Monday, December 24, 2012

The Christmas Experience

I usually write a blog or feel inspired to write a blog after a theological or artistic discussion with my should meet her, she is quite brilliant. We were talking about Christmas. It is Christmas Eve morning and we were discussing the experience that is Christmas.

When I think of Christmas, I absolutely think of the theological and intellectual and even emotional concept of love coming down to be among men. The "Jesus being born" aspect of Christmas (of course, the most important aspect) definitely resonates within me and mesmerizes me and shocks me and a million other adjectives seem to come to mind when describing the event of the first Christmas. Even the word Christmas or Christ's Mass, is a theological amazement to me, given my early  Catholic upbringing.

But, if I really think about it, Christmas encompasses so much more than a theological concept, as it should. It reminds me of family, of wonderment, of cold, brisk air, of peace on earth and goodwill to men, of some of my favorite songs that only appear this time of year, of great classic movies, of pretty lights, of Edaville Railroad (a Christmas-y theme park in Carver, MA), of Christmas caroling on a horse pulled sleigh, of mulled cider, of eggnog, of succulent turkey, of every type of desert, of peppermint, cinnamon, logs on the fire,....the list goes on and on and on.

Christmas truly is a physical, emotional, intellectual feast. I would imagine that when most people  think of Christmas, they have positive thoughts on the subject. Some do not, probably. Those who lost loved ones at the holidays, those who are to tied to political and atheistic agendas, and those who are from a culture where it isn't as prevalent, might not. But most people probably do.

But why? Why does every child long for the Christmas season? Why do parents delight in giving gifts, Why did Santa get invented? Why all of the pomp and circumstance for a little more goodwill toward each other, some holiday get together with family and gift giving? Why do people like Christmas?

I think it might be because for the first time since the Garden of Eden, Christmas represented God walking among all of men. God's presence was physically among us. It wasn't just his Holy Spirit within us. It was Christ AMONG us. And we are just responding to Him that brings us comfort and Joy and Peace on Earth and Goodwill toward men and...Love.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Sanctification of our work

Sacrifice is at the heart of love. Artists sacrifice a lot for their art. However, I am not sure if we sacrifice all that is needed to produce great and holy and complete art. There is a list of ways that artists suffer and sacrifice for their art...many of these ways being unhealthy.

However, we, as redeemed creatures through the blood of Christ, must still realize that our work needs daily sanctification as do we. True sacrifice and sanctification is received by dying daily, even hour by hour and minute by minute, to oneself. We must die to ourselves to begin to live. And so must our art. To make great art our work must die before it can truly live. For it to speak for us to get to the heart of the matter of the piece, we must let it go to God. We must sacrifice it and see what is truly borne out of this release. Once the piece has been released, then can it truly be free; once the piece has died, then can it truly live; once the piece has been sacrificed to God, then can it be resurrected.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My Favorite Towns Part 2

I am so inspired by these towns...or maybe I am just nostalgic. Either way, here are some gems of towns that I find particularly interesting.


This wonderfully historic town is the first town on my new list. It is a river front town that boasts one of the great battles of the Revolutionary war (and civil war, funny enough). Quaint downtown, beautiful beaches and a lovely historic park makes this an excellent visit. It is also part of the historic triangle of Williamsburg, Yorktown and Jamestown, Virginia.


Boca is a wealthy, fun and beautiful ocean-front town. It boasts canals, sandy beaches, extravagant houses and hotels and a fantastic mall. It is also close to Fort Lauderdale and Miami. I wouldn't miss a visit to Boca.


Frankenmuth is a fantastic town. You are driving through the pastures and farmland of Michigan and all of a sudden you find yourself in a Bavarian village. It has amazing hotels, great food (German food to boot) Mackinac Island fudge, places to play, covered bridges, and the Bronner's...the worlds largest Christmas store that has an exact replica of the church used in the penning of the song Silent Night and has a motto that they keep the Christ in Christmas as a CHRISTmas store.


