Wednesday, September 29, 2010

If I Could Talk to You

I took this shot from a rooftop of a church.  They make full use of their roofs!

 Recently I went on a missions trip to a country that is really, well, out of our reach. It's very difficult to get there, in fact, most people aren't allowed. Having made many friends on the trip and feeling like I'd made a big impact, I came back pretty torn up. This is the poem I penned when I got back. It's simply called,

                      If I Could Talk to You

If I could talk to you,

I would share my life with you.
I would tell you of my love
and my constant thoughts toward you.

At a cemetary we found a row of these beautiful angels, all different.
If I could walk with you,
We would walk hand in hand
through life –
together –
through the good and the bad.

If I could but reach you,
I would laugh with you,
enjoy you;
a deep friendship that never ends.

If I could embrace you,
I would hold you
and never let you go.

If I could be there for you,
I would pick you up
dust you off,
wipe your tears,
and carry you
until you could once again walk.

Gorgeous, verdant countryside viewed by bus.
Alas! I cannot do these things!
I cannot talk to you or walk with you
I cannot reach you or embrace you
I cannot be there for you!
You are too far, too far!

… beyond my reach.

Help me!
Help me be there.

Be there.
Reach for me.

No, I cannot do these things.
But I can pray for you.

And I know Someone
Who shared His all for you,
and has constant thoughts toward you.
His love for you reaches down through the heavens.

He will walk with you,
laugh with you,
enjoy you,
And His love for you will never end.

He will hold you
in His everlasting embrace
and never let you go.

He is always there for you.
He will pick you up,
wipe your tears,
and carry you when your strength is gone,
until you rise up with the wings of an eagle.

He will be your friend.

These are the things I would tell you,

If I could talk to you.

That's how I feel about this country. Another other poets out there? I don't write a lot, but when I'm very emotionally moved, I find myself reaching for the pen.
These are aptly nicknamed 'Octopus Trees.'  Wonder why? :)

I wrote this poem in the night, well, in the morning, between 3:30 and 5:00 a.m. I woke up freezing and began to think (dangerous thing, that thinking at night!) It took a half hour to write it and do the first revision, a half hour to rewrite it and do the second and third revisions. Somewhere in that time, I went back to bed, but couldn’t get it out of my head so I had to get up to make final, minor changes. When I sat down to type it out, I only changed two words. I'm curious to know how long it takes others to write poetry?

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Musician's Musings

Now that it’s September, I mark three years since my car accident. I’ve been thinking about life. I remember that date, September 6, and rejoice that I’m alive. Looking through my diary, I just found the following entry which I wrote last Christmas. I stood before our congregation at church and spoke before playing a solo.

I’m thinking about some of you who may not be having a very good Christmas. Like many musicians, one of the most important things about Christmas for me is to make music. Well, last Christmas was a very difficult one for me – you see, there was no music.

About 14 months ago, I was on Highway 45 going 70 mph with the line of traffic, and it suddenly came to a stop. A big, Dodge duely didn’t even slow down and smashed into the back of me. Changed my life! Last Christmas, there were many things I couldn’t do, one of which was holding up this 300 pound flute.

When I come into this building, I look around and think, ‘these are my people.’ Many of you don’t even know me, and I bet you didn’t realize that you were my people! I can’t help but smile when I’m with you because I love you all. I’m standing before you today because many of you walked through this last year with me. You knew that behind this smile there was a lot of pain.

I’m here because of you. I’m recovering because of physical therapists that are trying very hard to kill me. But I’m here especially because of my nine year old son, Noah, who prayed for me every day, day in and day out, faithfully, even when I couldn’t pray for myself. Thank you, Noah!

So, I stand before you today with music welling up from my very soul. Music in thanks to the One who created us, who formed the mountains, who made the wind, who declares His thoughts to us, who makes the morning darkness and treads upon the high places of the earth, the LORD GOD OF HOSTS IS HIS NAME.”

