(If I had an emcee to introduce this post, she would tell you that this reading is extracted from a soon to be given speech. The original audience is my small group from church. She would also tell you that from this platform of an already prepared speech, I will jump into the exploration of this life, my pursuit of art and whether or not it any of it can be considered good.)
I am a trained public speaker, but these are the events that I despise.
Point 1) The talk is to be more declarative than informative.
Point 2) The audience, while full of lovely people is lacking in numbers.
In light of Points 1 and 2, this experience then is a bit like trying on skinny jeans with Mill Ave on a Friday night as my dressing room.
The simple task was to share what we “do” with the group. Which, to me, is asking first for a definition or a defining thing. I don’t have a thing, or a hat, and I pray often that I am not my job. In the past when I have been out of a job, I joke with friends that Monster doesn’t have a category called “belly dancing minister jin shin jyutsu practicing donut frying soap making photographer who writes. I don’t have a business card because I haven’t found a font small enough yet.
On a good day, I am a hiker & a writer who eats with her eyes and makes small talk over pellets in bottles with labels that read latrodectus mactans 30C.
Bad days. I eat with my mouth cinnamon rolls I baked after not finding satisfaction in the poem I published under my pen name. The poem that recounts my ugly in an attempt to turn it into something beautiful. Hoping, of course, that someone will read it, while praying that no one will notice.
What I do is this.
I exist in a body that I did not design and live out days that I cannot control. I scratch and scrawl and stir and shutter-click my way from the blessings that I call scars until I find relief.
Art is the tool that God gave me to share my ugly with the world. In my revealing, someone will see themselves. Seeing opens to connection. Connection creates ground to grow grace.
I am a Sunday Morning woman with a Saturday story to tell.
I know that Sunday exists. It came. He rose. I am not there yet in my story. I know that the darkness is a doorway and not a land to put down roots.
In these chapters, these works on paper–whether words or photographs or mixed media–I am illustrating the descent, the hours of Saturday some denominations spend in silence. Where all that is consecrated is removed. As long as there is sin, we will stand with one foot in Saturday.
I have been asked to speak of faith and what it means to me in my work. Oftentimes faith is what I struggle against, or more accurately, the faithful.
I don’t doubt my salvation. I don’t doubt that my creativity is a gift and a blessing–though there are days when I have cursed it. The struggle is with shame and what I call the filter of the faithful.
Julie Cameron talks about artist shame in her book The Artist Way.
Making a piece of art may feel a lot like telling a family secret. The act of making art exposes a society to itself. It sheds light on our lingering darkness. It casts a beam into the heart of our own darkness and says, “See?”
Some art stays hidden because many are afraid to open their eyes in the dark. Saturday’s details are compressed into a phrase squeezed in the middle of one verse read aloud on Resurrection Sunday. Those who choose to ignore our own darkness become the filter of the faithful, those wishing for silence, sunshine and Sunday. Against these wishes I continue to create, not to glorify the shadows but to continue to turn my face, my eyes, my mind to the Morning Star.
What happened behind the stone, and in the depths that we care not to fathom makes Sunday shine brighter. Saturday stories turn our eyes to the heavens seeking the One who plunged into Hell and brought us all out as triumphant and radiant.
For now, life is good. Life is the twilight of Saturday with the foreknowledge of Sunday. Expectant grace abounding.
**To see the work, or more like it in person, mark your calendars for The Language of Silence show here coming in November.
***For more posts about the good life, click over to Prodigal Magazine and peruse the stories linked up there.