I love Michigan City. You can walk out to the end of the famous Michigan City Lighthouse. It has some great restaurants, beautiful beaches along Lake Michigan, outlet malls, a casino that is a floating barge, a nuclear power plant and many other strange reasons to visit. Most people would not want this town on their list, but I think it is a blast of a place to spend a summer afternoon/early evening and be sure to catch the sunset on Lake Michigan.


North Conway is a gem on the outskirts of the White Mountains. It is down the street from Mount Washington and Story Land (A fantasy amusement park). It is an amazing New Hampshire winter wonderland. It has quaint stores, good food, river rafting and canoeing, hiking, skiing and beautiful bed and breakfasts and Inns. A great romantic getaway.


Cool, chic, posh, eclectic, ritzy. These are the words that remind me of West Hartford. The capital region is a beautiful part of Connecticut and I love everywhere around the Greater Hartford Area, but West Hartford and specifically West Hartford Center is a great place to visit. Great food, great shops, close to Boston and New York, down the road from mansions, mountains, rivers, cities, farmlands, Universities and everything else.


Summer homes owned by the Vanderbilts, Astors, and Biltmore's among others. Newport is rich with old money, opulence, New England fishing village charm, and a host of other activities that make this a top tourist destination. I would visit the mansions, have lunch and shopping down by the wharf, visit Fort Adams State Park and the other state park on the Southwest corner of Newport and finish it with a drive down Ocean Drive, one of the richest roads in the country.


A very small and quaint village in Northern Indiana Amish Country. Nappanee is special to me because I spent so much time working at the Round Barn Theatre (pictured above). It is a beautiful little town with specialty shops, a couple nice places to eat, Amish Acres Amish Historical site, Musical Theatre at the Round Barn, and it is close to a host of other beautiful northern Indiana towns.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My Favorite Towns

This is a departure from the usual but in some ways, it goes along with my last post about the importance of nature to nurture the artist. This is a list of my favorite towns across the country. Funny enough, I have been less places than I would want to admit, still, these towns provide a great deal of inspiration, rest, beauty, fun, memories and all of the other good things that a favorite place provides.

Here they are, in no particular order:

Cooperstown, NY.

Many people flock here for reasons baseball and the Baseball Hall of Fame, but I think it is one of the most beautiful, quaint, and fun towns that I have been to! The picture above is a view from the back balcony of the Otesaga resort overlooking the beautiful Lake Otsego. This area was made famous by James Fenimore Cooper's (hence the name "coopers"town) Last of the Mohicans.

Plymouth, MA.

A stunning seaport town and my old stomping ground. I grew up ten minutes from the waterfront. It is home to the first permanent settlement in North America, the 1620 Scrooby England Pilgrims. There is a beautiful replica of the Mayflower in the harbor and you can still see the original Plymouth Rock right near the Mayflower.

Genoa, NV.

There is no way to explain this area. It is twenty minutes from Lake Tahoe in the Carson Valley and has spectacular views of the Sierra Nevada's. Being from the East Coast I had never seen an area like this, absolutely stunning, both day and night. Genoa is also the first settled town in all of Nevada and the area where my wife grew up.

Williamsburg, VA.

Williamsburg has done the best job of integrating the colonial, living history museum that is Colonial Williamsburg into the town of Williamsburg proper. It is seamless and beautiful. Lush english gardens abound, people dressed in colonial garb, William and Mary college, stores like the toymaker and the Cheese Shop make this place a fairytale come to life. It also has a fantastic downtown with one of two Yankee Candle flagship stores and plenty of restaurants, including a favorite of Jennifer and mine, a restaurant called  "Food for Thought."

East Haddam, CT.

Located on the side of the Connecticut River and about forty minutes from Hartford, East Haddam is a perfect 10 out of 10 in beauty, elegance and quaint-ness. It boasts Gillette Castle, home to William Gillette who was famous for playing the character, Sherlock Holmes around the U.S. It also houses the Goodspeed Opera House, one of the best professional Musical Theatres in the country (seen above).

Franconia Notch, NH.

