art by Arlene Kim Suda

pay attention...

pay attention…

The Canonical Hours Project

MEDITATION ON A DAY


#TheCanonicalHoursProject

One of the driving forces behind this work was to create a secular version of the sacred tradition of reflecting in a rhythmic way over the course of a day. I had become aware of the power of doing this from W.H. Auden's poem, Horae Canonicae.

My hope with this series is that it will create a space where viewers can slow down and re-gain an awareness of the present moment to provide some relief from the stresses of a day.

Prime (6 am)


PRIME (6AM)


2014, acrylic on paper, 14 x 10-3/4 inches

For me this work is an awakening and emergence of the mind and body into the world and into a new day.


“Without a name or history I wake
Between my body and the day”



Terce (9 am)

TERCE (9AM)


2014, acrylic on paper, 14 x 10-3/4 inches

By 9 am, for many of us, our social day is just starting. What possibilities and consequences, joys and sorrows lie ahead of us as we enter into our various roles in life?


“Let me get through this coming day...
At this hour we all might be anyone...”



Sext (12 pm)

SEXT (12PM)


2014, acrylic on paper, 14 x 10-3/4 inches

By noon, we can get lost in our profession or to the “social beast” of the crowds we belong to. How do we maintain a sense of individuality in times when it is easy to get caught up in the energy of the people surrounding us?


“The crowd sees only one thing
(which only the crowd can see)
an epiphany of that
which does whatever is done”



Nones (3 pm)

NONES (3PM)


2014, acrylic on paper, 14 x 10-3/4 inches

Nature is a passive spectator to our destructive nature. We can be indifferent to the sorrows we cause yet often have little choice but to return to our routines. How do we remain in a state of grace even when we make mistakes?


“Mid-afternoon, yet the blood
of our sacrafice is already
Dry on the grass;
we are not prepared
For silence so sudden so soon”



Vespers (6 pm)

VESPERS (6PM)


2014, acrylic on paper, 14 x 10-3/4 inches

We all live with contradictions in our lives. Can we recognize our dualities and accept they are part of what makes each of us strong and beautiful with potential to grow?


“For Sun and Moon supply their
conforming masks, but in this
hour of civil twilight all must
wear their own faces, And it is
now that our two paths cross”



Compline (9 pm)

COMPLINE (9PM)


2014, acrylic on paper, 14 x 10-3/4 inches

As we fall asleep, our body escapes from consciousness giving us momentary relief from our desires and suffering. This feels like a time for peaceful moments of personal forgiveness and healing in our lives.


“I cannot remember
A thing between noon and three
Nothing is with me now but a sound
A heart’s rhythm, a sense of stars”



Matins (12 am)


MATINS (12AM)


2015, acrylic on paper, 14 x 10-3/4 inches

No poem was written for this hour. To me this work is about silence and mystery and a deep knowing that everything begins in darkness. Are we willing to surrender to the darkness and unknown in order to grow?



Lauds (3 am)

LAUDS (3AM)


2014, acrylic on paper, 14 x 10-3/4 inches

At this hour, we are free of our thinking selves and as close to our natural selves as we can get. This poem feels like a celebration of the gift of being -- that we are loved by the universe despite our imperfect nature. Alone and together, cycles and integration.


“Among the leaves the small birds sing;
The crow of the cock commands awaking:
In solitude, for company”



Poem Map

POEM MAP


2014, pencil on paper, 14 x 10-3/4 inches

These are notes I took while reading Auden's poem with an emphasis on the words that inspired the series. I feel grateful that Auden gives us a fresh way to reflect on the intensity and beauty of the story of Christ's Passion outside the confines of an institution and church.