Faith.

Ok, so back to finding cosmos in chaos. What does it take? How do we do it? I don't think we do anything. And at the same time? We have to be doing something all the time. I know it sounds like I'm contradicting myself and I'm hoping I can explain this so it makes sense.

In terms of doing as in the "correct action to take"? I don't think there is one. This is art and creativity. There are a million actions you can take that are all just as good as the next. But when I said we have to be doing something all the time? I mean we have to be aware. We have to retain that imagination and creativity that can only exist if we are open to our feelings and our impulse to create instead of trying to make something because it's the latest style or to get something sold or because it'll be "good Christian art."

I think that takes faith. And though we, as Believers, throw around the word faith quite a bit I think we pretend to know more about it than we really do and we pretend to be much better at it than we sometimes are. I think sometimes we confuse faith with understanding. The end of chapter one of Walking on Water talks about this confusion.

And how could one young, untried girl contain within her womb the power which created the galaxies? and she goes on to say If it can be verified, we don't need faith.

I don't need faith to know that if a poem has fourteen lines, a specific rhyme scheme, and is in iambic pentameter, it is a sonnet; it may not be a good sonnet, but it will be a sonnet...Faith is what lies on the other side of reason. Faith is what makes life bearable with all it's tragedies and abiguities and sudden, startling joys.
Personally, I think the difference between faith and understanding is this: understanding is knowing. Faith is believing. You can't know something without cold hard facts. But you can believe anything. We don't have to understand or know anything to have faith. I believe in the Trinity of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. But I have no clue how that's possible to be three in one. I don't know how that works or how it looks. But I have that feeling down deep inside that tells me it's true.

Madeleine L'Engle goes on to write more in chapter one about faith:

Mary did not always understand. But one does not have to understand to be obedient. Instead of understanding -- that intellectual understanding which we are so fond of -- there is a feeling of rightness, of knowing, knowing things which we are not yet able to understand.

A young woman said to me... "I read A Wrinkle in Time when I was eight or nine. I didn't understand it, but I knew what it was about."

As long as we know what it's about, then we can have the courage to go wherever we are asked to go...
So far this post has sounded a lot more like a lesson on faith and not much on art. But I really think faith plays a huge role in art. But not necessarily in the way we might think. We might start thinking that, for a Christian, to create Christian art means that person should have God on their minds specifically when they start their project. After all, we are Christians and we're trying to glorify God. We're not those heathens that don't know any better (I don't really think non-Believers are "heathens" but I like that word. It's fun to say so I threw it in there.) But honestly, I don't believe that's true. I don't think sitting at a work table or computer monitor thinking "It has to be about God it has to be about God it has to be about God..." is going to produce the most "Christian" work of art for Him. I think we need to let it go and give in to the project. Let it honestly take control and God will be there. God doesn't need us to validate Him. He knows He exists. I think it's more about letting Him show us who He is and surprising us with how He does it.

When the artist is truly a servant to the work, the work is better than the artist... When the work takes over, then the artist is enabled to get out of the way, not to interfere. When the work takes over, then the artist listens... Getting out of the way and listening is not something that comes easily, either in art or in prayer.

Some people might take Madeleine's words there to be a little scary. I think they're great because they mean we don't have to try so hard to create something "good." Usually our method of trying is going about it all wrong anyway. But we are cautioned that getting out of the way takes patience and work of a little different kind on our part:

Someone wrote, "The principal part of faith is patience," and this applies, too, to art of all disciplines. We must work every day, whether we feel like it or not, otherwise when it comes time to get out of the way and listen to the work, we will not be able to heed it.

She compares it to trying to discipline yourself for prayer. And really, they are very much the same process.

The prayers of words cannot be eliminated. And I must pray them daily, whether I feel like praying or not. Otherwise, when God has something to say to me, I will not know how to listen. Until I have worked through self, I will not be enabled to get out of the way.I so think as Christian artists we do have an advantage over non-Believers when trying to create works that reflect real beauty or honesty or life. I don't think we have an exclusive right to it, but we definitely have the advantage in that we who have faith and a relationship with God really know Him (regardless of our understanding anything about Him.) We have a frame of reference that gives us a head start. Even without trying our faith infuses us with with the ability to paint or write or sing God into anything we create.

Comments

Candy said…
Oh, Stacie, you are so inspiring- and I think that so much of what you are saying is relevant not only in a physical art but simply in the art of living. You know, being a Christian, believing in a risen Savior is just as much a part of me as having blue eyes, it is in me, it is who I am. And I think that just as we all have a style in our art, our love for God and our desire to glorify Him is in every stroke of the paintbrush, in every click of the mouse and in every sonnet that we write because we are His child- and we are molded because of His love. LOVING this blog- can't wait to get the book!
Heather said…
"If it can be verified, we don't
need faith."

I JUST had a very revealing conversation with my students this week adn this was the jest of it: One student was trying and trying to "sound" very faithful and full of goodness (and I believe that he is), and another student said, "Just let it go - if it's true, you don't need to prove it to me. It just is the way you are!" I thought it was profound. Well, like freshman, they CANNOT let it go, so the next day, the one who told him to let it go wasn't letting it go and was then asking for proof of what the first child believed. He said, "I can't give you proof -- that's why it's faith!" VERY profound for my stinky little students!!

Popular posts from this blog

Art journaling in the dark.

Being brave.

Again! Again!