Art as Language

Art as Language

DSCN4314We had Rik and Zara Leaf with their two kids with us for a week. They just left today. Rik took the entire Sunday morning, playing his songs and talking in between. It was a refreshing time. There was no preaching of any kind. He told stories and talked about their own experiences. His mixture of music, poetry and story-telling had a powerful impact on our community. He lost his father this last year and he shared that with us. That afternoon I went home and wrote a letter to my own dad. This last summer when we visited I told him some of what was going on in my life. I was afraid that he might be disappointed in me because I have a history of being a shit-disturber and rocking the boat, perpetually self-sabotaging my own success. Rather than express disappointment, he was totally supportive. I wanted to tell him how much that meant to me. I closed the letter with my love, saying: "I wanted to tell you this rather than wishing I had." We underestimate the power of the arts. Even Jesus told stories and did things as his main mode of communication. I don't think he was a preacher. I remember this last summer reading Cormac McCarthy's book The Road. Now, I've watched all the documentaries and read science books and magazines and pamphlets warning me about our impact on the environment, but to no avail, even though I cognitively understood the problem. After I read The Road I became not only interested in but more passionate about radically decreasing the size of my own footprint on the environment. It literally transformed my mind and my behavior as a result. I remember listening to the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt's cd, Te Deum, and being overwhelmed with the universe being full of Glory and that all is loved. I remember seeing the French artist Luc-Olivier Merson's work, Rest on the Flight to Egypt (view it here), and being transformed to understand that the good news isn't just for everybody, but includes everybody. That's why, when I say I am an artist trapped in a pastor's body, it isn't a bad thing. I am creative, and my creativity doesn't just find expression in my paintings, my cartoons, my music or my sculptures, but in everything I do, including my relationships and the way I pastor a community. Rik affirmed that to me this weekend when he said that our community is like nothing he's ever seen or experienced, and he thinks it is beautiful. That's because we are trying to be creative instead of copycats. The photo was taken this morning out my backdoor. Do you see the young buck bedded down in our shrubs?

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