It’s been quite a week. I began here a week ago and I returned here this morning, but in between….well that was a week. Let me just explain it as briefly, but thoroughly as I can. Seven of us traveling together on a ridiculously early flight, arrival in Chicago, rental car success, great meal, great hotel, cicada invasion, ridiculous traffic, plan B on the “El” to downtown, wonderful walk in wonderful weather through some classic architecture, Michigan avenue, Hershey’s store, great neighborhood deep dish pizza, back on the “El”, great hotel, very large conference full of artists and inspiration, more cicadas, Navy Pier, back to the airport for a ridiculously late flight, giving up seats for two more tickets, a free stay in a gorgeous hotel, first class flight in the morning, graduation parties, teaching in my community o’ faith, Fathers Day, and now here I am again. It’s been quite a week.
All through this experience I’ve had the same thought running through my head. Ginomai. It’s pronounced gee-no-my, or something close to it if you want to be in the know. Otherwise you can just butcher it like most people do. Usually they just look at me with a “what are you talking about?” kind of look. It means “bringing into being or existence”. It’s Greek. It makes me feel smarter when I say it and it sounds kind of cool. Anyway, I chose to name our own art community offering that my community o’ faith has embarked upon over the past 10 months. I chose this word to identify what was resurrected after the death of our school, in a tribute to the origin of everything that was created outlined in the Book of Books, John Chapter 3. The word haunted me all week.
As I said earlier, I was surrounded by artists all week. They were painters, sculptors, dancers, musicians, poets, writers, vocalists, and technicians. It was very inspiring because, as was repeated often during the week, artists have been noticeably absent over the past many decades when it comes to the average faith community. It’s in the heart of why we have given some of what my community has over to artists. For many years I’ve wondered what has happened to creativity in a community that worships the Creator. I may have come to a resolution of sorts with this.
Here it what I think. Take it for what it’s worth. I have considered myself an artist of sorts for the majority of my adult life. However, it has always been in the context of “artist in hiding” or a “closet artist”. I’ve never stopped to consider what has kept me in hiding or in the closet. I’ve never stopped to seriously wonder why I don’t spend more time in something that is obviously part of me. I never did, until this week. When it finally occurred to me, it was actually very simple and very obvious. It’s time. Actually it is time spent and where it is spent. I spend most of my time dealing with a profession that is in and around and under and about the Creator. I’m realizing that I don’t get to spend much time “with” the Creator. In the simplest of terms, I’m in church and most artists that I know aren’t. On the surface it seems simple doesn’t it? I spend too much time in the church to be creative. Even as I write these words, I see how dangerous this has become. Let me say this clearly though. I do not believe that I have to get out of church to have time to be creative. I have to quit “doing” church.
There is an interesting and haunting passage in the “Book of Books”, actually in John again, which deals with this very dilemma. Coincidence? There are two sisters hosting Jesus, the original ginomai, at a home party. Think Tupperware, except the demonstration is given by the Creator of the universe. Anyway, like two siblings in the back of a minivan traveling across Wyoming, they are in conflict. And like the average pair of siblings, they can’t resolve it themselves without tattling. So Martha, the anal retentive sister, is tattling on Mary to Jesus about how here sister won’t share the load when it comes to snack prep. I think that she was actually of the mindset that Jesus would be on her side. Responsibility and all things considered, I totally could understand where she was coming from. It’s the schedule thing. Anyway, as Jesus usually did, He came up with an unexpected answer. It’s unexpected to me, but it really shouldn’t be if you understand His point of view. He tells Martha that Mary, who has chosen to sit at His feet listening to His every word, has chosen the better work. How is that possible? She didn’t choose work at all. She chose sitting on her tail. I know those people, they drive me crazy.
I need to get over it. He is Jesus after all so I’m guessing that it’s more likely that His interpretation of life is a bit more accurate than mine. The artists that I know spend time in a presence and process that allows them a flow of creativity. I don’t mean to say that they all share my faith or at least my views on how it is lived out. Many, if not most, do not. That doesn’t negate the fact that God as ginomai, is most likely involved in their creative process. I’m not sure. What I am sure of is this. The reason why I’m still an “artist in hiding” is that I spend way too much “doing” my life of faith and not enough “being”. I’ve referred often to my chosen profession in the pastoral arts field. In that field, titles have become very important. They identify what you’re place of influence could or should be. I think that I may change mine to Pastoral Artist. In order for it to be credible though, I’ll need to focus on “the better work”. I’ll need to focus on ginomai.