It was a beautiful day.
I'm reading a book entitled "for the beauty of the church - casting a vision for the arts", edited by David Taylor. I've only made it through the first chapter so far, but am already deeply encouraged as an artist, and as a Christ follower. I'm not going to summarize, but I'll let you in on my favourite quote:
Our attitude toward art ultimately has a great deal to do with our attitude toward worship. Much is at stake in whether we think that our worship is a free response to grace or an exercise in persuasion, an effort to get either God or people to do what we want them to do...There is a kind of art that is too easy, too willing to let us off the hook, too comforting and too culpably ignorant of what exactly grace costs. At the moment, we find this most often in the bestselling art of the Christian subculture than in the secular art world...
I wanted to jump up and down when I read this. Often I feel this pull to easy art, and easy Christianity, that looks a certain way and seems useful (the painting is useful because it has Biblical subject matter....I am a useful person because i did the laundry and played with my children). But is that truly what defines me? what makes me adequate - my usefulness? is that what defines my art? my worship? parenting? marriage? Do I live my life in such a way as to appease my God, to prove that I'm of some use, or to enjoy Him and all that He has given me?
"the chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever" (Piper)
What I'm trying to get at is that it's enough for me to live in a state of dependant thankfulness, aware of God's goodness, eager to glorify Him, and to enjoy His beauty. I need to look less at my usefulness, and more at the inherent grace in each inhale and exhale.
I've been questioning these flowers I've been painting, like they're not overtly glorifying God enough (which I know is ridiculous). And the time I spend working to make my house a place of beauty and rest and respite (is this important?). And the lengths I go to to prepare a delicious meal (hence the aforementioned pasta sauce dilemna). And the happiness I get from a good hair day and nice fitting pants (nuff said). And how I stare at my children intoxicated by how beautiful they are (pride pride pride). I'm encouraged because I believe that God is telling me that He is beauty, that He sustains and perpetuates beauty, and that I can worship Him in the beauty I find (and sometimes even create) around me. I am finding grace for myself in the moment-by-moment of God's grace to me.
in short form: maybe it's okay that I'm a fanatic for beauty.
I heard the "beauty will save the world" quote on CBC, where a documentary went on to introduce a number of people who's lives were sincerly changed by an experience of beauty. And I wanted to shout (actually, I might have), GOD is beauty! He was talking about GOD!!! My friend Cori recently asked me to paint an image of her being embraced by God, by her "heavenly father". She later told me that the act of creating the image I would work from for the painting was very healing and confirming for her. Amazing. I feel so grateful to have been a part of that process, and I hope the beauty in this painting continues to change her world for years to come. (sorry the pic is a bit tilted)