Pablo Picasso once said, “Art washes away from the soul, the dust of everyday life.” It’s a quote whose beauty rivals any of Picasso’s famous works and its meaning speaks truth to anyone who has felt the pleasure of artistic creation. It’s a quote that is lived every day by seventy-two year old, Gloria Woodley. A lifelong lover of the arts, Mrs. Woodley often spends her time with a brush and palette in hand; transforming blank canvases into expressions of color and technique.
A resident of The Bridge at South Pittsburg, Gloria has never had to search for the muse to paint. In fact, she has more reason to paint now than ever, since her passion serves both as pleasure and as a tool of rehabilitation, helping to enhance and preserve her motor function and hand-eye coordination. It would be easy to assume that Mrs. Woodley’s artistic journey would end there but that is the funny thing about a muse, one never knows when or how it will take form.
In the case of Gloria, her muse descended in a new and unexpected way. It came down the hall, announced by the harmony of six strings and took the form of her facility’s Chaplain, Ronnie Case. A long time employee of Signature HealthCARE, The Bridge at South Pittsburg’s Chaplain has long been known for his musical talent and his troubadour-esque journeys through his building’s hallways. Mr. Case brings the joy of music and his message into the lives of everyone he encounters.
It was far from the first time that Ronnie had come to visit Gloria and even farther from the first time he had performed hymnals for her entertainment; but this time their meeting was different. Music and celebration soon gave way to conversations about art, life, passion and opportunities thought missed.
The depth of their discussion led Mrs. Woodley to approach Ronnie about guiding her on a new journey of artistic expression; one where brushes and paint would give way to strings and wood.
“This is not the first time I have thought about learning to play but this is the first time that things have come together to make it happen,” said Gloria when approached about her new hobby, “Right now we are learning keys. I can’t wait until I finally learn how to play ‘I’ll Fly Away.’”
The smile on her face and the excitement bursting in her eyes is enough to see that her new endeavor is yielding good fruit but is not only Gloria that is benefiting. “I get such a blessing from doing this,” said Ronnie Case, “Music gives people purpose and a fresh perspective on the world around them. I have been playing for over fifty years and I still play every day. It’s an amazing feeling to get to share this with others in a new way.”
It doesn’t end there either. Ronnie and the staff at The Bridge have already begun a Quality of Life Initiative that will bring together all of the musically inclined and interested residents at their facility to learn to play and perform with new instruments. So far there have been residents express interests in the guitar, harmonica and the piano.
It may not be long before you hear originally composed music flowing down the halls of The Bridge at South Pittsburg or perhaps just a moving cover of “Amazing Grace.” Regardless, you can be assured that there will be lives changed and souls lifted through a program that came about when the sound of music brought together two new friends.
“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” – Plato.
– By John Mount & Renee Taylor