#6 The Spanish Butterfly Blog: Holy Toledo!

“Holy Toledo!” – Illuminated on the distant wall was El Greco’s famous painting, “The Disrobing of Christ.” My jaw literally dropped open – the striking reds and yellows, the luminous expressions, and, most powerful, his use of light. I could feel the light coming through. With every brush stroke, El Greco expressed his inner vision, an outer light reflecting his inner light.

Housed in a gorgeous chapel of La Catedral, this masterpiece is a gem in “The City of the Three Cultures.” For centuries, Toledo was a model for religious acceptance, a place where Catholics, Jews, and Muslims lived in harmony. Perhaps it was this accepting atmosphere that convinced El Greco (originally from Greece as his name implies), a controversial painter ahead of his time, to settle in Toledo in 1577. It is said that before he painted, he was often found contemplating in a darkened room because the light of day disturbed access to his ‘inner light’.

El Greco’s inner light translated to an amazing transcendent quality in his paintings. For him, a devout Catholic, he no doubt understood this light as the spark of Divinity within his soul. And yet, ‘inner light’ has a much broader symbolism that transcends religion. It refers to the good within each of us, the seed of love and kindness and generosity that both connects us as humans and points to a good greater than ourselves. The real magic to inner light is that everyone has it, every single person.

As I stood at the foot of the massive, glowing canvas, I pondered my own inner light. How have the ‘darkened rooms’ of my life led to illumination? How have I shared my light, not as a painter but as a therapist and a writer and a singer? I long to be a more regular ambassador of my inner light, by beaming it through smiles and kindness and presence throughout my day. Many days I fail, but on other days I intentionally spread a little light and I watch as others meet me with their own.

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