10/03/2013 18:25 GMT | Updated 10/05/2013 06:12 BST

A Glimpse of Paradise


Ana's Thought: "Art awakens the soul to the beauty of the Universe."

When we unweave the braided fabric of history, our hands fill with the shimmering threads of experience that bind our past to our present. Any belief or practice we consider familiar was once a burst of insight in the mind of another. And so brilliance is born and reborn with each new day, a sun that rises with promise after each sunset.

Art trains our eyes to look beyond shapes and the names we have given them, blessing us with a shared universal language. Along with nature, it provides humanity with a timeless definition of beauty. When we call to mind the most magnificent night sky, many would likely envision Van Gogh's "Starry Night." Our memories of gorgeous flowers are filled with Monet's soft sprawl and O'Keeffe's exquisite studies. These pieces remain with us, housed in the private museums of our hearts, as the truest teachers of beauty we have.

The masters of art share their personal concepts of beauty in each scene they build on canvas, inviting us to make them our own. What art lover has not felt at home in the marvelous parties and countryside vistas of Renoir, or wished to travel to the tranquil seaside moments that Cassatt captured? We carry these soothing scenes with us in our lives, marrying them to our own experiences and giving them even deeper meaning.

Poussin and Gaugin took this viewer immersion even further, wrapping real places in myth: not only were their works representations of their own worlds, they were the artists' distinct interpretation of the Greek pastoral paradise of Arcadia. Art is the lens through which we see our surroundings for not only what they are, but for what they could be, granting us sight beyond vision.

Artists and writers are charged with the heavy but delicate responsibility of building the foundations upon which the dreams of the world take shape: writers give us words to describe our visions and artists give us pictures to make them tangible. These dreams - and, in turn, the art that inspires them - provide the soul with solace and sanctuary. They inspire hope within us, reminding us that there is more to living than the sufferings of our days, and more to the world than what we see around us. Even when all seems dark, we preserve this beauty in our minds, where it will always remain untarnished. In doing so, we create our own bright Paradise, invincible to the ravages of time - a shelter we go to in Life's storms.