Franconia Notch is not exactly a town but it is a location. It was home to the state symbol of New Hampshire...The Old Man on the Mountain, a granite profile of a face that tooled like an old man looking south. Unfortunately the profile fell in 2003 after a bad thunderstorm, but you can still see where it was. Regardless, Franconia the town and Franconia Notch are known for their unparallelled natural beauty, hiking, skiing, boating, fishing, swimming and probably one of the best prayer spots I have ever been to in my life. It is pure beauty as far as the eye can see.

Sleepy Hollow, NY.

Sleepy Hollow is one of my favorite towns to visit around Halloween. It is the sight of Washington Irvings classic tale, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow". The old dutch church above is featured in the tale and some of you might recognize it from the Disney short Ichabod Crane. It is a lovely sleepy little village on the side of the Hudson River. Some nice places to eat and at Halloween, all sorts of activities. You can even go into the cemetery behind the Old Dutch Church and see where Ichabod Crane, Braham Bones, KAtrina and Baltus Van Tassel and The Headless Horseman himself...yes the Headless Horseman was a real person!!!

South Bend, IN

Home to the University of Notre Dame and the Fightin' Irish, South bend is one of the few cities I have on this list. It is a fun city with the University in the center of it all. You can visit the South Bend Chocolate Company, Kayak on the East Race Waterway, drive twenty minutes to Northern Indiana Amish country, visit the Studebaker museum, or enjoy a steak and guiness stew and take in a session at the Fiddler's Hearth...a local Irish Pub. A FANTASTIC place.

Marshall, MI

I have added a picture of the Marshall, MI that I know well but it isn't the most indicative picture of the town. However, the fall colors in Marshall are some of the best in the world...and I am a New Englander, I think that is saying something. The fountain in the center of town, Win Schulers restaurant, the Honolulu house, the Museum of Magic and the riverwalk are many reasons that this town is one you don't want to miss...and try to visit in the autumn!

Southwest Harbor, ME

A perfect Maine Fishing village and harbor, replete with the Deck House, a restaurant where the waitstaff performs numbers from your favorite Broadway shows. This town is on Mt. Desert Island, the same where Bar Harbor is located. Down the street is the beautiful echo lake and Somes Sound...the only official fjord in the northeast.

South Lake Tahoe, CA

Funny enough, many from this area believe that South Lake Tahoe is their least favorite part of the beautiful alpine lake. It boasts some large casinos, resorts, restaurants, and lots of shopping. But the views are spectacular. Any part of this lake is a must see...especially Sand Harbor State Park and Emerald Bay.

Stockbridge, MA

The town that Norman Rockwell called home for many years and the downtown that Rockwell made famous in his painting "Main Street at Christmas" which is being reenacted in the picture above. This is another example of the perfect New England town in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. It is also the home of the famous landmark attributed to the song, "Alice's Restaurant."

Hershey, PA

What's not to love about the town that's number one export is chocolate? The streetlambs are Hershey's Kisses, one of the best theme parks in the world is housed here, one of the best high schools in the world was founded here by Milton Hershey and it is an all around beautiful and fun town with plenty of places to stay and things to do.

Reston, VA

Reston isn't exactly a small town as much as it is a suburb of Washington DC. It is a beautiful area with both rolling fields, hills and forests as well as a busy town center area with fall and winter Ice Skating rink. It is a beautiful town with many eateries, shopping and it is a quick drive to Tyson's Corner or downtown DC.

Woodstock, VT

If I had to describe the perfect New England Village during the holidays, it would be Woodstock VT. It has three or four covered bridges, creeks and rivers running through it, an old curiosity shoppe, among many other New England Holiday favorites. Quaint and beautiful.   

Princeton, NJ

A GREAT college town. It has charm and is a vibrant community. Between Princeton college, the college of William and Mary and University of Notre Dame, I believe there is a tie for most beautiful colleges.

Lynchburg VA

Home to the evangelical Liberty University, Lynchburg is a slice of heaven. It boasts a bustling downtown area and is minutes from some of the best sight seeing and hiking you will ever do. Lynchburg sits on the edge of the Blue ridge Mountains and is a great place to spend a few days.

