My writing mentor and long-distance life coach Jeff Goins wrote recently,
‘The pain and plight of the artistic life is too romanticized. Creativity and suffering are closely connected, but not dependent on each other.
Art exists in spite of pain, not because of it. And as an artist, you will always be rebelling against injustice, always pushing back darkness.
You can create begrudgingly or gratefully.’
So last week there were super tough parenting days because we’re shaping small strong men under this roof – trying to turn them into art – and I try to remember that the Potter is still at the wheel and the clay is still soft but sometimes the panic still rises because I can’t see the wood for the tantrums and mostly I’m pushing back the darkness in me, not them. It was mess. Not art.
And I was working on my book and it was super tough too because it’s calling me and costing me emotionally – intellectually – spiritually – and if you ask my physio, physically. I was writing posts for the WordSpace and preparing a talk for women I don’t know so I don’t know where my words will land and I was trying to feel cool enough to plan teen church for Sunday and I was cabin-feverish at my desk and pushing back all the darkness on the back foot. It was slog. Not art.
Then, my passport expires soon so I went to my favourite Fuji joint for right-sized I-am-not-a-terrorist photos. A really lovely, enormously-grinning, Chinese couple have run the shop since I was in high school. So the wife sits me on the stool and makes several attempts to snap me just so. She’s clearly dissatisfied with the results but eventually concedes, ‘Yes, iss ok.’ I pay and she slides four cropped photos across the counter. She shakes her head – sad – disappointed – and says, ‘See? You have skew face.’ Well. She had done everything she could. But my face, and that photo? Not art.
Then I read Ann’s Wednesday post, about grace. How grace is gift upon gift upon gift. How it just keeps coming, like the snow on her side of the equator.
And I thought about how it’s grace that saves us – grace that pushes back the darkness – grace that makes us new creations – grace that turns us into art. And God keeps sending new grace with the sunrise. And even on the super tough days when lines blur and my thoughts are sludge and my fingers won’t fly across the keys and I hug my boys tight and kiss them wild to be sure not to kill them there’s always something to celebrate. There’s always the soft bright glow of grace. There are always all-terrain-Lego-space-vehicles to build. And high-shelf human-sculpture balancing-acts to fetch down the Milo at bedtime. And the hallelujah-crescendo of gates opening: Dad’s home! And word symphonies in dozens of whispered I-love-yous. And Downton Abbey Season 4. And tea.
There’s always art to be made – gratefully, not begrudgingly.
That’s my obedience act for the week – the truth to set me free. I’ll make all the grace art I can. Even – and especially – in the ways no one else will see except the One whose eyes are on the gallery of my heart.