Then I played ‘Mary Did You Know,’ and it was truly beautiful. Thank YOU, Lord, that I can play again! For over a year, I couldn’t sit at all as I have bulging discs. Even as I sit here and type, my left leg is tingly and numb. Excruciatingly slowly, I’m getting better, and I continue each and every day with my 20 minutes of sweaty, therapeutic exercises. All this to say – life is very special. Let’s all walk worthy of our Creator and LIVE.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Balancing Art and Christianity

I have been doing some deep thinking and reading some philosophical books on Christians and the arts this summer, and it has solidified many of my thoughts on the subject. Last night we watched a movie that was a perfect example of where I’m at.

We watched “The List,” by Robert Whitlow with our daughter.
I believe that as a Christian artist I need not only to portray a beautiful Christ and a hope to this world, but to admit that we live in a fallen world, and that we live amongst evil and sin. If the world sees nothing but smiley face bumper stickers that say “Smile, Jesus Loves You,” and cute, big-eyed puppies with catchy Christian slogans, that same world is going to write us off as living in la-la land, and as people who can’t possibly understand their problems.
“The List,” rated PG, was perfect. It portrayed evil for what it was. It gave a number of beautiful pictures of believers, and offered hope. The overall message was PRAY MORE. That thought lingers with me still. The author and producer clearly painted the Christian message without the in-your-face obviousness that turns people off. I highly recommend it for you and your teens. (By the way, Whitlow is a master at this in all of his non-fiction books).

I believe that as an artist I must somehow paint a balance of dark and light, evil and good to meet people where they are and draw them to Christ. Hans Rookmaaker, in his book Modern Art and the Death of a Culture, states that we must use arts “not as a mere tool for evangelism but as an authentic expression of human life in a broken yet redeemed world.” THIS the world can relate to.
When we as believers show beautiful, squeaky-clean faces to the world and never let them know of our problems, we’ll be turned off immediately. This not only goes for fine arts, but music, books, movies, theatre, the internet, etc. While we are raising our children, we must be conscious about preparing them for the future. It’s important that we give them a balanced view of the world. It’s important that we prepare them, and ourselves, to speak to a lost world.

Francis Schaeffer says “Just because something is beautifully written it does not mean it is true.” We need to teach our children not only to write well, but to know how to speak to meet unbelievers where they are - presenting both darkness and light, sin, redemption and hope. Teach them to paint. To imagine. To create. To make music. To debate. To dance. The Harvard Business Review now says that “creative edge is what businesses now want.” Let’s train our children up to be creative people so that when they are grown they can be salt and light, as we are called to be.

Rookmaker says “To be Christian involves all our work and activity, understanding that there is nothing neutral, nothing apart from Christ’s reign.” Paul calls us to be Jews to the Jews and Greek to the Greeks. This means we need to study and understand their problems and be able to meet them where they are. And prepare our children to be the best they can be in whatever area they have been gifted in to reach lost people.

Psalm 137:5 says, “If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill.” My we be both skilled and prepared, and may we remember Who it is who gifted us. And, we shouldn’t forget, the way we live our lives before God and the world should speak loudest of all.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Durer's House and Artist's Studio

These pictures are from our recent trip to Germany. We visited Nuremberg and toured Albrecht Durer's house. My favorite part, of course, was his studio. In those days, an artist couldn't run to Texas Art Supply for his acrylics, but had to mix his own paint. It was typical for him to grind his own pigments, mix them, and put them into little squares of pigs' bladder to preserve them. Durer's studio had an extensive display of pigments for this purpose. They also had on display a nice wood block depicting one of Durer's 'St. Jerome in his Study' blocks, along with someone demonstrating how the artist made his prints. Altogether it was a lovely experience. After that, we ate outdoors at a cafe in the Tiergartnertorplatz (I'm assuming this means the garden plaza, near his home.) In that same square, there's a tribute to Durer's masterful watercolor hare - 'Hommage a Durer,' which is a modern, ten foot rabbit. I'm ready to go back.