Sandwich, MA

A pristine town, full of antique shops, great dining at places such as the Dan'l Webster Inn, The Painted Lady, The Beehive Tavern, and the British Beer Company. It has a great boardwalk out to the beach with an area on a bridge where kids can jump into the salt marsh river at high tide and is a beautiful historical part of the cape. Out of all of cape cod, Sandwich, I believe, is the best town. It's small, quaint, charming, and breathtakingly beautiful.

So that is my list as it stands for now, I have many other towns that I believe are fantastic, but those will have to wait until another post. For now, enjoy the beauty of these amazing towns and if you are in any of these areas, I would highly encourage you to visit these fantastic places!

The Need for Nature

I spent the better part of today driving through Dartmouth, Massachusetts in the Padanarum bay area where my grandparents used to live. What struck me most about the area was its pristine beauty. I love Southeastern Massachusetts and its colonial/seaside/cape coddy look. There are rolling fields with grey shingled colonial style houses, there is the lovely Padanarum bay with its grassy salt marshes and deep, blue skies dotted with white fluffy clouds, and there is the sandy-growing rose bushes that I have only ever seen in this area. All of this, along with the lovely fall air makes one breath a little deeper and easier as if the earth itself is telling you, "everything is going to be alright."

As an artist, I adore creating. I believe it is one of humanities greatest traits.We inherited this ability from our Father when, in Genesis 1:27 he said we were made in His image. When I stop to think where I get my inspiration for creating art, I really don't have to think very hard...from creation itself. After spending quality time in God's creation I feel refreshed, replenished, full of vigor, excited, rested, hopeful and ready to tackle almost anything that will come my way. Creation helps me create and I would bet it is the same for many artists. If we look throughout history, most of what we see in the visual arts (up until the last 50-100 years) are pastorals and religious paintings. The subject of many artists was faith and creation. But why? Why does creation speak so powerfully?

First, I believe that any work that is the handiwork of God speaks to all humans. Because, whether we believe in God or not, we are all still His children. I have never heard a person utter, "Well, THAT is a lousy looking sunset." I don't think we would have it in us to even suggest such a claim, because every person knows that a sunset is beautiful and the sunset is beautiful because God, Himself painted it.

Second, being creators ourselves, we are interested in creation. Creation fascinates us, we can't get enough of it. If it didn't fascinate us, camping would never have been invented, or hiking, or vacations to Lake Louise in Banff, or strolling through the Redwoods, or houses by the sea, or mountain lodges, or scenic overlooks on highways, and the list keeps on going. Humans put art in their houses, make artistic choices about their interior design, exterior design, landscaping and then the value of the house goes up when it is a waterfront home or in the mountains. Why is land so expensive...the more you want to get, the more its going to cost you. I guess you could argue that there are so many people, the more land you have, the less land the rest of us has, but we know that isn't true, at least in America. Much of the west is still untamed and there is PLENTY of space out there. Ultimately, it's because nature is valuable.

Third, being made in the image of the Great Creator, we value beauty. God made gold to admire and fruit in the Garden that was both good to eat AND beautiful to look at. Let's face it, God could have made a drab, utilitarian world and it would have worked just fine...but he didn't! God loves beauty and beauty is the visual form of love. He wants us to be pleased with what we see in this world AND he wants what we see to point back to Him. Beauty does just that. Beauty is indescribable except for that word that describes it...beautiful. We are so enamored because when we see something beautiful, our lives feel more completed by it. Love does the same thing. If there is one thing I believe it is that the heartbeat of the bible is that God loves us and he wants us to love Him back. Love takes many forms, and beauty, I believe, is one of those forms.

I have an issue with cities. I am both enamored with them and disgusted with them at the same time. I find it amazing that THAT many people can live relative one place. I am blown away by the marvels of architecture within cities. I am amazed how a city incorporates nature into its urban jungle. I love the buzz of a city at Christmas. I love Times Square and the lights of Broadway. But I also find cities to be a bit cold, that relative harmony I spoke of is just that...relative, many times it is people barely tolerating each other in order to keep civility. Cities are made of concrete and steel and plastic and glass. Not high on my beauty scale. Cities are so loud, you can't think. The light pollution drowns out the stars at night. After these two lists, you can see my conundrum.

