By Ken Whitt
We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough.— C.S. Lewis
We want something else that can hardly be put into words—
To be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it,
To receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it,
To become part of it.
Am I an artist?
A couple of weeks ago, a Tuesday morning, sitting on my porch–it was a beautiful day. However, I was deep into grief, at so many levels that I’d stop trying to keep[ track of them; and I’d kept trying to avoid them all.
Such an effort is exhausting. I was exhausted. De-energized. I had barely dragged myself into the day and had pressed myself into prayer. Finally, striving to remember God’s love and the safety I feel when I connect with God, I began to weep. Gut-wrenching tears, knots of sadness untied broke forth as groans.
Various layers of grief caught my attention, one after the other. All I had to do was silently cry out, “I miss you!” Grief took over again. Each grief evoked its unique expression, yet each also led me deeper and deeper into God’s embrace; until I was spent and began to just rest.
“Come on to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Eyes closed. Stomach tension gone. Breathing softly. Resting.
Suddenly, I realized that from within the inner quiet I was seeing images. New patterns, new combinations of color and design, new projects waiting for me to see if they could be created in my wood-working shop. “I’ve never done that before. Is that even possible? How could I know? Unless I tried.”
As a direct result of what I saw as I rested, only after I had grieved. I found myself being magnetically drawn into my workshop at every opportunity. I began playing with new ideas, staring long and hard at the various woods that are found on dozens of shelves and smaller pieces in a plethora of boxes.
What do you think? Am I an artist? And if I am, why am I? What is the good of this calling to creativity?
Apparently, it is healing! Creativity can be birthed in suffering, because suffering sees reality through God’s eyes. Possibilities of beauty are hidden when we hide from the shadows. Beauty, as Brian Zahnd says in the title of a book, Beauty Will Save the World.
How could that possibly work? Well, for one thing, creating beauty and seeing beauty may cause us to fall in love with the creation. Can falling in love with the creation compel us to stop destroying it? Can falling in love with the creation, spending time creating, draw forth every last ounce of beauty from the creation, compelling us to at last grieve what we have so carelessly and greedily done?