One day in the spring of 2005, several months before my friend Matt Lyon died, I sat by him at a Quaker Meeting potluck. I’d been looking forward to talking to him for a long time, since he felt fantastic from across the worship room, and I’d heard he was an artist. Sure enough, we shared a rich conversation, and I still remember how he glowed with energy and joy talking about the places where his art and spirituality meet. I was thrilled, not only to find a kindred spirit, but to be listening to what Matt loved– sensing God loving life through Matt’s eyes and heart and prayers and art. Since then, Matt’s art and life have inspired my own.
Matt’s sudden death in a motorcycle accident broke a thousand hearts. When I walked into his memorial service at Oregon Episcopal School, his open-chested sculpture on the altar took my breath. When I learned that his students had completed the work with butterflies, it completely captured my imagination. In fact, I’ve lived with this image ever since, and the truth it represents about transformation, the release of Matt’s spirit into the world in a new way since his death, and our own call to nurture and share the miraculous in our souls. Matt lived so deeply in the understanding of giving and ultimate truth, that when the time came, he literally laid down his motorcycle and saved the life of the driver of the oncoming car in the accident. To my heart, this embodies the spiritual teachings Matt faithfully followed.
Matt Lyon remains one of our great teachers.
I was honored to contribute the Opening painting to “Seeking Spirit,” the first Oregon Episcopal School invitational exhibit in 2006, in celebration of the life and work of Matt Lyon. I gratefully give witness to his story and our deep gratitude for his life.