I find artistry that comes out of the city to be a bit cynical as of late. Great art has come out of cities but more and more cynicism, propaganda, social agendas, and other modern topics are bleeding into art. I suppose there is no problem with this, somebody has to create it, but I am interested in art that is revelatory, transformative and redemptive. My favorite art touches the divine and strikes a deep chord in my soul. My favorite art deals with the big picture and not the moment-to-moment doesn't ignore those issues, it just frames them in the eternal.

What is amazing to me is that many of our fine artistic universities and establishments are found in cities. This shocks me a bit because as an artist and knowing a bit about artists, I am not sure how they draw their inspiration. I would assume one would draw inspiration from other artistic works, relationships and vacations to more serene and beautiful places. Many of the older actors I know don't live in NYC proper any more but have chosen to live in southern Connecticut or upstate New York and commute in and maybe that is because they have learned a little bit about artistry and the city versus nature. Perhaps the reason there is such a cynical feel to a lot of art is that people have locked themselves in a concrete cave and then tried to deal with things eternal which just end up turning into things that matter to and happen in the City proper.  Only God knows.

I believe that if artists spent more time in nature and less time in the subway, their art might look a bit different and their perspective on life might change. Don't get me wrong, many fine artists and fine art comes from the city...some of our best...I believe it must truly be God inspired because nature is hard to find in downtown NYC... unless you live near central park. Either way, I believe that spending time in nature is good for the soul of every human and good for the inspiration of every artist.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Gift of Tongues and the Gift of Art

First, I have to say that  this blog is almost entirely my wife's brainchild. Jennifer (my wife) and I had been to a charismatic-pentecostal service one day and, as you might imagine, there was much speaking in tongues. Before I get into it, I want to speak about my history with tongues. As a child, I was fairly horrified when I first saw tongues being spoken. My family an I were recent protestant converts from the Catholic church on the South Shore of Massachusetts and the gift of tongues was something that I never saw in the Catholic church growing up. One evening, I went to visit some friends at a pentecostal Christian youth camp and it was a baptism by fire. People were speaking in tongues, crying, screaming, rolling around on the ground and being slain in the spirit. As you can imagine, being from a modest Catholic was traumatic to say the least.

The major problem I had was that throughout all of that rolling and screaming, not once did I feel God's presence. Occasionally, I sense the presence of God heavily during a charismatic worship service where tongues are being spoken, other times, not. This had always bothered me because I felt that if the spirit of God was going to manifest himself in would be pretty powerful and you should sense his presence. You can imagine my confusion/frustration when I felt like God's presence seems to be absent from such a strong manifestation of His gifts.

Also, Many times I would be at services like this and people would be speaking and tongues and there wouldn't be an interpreter. This confused me because I thought that the three ways tongues normally happens in the bible is  1) That tongues of flames came over the disciples heads and gave them the ability to speak in a tongues that people of different languages could all understand at the same time as in the Pentecost, or 2) That the message spoken aloud in public through the medium of tongues would also have an interpreter that would interpret the tongues, or 3) That the heavenly language was one for the personal and private prayer time between the speaker and God, not for the public. Others may have different interpretations of the scripture, but this is how I understand the bible's perspective on it.

Now, I am a much more charismatic Christian in these days than I ever was in the past. The gifts of the spirit don't bother me like they used to, in fact, I am amazed by them. But tongues had always been difficult for me and during this car ride home from the service I was previously mentioning, Jennifer gave me an amazing perspective I had never thought of before.

Jennifer said that dance was her gift of tongues. I looked at her with a mildly confused expression on my face. She went on to explain that she felt closest to God when she was dancing and that she believed dance was her heavenly language that she spoke with God.

To me, this statement was revelatory

 It makes perfect sense... to me, at least. I have always felt that when I was writing songs, God had blessed me with connection to him. Something about the flow between chord and lyric, between story and the music that underlies the story always made me feel like I was connecting to something spiritual. As a matter of fact, I would argue that many if not most artists feel this way about art, that it IS spiritual. Could it be that the gift of art is a gift of tongues?

