Sleeping in til 6:30 instead of getting up at 5:30. A dinner thrown together that turned out to be a wonderful recipe to hang on to. Wearing sweaters in July. Swinging on park swings as the sun goes down. Piano keys singing late at night. Phone calls with dear friends in spare moments. Anticipating the weekend.
I'm trying to cultivate gratitude. That book I mentioned reading, One Thousand Gifts, really impacted me. The practice of naming things specifically seems to be the way to deeper thankfulness. Interestingly enough, the book I'm reading now by John Piper makes statements about how the effort to express something more eloquently or profoundly is a way of more deeply seeing and savoring it.
I'm going to make a claim following this pattern. The effort to create new art that echoes real or imagined beauty and the practice of imitating beautiful things through art can be a way to appreciate something more fully.
I've already seen this happen, but I didn't realize it at the time. See, I understood that it takes practice to make many things perfect. I've always been willing to practice design to improve myself. I often doodle words or phrases that I like, copying styles of hand lettering that I've seen. This is frustrating. I can't make anything completely new. I'm sure someone else has already tackled the phrase I'm trying to draw and they probably did a better job. In a way, anyone can "hand letter" because, well, it's their handwriting. Who is to say it is good or not?
Sayings of all sorts drawn by different people flood social media. Inspirational quotes, proverbs...I know we've all seen them. I collect the best ones, because in looking at a well designed piece, I am moved to reflect on the words.
Could it be, that in attempting to create something beautiful, I can better reflect and even meditate on the source? In this case words, whatever they may be...in other cases, the infinite Creator Himself?
Poetry to the amazing George Herbert was "that which while I use, I am with thee". What is that thing you do, that while you do it, you are closer to God? Even if the creative metaphors don't resonate, I really do think there's something everyone can say draws them closer. Is it fishing, running, singing, spending time with people? Of course, you have to look for Him in these places – but spaces can be made more hallowed by intent.
George Herbert finally revealed his poetry on his deathbed. His whole life he had wrestled with and loved God and made a record of it for his own soul to benefit. Poetry drew him nearer. But he realized that perhaps others might benefit from it as well, and so he gave it to someone who could decide whether or not to publish it, and gave in a humble manner.
Isn't it so true that we are heavily impacted by words, art, all things visual, audible, beautiful? I love this line from Herbert...
"A verse may finde him, who a sermon flies"
And a thought from Piper:
"God uses natural vessles to display his supernatural reality."
This tells me perhaps whatever I create with my hands can be of use. As is the nature of projects, I am going to have to practice. The next path I think I'm taking is to carefully select words and phrases from my journey through scripture and bring them to life on paper. This is absolutely nothing new. Someone will probably have already done it, and done it better. But for the sake of my soul I will practice creating because art is that which while I use...I am with Him.
I ask whoever reads this to join me. Part of being a community of believers means sharing our journeys to help each other draw nearer to the throne. Particularly if what you do is visual, I'd personally love to see it. #thewonderlustproject. Do it. It doesn't have to be beautiful...it has to just be beautiful to you.