Graffiti in Lost Places and Industrial Ruins. PD image courtesy of MaxPixel.

We see (and hear, and feel) a lot of what many might call ‘ugliness’ and acting out these days. While that’s far from a new phenomenon, there are also spikes, or “Monstah Muck Waves,” of it.

Here’s an interesting way to consider such things, or at least some of them. In a beautiful and poetic musing, David Master writes,

“In neglect, there is great beauty. Here, with delicate intricacy and a touch of randomness, the Great Creator has left her mark. Likewise has a mortal – but no lesser – creator left his mark.

The graffiti is on a lamppost. Lampposts bring light to dark city streets. Does this make them sacred?

According to Thomas Moore, sacred spaces are a favourite target for graffiti artists and vandals.

For Moore, this vandalism draws attention to the sacred, which is often maligned, rejected, or ignored in contemporary culture. Moore writes:

“In a symptomatic way vandalism — which favors schools, cemeteries, and churches — paradoxically draws attention to the sacredness of things. Frequently when we have lost a sense of the sacred, it reappears in a negative form. The work of dark angels is not altogether different from those who wear white. Here, then, is another way to interpret the abuse of things – as an underworld attempt to reestablish their sacredness.”

~ David Masters, in “Wandering the Roadsides in Search of Untold Beauty.”

Graffiti at a former roof felt factory in Santalahti, Tampere, Finland. Photo by Methem (Mikko J. Putkonen) – CC via Wikimedia.

When I came across David’s musing quite awhile ago, I found his perspective insightful — how some look to find meaning, and reveal an almost desperate quest to restore their connection with beauty and a sense of sacredness, through acts of vandalism.

This, of course, doesn’t excuse acts of vandalism, but simply looks to find the underlying meaning — that must be found before it can be healed.

Thomas Moore’s insight is Muse-worthy:

“Frequently when we have lost a sense of the sacred, it reappears in negative form … Here, then, is another way to interpret the abuse of things – as an underworld attempt to reestablish their sacredness.”

We could easily consider this interpretation when we see all of the acting out in other ‘unconscious Shadow’ behaviors, too — as an ‘acting out’ that’s rooted in a disconnection from the wellspring of sacredness (or a shattered sense of meaning and real value and worth).

I shared a similar perspective on the neglect of places in this Sophia’s Children post: “Abandoned,” pointing to sister-blogger Andrea’s wonderful musing and photos on finding beauty and meaning in neglected and abandoned places.

Chameleon graffiti outside the station at Xochimilco. Image: CC from CelineBJ via Wikimedia.

What gets expressed — when we see vandalism and neglect around us — is a visual clue to what’s neglected and abandoned within us (and, we can say, within the “collective”).

If we are to heal and transform the former, we must heal what’s been abandoned and defaced within us.

Healing Artistry

Then again, there are also healing “acts of artistry,” where graffiti (or other efforts) actually do aim to restore some beauty — as well as make a statement — in areas of neglect, abandonment, blight, de-souling, and “industrial-culture vandalism.”

Quesada Gardens Initiative in San Francisco. Image courtesy of Katherine Gustafson, featured in the Christian Science Monitor.

This can be literal art, things like cultivating gardens in neglected neighborhoods, or other artistic expressions akin to The Beauty Way of Relating, where we tend, honor, and express Sacred Relationship within and around us.

Your sense?

How might we amplify and increase our own “acts of healing artistry” — literally and metaphorically? What is your unique “healing artistry?”

Explore your possibilities…

Big Love,


* Learn more about the Quesada Gardens Project here, and find the Christian Science Monitor article about the project here.