and everything which comprises the world around me. A big part of this seems to be about acceptance, starting with self-acceptance, but also acceptance of the people and things surrounding. I’ve spent a big part of my life not liking myself very much on a deep level. So, it seems to me that learning to love oneself unconditionally is the real love. If that’s not true love then I don’t know what true love is.
The Real Sparrow
On August 11th, the day before completing this painting, I was visited by a real sparrow. The creature entered through an open window in the adjoining room. It (he or she) stayed for a short time, exploring, hopping and fluttering about my studio and bedroom, before flying out the window near my easle. Birds such as sparrows, so I believe, can travel freely between our visible world and the invisible world which is just as or more real than the so called “reality” we perceive with our five senses.
The Painted Sparrow
I had a vague idea of what I wanted to explore in this painting, but nothing very clear. I only knew that I wanted a two figure composition, but that’s it. As the painting developed, it became clear that the woman would have something in her hand which the characters in the picture are contemplating together. I didn’t know what it would be, but I had faith that it would appear at the appropriate time without my thinking about it. The painted sparrow, as with the real sparrow, entered the picture near the end of the painting process.
Robert (Bob) B. Froh
“The present life of man upon earth, O King, seems to me in comparison with that time which is unknown to us like the swift flight of a sparrow through the mead-hall where you sit at supper in winter, with your Ealdormen and thanes, while the fire blazes in the midst and the hall is warmed, but the wintry storms of rain or snow are raging abroad. The sparrow, flying in at one door and immediately out at another, whilst he is within, is safe from the wintry tempest, but after a short space of fair weather, he immediately vanishes out of your sight, passing from winter to winter again. So this life of man appears for a little while, but of what is to follow or what went before we know nothing at all.”
from “The Ecclesiastical History of the English People”
by Saint Bede
Thank you for your kind attention, Robert B. Froh