I had a blog post teed up to go out this morning, then life got in the way. I turned on the news, watched the ceremony honoring Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg...then scrapped the planned post entirely. I spent the rest of the day thinking about this remarkable woman who accomplished so much for so many.
During today's ceremony Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt spoke about Justice Ginsburg. I heard the beauty of Hebrew prayer being sung in the US Capitol. Then the Rabbi's opening remarks described a piece of art in Justice Ginsburg's chambers. The work she spoke of contains the Hebrew words "tzedek, tzedek tirdof," which, she explained, translates to "Justice, justice, you must pursue." After the service concluded and long after I'd turned off the TV, I kept thinking about the significance of that piece of art. I wondered how it served Justice Ginsburg while she, in turn, served our country. Did she see it as a daily call to action, or as a visible reminder of her values? Did it make her feel happy about what she'd accomplished? Did it fuel her to keep doing more? Did it offer her religious connection or spiritual comfort? What, I wondered, was behind her choice to place that particular work in her chambers?
Art is often seen as self-expression for the artist, but it can also serve others in a myriad of ways. It can be large, small, analog, digital, decorative or carry a social message, but I think of art's most basic service as connecting us with emotion. Beyond that connection, art can serve as a catalyst to some action that goes beyond ourselves.It can start conversations, unite and divide, shock the conscience, call us to action, or reflect or reject beliefs. Have you ever seen a piece of artwork and felt it "spoke" to you somehow? How we each respond to being spoken by art can be an intensely personal experience. Can a piece of art have enough power to influence our thoughts and actions? I'll never know what that. artwork really meant to Justice Ginsburg but those Hebrew words certainly were reflected throughout her life and in her legacy.
I am pretty much out of words today as I sit here mourning her loss. I leave you with this thought...imagine yourself daily in front of a piece of art that says "Justice, justice you must pursue." Think about how that art might serve you, and in turn, how you could serve others. Even in death Justice Ginsburg is a trailblazer as a woman lying in state in the Capitol. I want to see us continue what she started. May her memory be a revolution.