Getting to that place feels like jumping hurdles though. And not the kind of hurdles you clear! The kind you think you get a solid running start too, leap, slam your shin into the bar, and then proceed to face plant.
I'm have a stare down with fear, believing a lie that I will have nothing of value to offer. The word 'artist' has a way of stripping me of any lingering pride, self-assurance, or self-confidence, and that’s not comfortable by any means.
When I say this work has been a sliver of God's grace in my life, I do mean it. This work has never come naturally to me.
I can’t create, or communicate with any kind of value, excellence, or beauty without the Lords divine creative direction. And let me tell you what is frustrating about that! He has never rounded out ideas, visions, or dreams, for me in the time frame I’d like.
Jesus takes His time and is letting me sit with an unfinished puzzle.
I believe there is a season for everything, and my eyes are awe-struck at the new story He is starting to write, and I think (okay, maybe just hope) it’s close to being ready to share, but not yet.
He’s teaching me that it’s good to sit with the puzzle pieces of this vocation, art, and business. To wait for completion. To trust that it will come because it’s the fragmented pieces that help us see there is a puzzle to be pieced together in the first place.
So when people ask me what I’m doing now that I’m graduated, I think my new response needs to be ‘sitting with fragmented pieces, seeing which ones fit in what places, and waiting for the puzzle to be complete.’
This art, this work, is bigger than I am. It always will be, because God uses beautiful things, beautiful art, to relieve pressure, ease tension, and break agreements with the lies we so easily get entangled in, and I have no power to partake in that work apart from Him.
M E A R C S T A P A S
“…an Old English word used in Beowulf: mearcstapas, translated ‘border-walkers’ or ‘border-stalkers.’… individuals who lived on the edges of their groups, going in and out of them, sometimes bringing back news to the tribe” (p 58).
Fujimura makes the argument that artist are mearcstapas- those who are often difficult to pin down, notorious for being independent, never comfortable in homogenous groups, and often branded as difficult people.
However, “in boarder-stalking, we have a role that both addresses the reality of fragmentation and offers a fitting means to help people from all our many and divided cultural tribes learn to appreciate the margins, lower the barriers to understanding and communication, and start to defuse culture wars” (p 58).
I don't know that our American Christian culture quite knows how to disciple mearcstapas, cultivate spaces that foster their gifting, or encourage their 'boarder-stalking' in way that allows them to step into their callings, while simultaneously protecting them from culture/themselves.
Creativity is a slow process that requires being comfortable apart from the homogeneity. It's a total dependence on Jesus that my flesh and bones fight on the daily. It scares me because it wounds me. It's John 3:30 binding around my neck- I crave it and resist it all at once...
I constantly am having to remind myself that I don’t believe God is looking for us to become the next big thing, take our next right step, think the right way, say the right things, or have the purest heart. He's not an 'either-or' God. We don’t owe the world, or ourselves anything as artists- we simply must gaze upon that which is beautiful, Jesus. I’ve heard it said, ‘It’s being carefree without being careless.”
We have to have our eyes opened to the puzzle at hand, and then allow ourselves to sit with the pieces.
Fujimura also wrote, "All of us, artists and others alike, will face some degree of struggle in responding to our call. But we are called into love, and we need to be bold in declaring our calls. For artists who create through such a calling toward a greater love art is at the core of their reality, their very existence" (p 126).
I’m an artist, and I'm learning to embrace the peculiarities that come with that. My story is changing, and I don’t have the words for it yet. It’s a terrifying process, and I don't know where it's leading me. I’m re-learning how to see colors, tones, shadows, and light. I’m seeking new words, paragraphs, and sentences. I’m sitting with pieces of a puzzle that I’m still putting together, but…
I see that there is a puzzle; and sometimes that is the greatest feat of all.
Matthew 10:16 "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes, and as innocent as doves."
Written in progress,