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Artists' Muse

What if the entire cosmic presence of God in all of creation is the Holy Spirit inside you? The complete enchantment of God's creation through the Spirit's power and the Son's doing is you.

Is God in trees? In birds? In the clouds or planets above? If this was so, then paganism is correct. But paganism is faulty. God's fingerprints are all over everything, but He is not embedded or habituated there.

God does not live in buildings of stones, not in the rocks, not in the mortar between or the soil below. God limits all options of living and occupying creation to you.

How amazing is this?

With this in mind, our life becomes something unique and wonderful. But in the words of Frederick Buechner:

"The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn't have been complete without you.

Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen.

Don't be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It's for you I created the universe. I love you.

There's only one catch. Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you reach out and take it. Maybe being able to reach out and take it is a gift too."

The great Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh once wrote:

"No man need be a mediocrity if he accepts himself as God made him. God only makes geniuses. But many men do not like God's work.

The following was gleaned out of an interview with Zane Lowe, U2's Bono and the Edge, as they talked through their own experience of their art.

Suppose an artist occupies something never occupied before a feeling, a colour in the spectrum, a mood we've never encountered. Experiencing their art, we are getting close to the visitation described as genius.

But most people don't own anything; they are just very good at other people's stuff.

There is a lot of Karaoke greatness out there, but actually to own something that is yours, that feeling, that perception, the unique experience.

If you're an artist, nobody cares that you can paint a face or a landscape.

We want to see a view of that landscape we have never seen before. And when we look away from it, it will always be with us.

The opposite of greatness is not junk; it is almost greatness.

We so easily get distracted with the almost good idea, which forfeits the brilliant idea.

The problem is that you do not know that you are not sharp if you are not. But we are meant to be sharp, to penetrate deeply into what can be found.

When you go out into the world and are energised by what is possible, and you then come in, and your mates are hypnotised by mediocrity, it is right to get angry.

When you realise that you are not particularly great, you struggle so that you discover that your limitations are your strengths. Struggle is a good thing. It means that you have an intensity that always reaches beyond what you are comfortable with. It takes doggedness, determination and application, just plain hard work.

Do we have the wellspring, the energy or the extraordinariness to dive in and make it happen? Talent is nothing, there are loads of talented people, but do we have extraordinariness?

Do we have the blessings, the presence and the gifts? Then, out of our way! We must make much mischief that will disrupt, delight, and be delightful, pushing at the outer boundaries.

We must work hard. In a contemplative blog, this sounds sacrilegious. But longing for God, stilling oneself, and bringing focus to our attention on God is hard work. And it is holy work. I've seen many people that fear or cease to reach out, run after, yearn or want. The result is a slow death.

Win Butler, the lead singer of the band Arcade Fire, reflects the following on his life as an artist, writing music and performing in a band:

Vibration and the sound got into me as a kid, laying down and pressing my ear to my mother's harp while she played.

There are different types of musicians; there are those who are talented, have great voices and like to play music and when they are done and the audience applauds, that is what they are there for. Ultimately, they are there to hear the cheers and receive recognition for a job well done.

Then there are other people who, if they don't play music, will fade away and just die. But real grace is to fail, to struggle, and still not give up.

I'm in that category, and most people I work with are in that category. It's not like a choice. It transcends even vocation. It's like my soul and body need this to exist; otherwise, I will have no function. I'll just be wandering around, totally useless to society. I'm not really scared. I feel really grateful to play and do shows. This band is my life. There is no help for me.

A watering hole in the desert attracts all these wonderful sorts of animals. They are all there for the source. All drinking out of the same sustenance. It's not the artists in all their great diversity making it themselves; they all come for the source.

We don't get to choose when, where, how we were born, country, language and religion we found ourselves. We can only drink from our well. It is what we've got.

We need to stay hungry and excited. It's important to show up, stay hungry and be curious. Quest out.

You don't improve the sunset by saying or talking much about its beauty. When something is truly beautiful, and the Spirit is moving, just accept the gift of it. Receive it in wonder.

We all need to find the source. Drink from it. Drink as uniquely as only we can. Not resent the well offered to us. The still waters we are uniquely led to by our shepherd to drink from.

But so wonderfully, amazingly, we are the humble room that God occupies. Occupies to beautify and grace. To flow from some sort of genius contrary to the boring and mediocrity that dulls the world of our culture.

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2 comentários

Stephan Vosloo
Stephan Vosloo
27 de out. de 2023

That is why the Good Book says that we are sojourners. We just don’t belong. We are in the world but not of the world. No wonder Jesus pleaDes so fervently with his Father that “those whom you have given me may be with me where I am so that they may see my glory”. Oh may we not rest until we love with a love that displays the hidden glory that we carry.

“That they may know that you have sent me and that you have loved them just as you have loved me”.

We (the world) want to see a view of that landscape we have never seen before. And when we look away from it, i…


Tracey Richardson
Tracey Richardson
23 de out. de 2023

Oh I just love this Joe. It just reminds me that I constantly need to be present and checking the state of my mind. Conscious consideration. I so needed to read your blog. Came at the right time when I was so engrossed in my job and what needs to get done. Your notification came in, I realized I was on autopilot.

Thank you for writing this.

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