March 23, 2005
I read something today that really spoke because it resonated so closely to what I understood as an artist. I was reading "Seven Days of Faith" by Paul Stevens* and a chapter about hospitality caught me eye. It was in a section entitled "Creative Relations". It was essentially using the creative processes of an artist to describe the art of hospitality.
For me, I've always strugged at what it was that made artistic expression so important in my own worship. I would much rather play the piano in worship than sing. It's not that I don't like singing... in fact, the very opposite is true. But God has not gifted me with vocal chords that can express what I hear inside me. There is music in me fighting to get out, to be given in expression, and what comes out of my mouth does not match what I hear in my head. There is such a lack of satisfaction, because that "something" inside is still trapped in there without a voice.
But when I sit at the piano, something is different. Somehow everything I sense inside -- the music, the passion, the worship -- has a mode of expression that is accurate and satisfying. It gets out, actualized in some mode of expression, and turn into blessing.
When someone is hospitable, they are essentially providing a platform for a similar artistic process to occur. The stranger invited into an hospitable environment means that he is not required to trap himself and hold back any expression of his true self for fear that he may not be accepted. Rather, in freedom, he can bring his whole being into view and express himself as he really is. And in keeping with the same kind of satisfaction that I feel as an artist when my art communicates accurately what I could not put into words, so the stranger can be at rest and at peace knowing that what is seen on the outside matches exactly what is there on the inside.
*Stevens, R. Paul. Seven Days of Faith: Every Day Alive With God . Colorado Springs: NavPress Publishing Group, 2001.
March 21, 2005
I thought that when I went to Hawaii, I would enjoy just "bumming aroundon the beach" and doing nothing. But do you know how hard it is to do? You have to pack your knapsack, make sure you have enough money for meals and other items, make sure your batteries are strong for your discman, and make sure you have safely packed 2 or 3 CD options. Then there's your beach towel, your sunscreen (don't get me started on REMEMBERING to put on the sunscreen and turning every so often under the sun!). Next thing you know, you are dragging along this heavy bag of "stuff" just so you can relax! No one told me that doing "nothing" took so much work!!
Living the simple life is definitely not a simple thing to do these days. Every technology is made to make life more comfortable. But no one told us that to live comfortably, life would get so cluttered with gadgets and possessions.
A part of it is a minimalist view of life. Instead of having the veggie slicer that can cut even slices, or jullienne, or minced, we simply have to learn to do it all with one knife. It's more work, but it's simple. When we sit down in the evening, we have to learn to be content with reading the same book for three or four days, rather than making sure we have an array of activities to choose from at any given point. When we get up in the morning, rather than having 20 outfits to choose from, we simply rotate between 3 or 4 during the week and leave the decision of what to wear to picking what's left on the hangers before it goes to the hamper.
However, the "living simply" part is so much more. The one who is honing down to the simple must make choices about what conveniences (s)he is willing to give up. But in the end, to truly appreciate the simplicity of life, these things should not be seen as sacrifices but as distractions. Those who learn to live simply enjoy the laughter of people, are taken aback by small sins, and learn to revel in the discovery of some new truth.
And the greatest discovery about the simple life is that you discover people -- even yourself -- and discover what it was that you were escaping from all this time.
March 11, 2005
I took out a lump sum of money from the bank only 3 days ago for my weekly spending money. I looked in my wallet and saw only a 1/4 of it left today. "Where did it all go?" And I had to start thinking back to what I had done for the past 3 days that could have possibly put this hole in my wallet. What did I eat? What did I do? Who was I with? And right away, I had to make assessments of my spending. Was it worth the amount that I used?
It got me to thinking. Here I am, having just turned 37 years old. I'm quite possibly almost at the halfway point in my life, God-granting. And I had to take stock. What have I done so far? Who have I done it with? And then the inevitable question: "Was it all worthwhile?"
Surely, not everything can be deemed worthwhile. Who of us really can say that every moment 0f our life has not gone to waste? The countless hours of vegging in front of the TV. The driving time to get from one place to another. The endless rabbit trails that we chase while surfing the net.
You see, I don't think anything's a waste. My life at this very moment, at this very second that I am typing this reflection, is made up of every moment that preceded it. There is no "now" without the past. And in God, there is no "now" worth living for without His certain future. I've made horrible mistakes in my life -- momentary foolishnesses that I am paying for to this day. But I think I can confidently say that there are enough good turns in my journey to balance them out. And in the end, I can only rely on forgiveness for the former, revel in the blessing of the latter, and hope that I will make more good decisions than bad from this point on.
And when it's all said and done, perhaps my puny brain will finally comprehend that it was not my life to possess, but to spend.
(note: find out how to spell "puny"... peuny? pieuny? oh brother...)