I am a big fan of Emily St. John Mandel’s book Station Eleven. I am currently watching HBO’s excellent adaption of the book.

Published in 2014, the book imagines a future shaped by a devastating global pandemic. Its focus is less on the trauma of the event than the ways in which the survivors rebuild their lives. Much of the book takes place twenty years after the pandemic kills off much of the population and focuses on The Symphony, a group of actors and musicians who travel around the Great Lakes region playing music and performing the works of Shakespeare. On the side of one of their buggies is painted the line, “Survival Is Insufficient.” The quote, which originates from Star Trek: Voyager, perfectly encapsulates the author’s belief that, even when the chips are down, humans require more than safety, shelter, and food. In the post-apocalyptic world of Station Eleven, there are plenty of reasons to die. Art gives the characters a reason to live.

The last two years have been a reminder of this truth. To really live in this God-created world, we need art, music, dance, poetry, novels. Survival is insufficient. At various times during the course of the pandemic, we missed some forms of art such as going to museums, hearing live music, in-person book club gatherings. And we discovered new ways of connecting with art such as online concerts, zoom choirs, video tours of art collections. And some of us are creating art ourselves in ways that we didn’t before the pandemic. And we were reminded of the power of the arts to create meaning and connection and provide comfort.


What art has sustained you in the last two years? What art are you creating these days?



-Written by Rev. Amy Miracle

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  1. Annette Kuss January 19, 2022 at 11:16 am - Reply

    Steve and I just finished reading the book Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr. It is a marvelous albeit sobering at times, novel that connects our past present and future. That is just the gloss over! If you get it persevere to the end. Steve read it first and assured me it was worth it and he was right!
    I also do watercolor and if you had told me I would get into painting 10 years ago I’d had thought you were crazy!!!

  2. Brian Seeger January 19, 2022 at 11:30 am - Reply

    Classical music has and continues to sustain me during these challenging times. Some that are particularly meaningful to me are Albinoni’s Adagio for Strings, Bach’s Arioso, Dvorak’s Symphony #9 (second movement), Mendelsohn’s 5th Symphony (Reformation), and the Lost Chord by Arthur Sullivan. All of these deeply moving and powerful affirmations.

  3. Rosemary Tolliver January 19, 2022 at 12:41 pm - Reply

    Hmmm — I will have to read Station Eleven, or find the HBO version. Listening to music has been good for my soul, and so has sewing. It started with all the cloth masks and grew into several quilting projects. This morning I made a new hat for myself — out of an old-and-now-too-small wool sweater that accidentally got washed and felted. And I can get lost in my watercolors too, Annette! Grateful for all these gifts….

  4. SALLIE SHERMAN January 19, 2022 at 1:10 pm - Reply

    At work, we’ve been working on a methodology and supporting technology to help leaders lift up themselves and their teams so they can begin to thrive through this change –and those that will surely follow. This work has forced me to practice what we preach, and thus has been a blessing throughout these challenging times.

  5. Libby Wetherholt January 19, 2022 at 2:30 pm - Reply

    Quilting has been a release for me. I find that being at home gives me the large block of time that I feel I need to figure out where I left off the last time I quilted. Since painting is definitely NOT in my wheelhouse, fabric is my method of artistic expression.

  6. Cynthia Hunt January 20, 2022 at 6:36 am - Reply

    Thank you for the reminder, Amy — think we can never hear this reminder often enough. For me it’s been reading during the pandemic and cooking! But as we consider the extension of the current limitations, I’m looking into other options like writing a book, resurrecting some of my undergraduate arts activities or learning piano! I may have to do the ritual clearing of the house first tho…..which I approach with some trepidation.

  7. Jenni January 20, 2022 at 6:30 pm - Reply

    I’m not a deep thinker. Haven’t read the book.
    In my world, survival is sufficient.

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