Lets look at the three qualifications of tongues that I mentioned before starting with the third and working backwards.  3) That the heavenly language was one for the personal and private prayer time between the speaker and God, not for the public.Tongues is supposed to be a "heavenly language" that one uses to communicate with God when our language isn't enough. Art absolutely does this. I believe that art is a form of "language" and one that can speak far more powerfully and clearly than the English that I speak. Most aestheticians and artists talk of art as language, it is core to their explanation of what art is and what it does. Also, I have experienced a communion with God on the spiritual level while doing every art I do - song writitng, acting, directing, choreographing, painting, etc. So art absolutely fits this category.

2) That the message spoken aloud in public through the medium of tongues would also have an interpreter that would interpret the tongues. Interestingly enough, art fulfills this as well. Almost everyone in the public who perceives an art work will interpret it. Add to that the many heads of churches, museum curators, artistic directors, art teachers, critics and the like that will interpret the artwork for the audience. The art can be interpreted personally by each member of society and publicly by people who have been set aside to critique or review the art form.

Last and the most outrageous and miraculous form of tongues was at the Pentecost. This was the Holy Spirit moving in an amazing way in a way that I haven't ever seen since I have been alive...or had I? 1) That tongues of flames came over the disciples heads and gave them the ability to speak in a tongues that people of different languages could all understand at the same time as in the Pentecost. I must admit that I have never seen tongues of flames over anyone's head to date, but the idea that one would speak a heavenly language that all cultures and societies across the globe could understand at once IS actually possible with art. As a matter of fact in his book Art in Action Nicholas Woltersdorff cites a cross cultural study that was done in the arts. In this study, random people were selected from all over the globe and they were to look at one hundred pieces of art. The study then had them commit to which pieces they liked and which they didn't. All of the participants chose seventy five percent of the same art works as being the pieces they personally enjoyed. The implications of this study go further than the commentary in this blog but it does point out that over seventy five percent of a grouping of artworks spoke personally to a cross cultural group. This is astounding! To me, this is strong evidence that art is a language that all cultures can potentially understand.

So I believe that my wife was right without a doubt, but I find it more amazing that art fulfills all three of the ways the gift of tongues manifests AT THE SAME TIME! I am not discounting anyone's heavenly language. I do believe that tongues works in the way we often see it happen. It is so unusual, God must love it, because our God is a God of mystery and wonder and miracle. But this theory of art as the gift of tongues is certainly one worth pondering.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Fearless Artist

Artists are some of the most fearless people I know. They push on through constant rejection, through financial burdens greater than they can deal with, through the incessant noise of the 21rst century, through millions of other artists who are also trying to make a mark, and through a variety of other difficulties and dangers that the average human couldn't take for a moment, never mind a lifetime.

We are told that "perfect love casts out fear" (1 John 4:18) and so I immediately think that perhaps it is love that drives the artist to cope with the fears that being an artist puts forward. Along with being fearless, artists are often the most empathetic people I know, they are also incredibly emotional, they long to be known by others, they long to see the disenfranchised of humanity get their shot, they are...loving. Artists have hearts as big as the sky and as deep as the ocean and they long to share themselves with others.

I believe what sits in the crux of true love and overcoming fear is a word that Christians are well-familiar with and that is sacrifice. Sacrifice is perhaps the greatest act of love a person can partake in. Sacrifice is what artists do everyday as they overcome their fears in order that they may make sense out of their world NOT just for themselves, in fact NOT mostly for themselves BUT for others. Artists need an audience because without that audience the art may cease to exist. Artists will push beyond the comfortable to get a taste of what true community is like. They will sacrifice their time, skills, resources, egos, hopes, dreams, etc. for the sake of connecting. The act of creating a true and holy work of art is one of pain, rejection, trial and error, endurance, skill, endless hours, and the list keeps going. The artist sacrifices so that they can be known by others and others can be known to them and they try, desperately to help humankind understand who we are and why we are here.

