Let There Be Light
“Let There be Light” is the pinnacle of my creative experimentation, a work in which I am not the artist, rather the co-creator, during which I channeled the power to create something out of nothing.” Lynn Rae Lowe
My Personal Story of Creating Light from Darkness
How often do the most insignificant gifts, random moments, or sparks of inspiration lead to the creation of light from darkness, and the resolution to share that new light with others?
At his 2001 rabbinical graduation, Rabbi Mark Miller received a gift from his Father-in-Law, Mark Bauman, of Tucson. The gift was a bronze sculpture by a certain Tucson artist; a small piece that would grow over the years into a collection. That artist was me.
Throughout the years, when we would connect, Rabbi Mark would say, “someday, when I’m head Rabbi, I will commission you for a major piece of art.” After about seven years, around 2008, we lost touch.
Four years ago, in 2015, my nephew Erik’s son was bar mitzvahed in the same Temple where I was confirmed; only the Temple had relocated from Detroit to Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. As a teenager in Detroit, I had sung in the choir, above and behind the Bimah(alter). When the service failed to hold my attention, from my second story perch, I would look up at the domed ceiling that depicted the Torah – my own Sistine Chapel with God reaching out to me. I could almost touch Him! Looking back, those two experiences, singing in the choir and interacting with the visual Torah, were my first exposures to a creative spark that has enriched and enlightened my life.
When Erik and his family entered the Rabbi’s study to meet with him, Erik looked around and said, “these look like my Aunt’s art.”
The Rabbi asked, “who’s your Aunt?”
Erik answered, “Lynn Rae Lowe.” The Rabbi told Erik to ask me to come in and see him.
Rabbi Mark! Seven years after we had lost touch, our lives again connected. During our conversation that day, the Rabbi reminded me of his, “one day, when I am head Rabbi” commitment and said it was time. For the next few years he had meetings with his Board. Nothing developed – until last fall.
For Yom Kippur Break Fast, I joined a very dear friend and her adult son to celebrate his life. He had just survived a year of treatment for aggressive prostate cancer. He had beaten the odds, and was declared cancer free. We rejoiced together as her son was written back into the Book of Life.
At almost that same moment, the darkness descended. My oldest son was in an accident and he sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury. Brad was in a coma and no one could predict what would come.
I traveled to Michigan to be with Brad and his family. I wanted to believe that somehow, he was going to be okay. The accident had occurred at the exit to the Number 1 Trauma Hospital in Michigan and a research center for TBIs. He was in the operating room within 10 minutes of impact. It was like an old Charlie Chaplin movie where the EMTs sweep the injured into the ambulance and rush off with sirens wailing.
The timing of one son being written into the Book of Life and my son being possibly written out sent me to see Rabbi Mark while I was in Michigan. Temple Beth El’s new, contemporary sanctuary has soaring ceilings and inspirational light; however, I sat in the what was called the Little Brown Chapel, under the original, 170-year-old Bimah, the same one I sat above in the choir. Waiting for the Rabbi, I was able to reflect in a space filled with personal inspiration and hope.
After I shared with the Rabbi why I was in town, he said, “I have some places I would like for you to consider for the commission we've been talking about." We walked around, discussing options. While the first two were feasible, they didn't resonate. Then he led me back into the Little Brown Chapel.
In the Little Brown Chapel, there is a long wall where the choir was supposed to sit; Temple Beth El no longer has a choir. The organ could no longer be tuned. Rabbi thought the 30’ wall would be a great place for “something.” I turned and said "Seven Panels of the Days of Creation." We both looked at each other and knew the promise he had to me had just been fulfilled. The commission, coming at a time when Michigan was the center of one of the deepest sadnesses of my life, would prove to be one of my most rewarding challenges.
Each time I have returned to support my family and to share in Brad’s ongoing recovery, I have gone to the synagogue for spiritual refueling. During this past year, my art became my creative refuge, helping me to gird my loins for the tests I have been given. I have found that I have been enriched by the opportunity to strengthen my resolve and to share the light of creation with others.
The anniversary of my son’s accident was approaching. Although his life will be forever altered, his recovery has been miraculous. He will be written in the Book of Life for many years to come. And where was I on this anniversary? With him in Michigan to celebrate his new birthday, as well as his 50th birthday a few weeks earlier.
The next day, selichot, marked the 20th anniversary of my husband Buck’s passing. He was my muse, and I was his. I know he would be present, as the seven paintings are unveiled in the Little Brown Chapel on that evening.
Every Friday, Rabbi Mark leads the children of Temple Beth El in the Little Brown Chapel. As they sit beneath the bimah, listening to the Rabbi’s guitar, they will bear witness to “Let There be Light” the Sistine Chapel of my artistic career. Whenever they get distracted from the music, I hope they will find inspiration just as I did.
From darkness comes light.
As it is said in Hebrew, L'dor v'dor, Generation to Generation.
These images are to be viewed, like Hebrew, from right to left.
Temple Beth El
Bloomfield Hills, MI