Not all are called to be artists in the specific sense of the term. Yet, as Genesis has it, all men and women are entrusted with the task of crafting their own life: in a certain sense, they are to make of it a work of art, a masterpiece.
It is important to recognize the distinction, but also the connection, between these two aspects of human activity. The distinction is clear. It is one thing for human beings to be the authors of their own acts, with responsibility for their moral value; it is another to be an artist, able, that is, to respond to the demands of art and faithfully to accept art’s specific dictates.(2) This is what makes
the artist capable of producing objects, but it says nothing as yet of his moral character. We are speaking not of moulding oneself, of forming one’s own personality, but simply of actualizing one’s productive capacities, giving aesthetic form to ideas conceived in the mind. – (St.) John Paul II Letter to Artists
Over the weekend I finished reading Jennifer Fulwiler’s One Beautiful Dream. The final chapters had me in tears, good ones. Not the ugly cry of the winter (yes there were plenty of those days) but the cry of repentance and the cry of freedom.
Let me, for a moment, delve into the cry of repentance and what led to it, and what I’m going to do. In one of the chapters Jennifer she speaks of reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. (downloaded the book to my kindle) He speaks of Resistance:
Think of The War of Art as tough love… for yourself.
Since 2002, The War of Art has inspired people around the world to defeat “Resistance”; to recognize and knock down dream-blocking barriers and to silence the naysayers within us.Resistance kicks everyone’s butt, and the desire to defeat it is equally as universal. The War of Art identifies the enemy that every one of us must face, outlines a battle plan to conquer this internal foe, then pinpoints just how to achieve the greatest success.Though it was written for writers, it has been embraced by business entrepreneurs, actors, dancers, painters, photographers, filmmakers, military service members and thousands of others around the world.
Resistance is that thing that tells us we’re not good enough to do the work, to make the quilts, to write the words that will lead to growth, to new art, to new quilt design, to confidence in taking those stitches, cutting that fabric. Jennifer rightly hints that this might be both an internal struggle and a spiritual struggle. After these last few months I’d agree. In examining my own resistance to being corrected by one of my editors I can see pride cropping up in the interactions. I also (finally) see/hear insecurity, fear, and resistance. I missed an opportunity to grow, to become that better writer, and in that a better teacher. I missed an opportunity to understand more fully that thing I do, and present it. Over and over while reading One Beautiful Dream, in those moments of tears I asked God what I’m to be doing, “Write!” I heard over, and over, and over again. My response, “Okay but what do you want me to write?” I kind of know but need sit with the acquisitions editor for the publisher to see if this will work.
I may have fully missed this opportunity, which would be a natural consequence, however having a conversation is always a good thing.
This is, as John Paul II states, that crafting a life. This crafting a life, honing, shaping, entering into, is something that each of us as well loved human beings, get to enter into that Creative life of God. This means we take an active role in this life, then as artists we have a responsibility and honor to further participate in creating things (quilts, paintings, iron work, sand castles, coloring pages) that move people in some way. We get to elicit a response and we must accept that while our hearts are invested in that object, the response isn’t about us. That response is all about the person viewing. There is a really famous painter that I’m not a fan, don’t like the work. This response has nothing to do with the person of the painter, it has to do with how it moves me.
As I look at this crafting life and crafting art there is an opportunity for a new response, there is a need for a new response from my self rooted in the freedom that God, our Creator, asks us to enter into as His well loved children. Part of the “what I’m going to do” is tidy up my sewing space and examine what’s in there – does it stay, does it go. Next I’m going to continue with the personal inventory. Until I’m working (still need that day job Lord) I’m dedicating an hour, or two, to writing. I’ll start with the original premise of the book, and go from there.
Prayer: Father in heaven have mercy on the way I travel, and create this life, and the art I make. Allow me to enter into your Creative life more deeply. Let my experiences inform the beauty I am privileged to create. Let me hear the words to write, to speak a word that brings life. Thank you for the “gift” of pride that gives me so many opportunities to draw nearer to you. Amen.