This constant sacrifice is literally and figuratively dying to oneself so that one truly may live. This is the essence of the Christian walk and artists do this daily. The artist becomes the best they can be when an audience has shared a moment with the artists work. Here is a story:

My wife Jennifer was laboring over a production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel. I was choreographing the piece and I can assure you that labor is the correct word to use when describing this production. Many hours and dollars were spent putting this piece together. The actors worked tirelessly to craft a powerful performance and most audience members who saw the show...liked it, or at least were amused by the production. We, as theatre artists, are certainly happy when we entertain people, after all, maybe we can give the audience a break from their everyday life and invite them into a fantasy world in which they might relax and dream for a couple of hours. We love doing that, but with all that work, we certainly hope someone will perceive us as a bit more than a trifle or and entertainment. Well, after one evenings production a man came up to Jennifer with tears streaming from his eyes and he said that he and his wife saw the original production in New York City and it was one of their favorite musicals. He went on to say that she had recently passed away and this evening was such a blessing for him because the play had come to mean so much to their relationship. He thanked her and left the building.

This is an example of hours of sacrifice by multiple artists which coalesced into a shared moment of beauty. A moment of divine communion, a moment of love.

Thank goodness we have artists and may God encourage them all to sacrifice for their calling, to continue to be fearless, to passionately pursue communion, to show us all how to love.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Creation - Communion - Renewal

Creation isn't just the process of making something, though this is how many perceive creation. Creation is the process of making something new, it's as much about rebirth as it is about birth. The bible gives us the best examples of creation.

"In the beginning, God created..." (Genesis 1:1) God wasn't just making something that didn't exist before, but he was in fact changing the nature of what already existed. He did make something out of nothing, as in the big bang, but at the same time He already existed in the nothingness and thus He changed the nature of His own existence. He went from one being to the one being over many. He  created an isolated existence to a world that was made for relationship. He made more than something out of nothing, He made somethings out of nothing.

This speaks to us about the nature of creation. Creation isn't just making something out of what wasn't there before but it is changing the nature of what already exists and in the change, communion happens...relationship is born.

 2 Corinthians 5:17 says - "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" This means that relationship and creation is one and the same, when one happens the other is born as well. When we come into a relationship with Jesus, we are made new, we are both re-created and created at the same time.

This is true of great art as well. When we give birth to a piece we are fostering community. This happens in a couple of ways: 1) Art connects us to our creator. It defines who we are in relationship with the natural AND the supernatural world. Our need to create is also the impulse to find our true identity and purpose. As we search by creating, are we not searching for meaning?  Everyone who is alive resonates with this, whether they believe in a higher power or not...the need to create is a cry out into the darkness for understanding, it is a call that demands an answer, it is a scream to try to fill the void with something.

2) Art connects us to each other. When we create we usually don't do it in a vacuum and even if we do...our hope is that someone else may, someday, see our work. Our creative impulse asks the simple question, " does anyone else understand what I have been through?" We HOPE someone will answer..."Yes. I know what you have been through and I have been there too." Why? Why do we need someone to answer us? Because we want to know we aren't alone. At the end of the day most people don't want to be alone. That is why we have fears.  We fear because we feel alone. We fear death because we fear we will be ripped from this life, away from those we love, or even just...those, and thrust into a place without anyone too commune with.

3) Art connects us to ourselves. We, in fact, need to commune with ourselves. Part of our search is to "know thyself" We want to know why we are the way we are and why we do what we do. Art helps us see that. A piece of art isn't just for someone else to see it, it isn't just about trying to discover the divine in the humane, but it is also an attempt to find ourselves. This searching for ourselves is so that we may be enlightened, that we may be changed. In fact this search for ourselves is to make us new.

The creation process renews us and changes us. When we create we are connecting to the spirit behind creation, we are calling others to see and know us AND to renew their perspective on life and we are renewing ourselves. The process of creation is one blessed by the divine for renewal of thought, mind and body,  it is to foster community between the Children of God and their creator, and it is to bring us into relationship with our God.