Today we are taking a deeper look into how the act of creating gives us practice in a greater art and one more way Playing with the Arts benefits us as humans, but especially as Christians.
The Art of Process Repentance (or Learning how to Live) by Lisa Amer
Have you ever noticed that quite often when we speak of art there tends to be so much focus on the product, or end result of the art that the process that brings it about is overlooked?
I can see a beautiful painting, and be touched by the artist’s use of color and light to create a certain effect, but I probably will not give a second thought to what it took to create that effect. I can listen to a beautiful piece of music and be moved to tears by its poignancy, but I am hardly likely to be able to grasp the changes that took place in the composer’s life in order to bring those notes together in such a way.
It’s ok, as observers of art, to be unaware to some extent of what it takes to produce a beautiful piece. But I think that if we want to be artists ourselves we must become cognizant of the fact that the process of creating is often of much greater consequence than the final product of our labors. The doing itself is part of who we are becoming by participating in the process, and learning how to live is entirely, the art of process.
I find it interesting to note that the word process implies a movement toward an end: a procession. The question that we need to ask is, what is end product my life? Where am I going? As a Christian, my goal is to become more like my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
In the Orthodox Church, there is a name for the process of becoming more like God: it is called theosis. Theosis involves the transformation of a person as he becomes by grace what God is by nature. God, is the Creator of the world and thus the First Artist. He takes our lives, messy though they might be, and shapes, molds, and transforms us “from glory to glory” in order to make us into who we are meant to be, but he will only do this work if we allow Him to enter in.
The choice to accept or reject His grace remains with each one of us. Thus, let us consider the key to the process of living life to be repentance.
As a mother, I have been forced to come to terms with my fallen-ness every day. I make many, many mistakes. I yell. I am rude. I am selfish. In short, I fail to love the way I ought. I fall over and over again, but daily, even hourly, the choice remains with me – will I stay down, or will I get back up and try again? Am I willing to repent and to turn back toward God after I have sinned? Will I let my sinfulness, my illness, dictate my actions or will I choose healing and mercy?
Perhaps repentance does not seem to have much if anything, to do with art, but I would argue that repentance is an art: it is the art of living. It is the art of turning away from mistakes and failures and turning back toward what is good, true and beautiful.
Here are a few practical things to think about when considering the Art of Repentance:
: : Accept the fact that mistakes happen. No one is perfect, and there will be times when our projects, whatever they happen to be, get messy.
: : When mistakes happen we can always start again. Sometimes that means starting again from the very beginning. Other times we may be able to take a step back, breathe, and then get right back into the swing of things.
: : High standards and low expectations are oftentimes a key to lessening frustration when we are just learning how to do something new. It’s important to have a lofty goal while at the same time acknowledging that it may take us awhile to reach it.
: : Always keep in mind that the process involved in learning any art is just as crucial to one’s success as the final product. Great works of art don’t happen by accident. A real master will be capable of producing beautiful art precisely because of the process he went through as he learned his art – whatever that art might be.
: : Practice is necessary for any art, including the art of repentance. We must learn to turn back to what is Good again and again (and again and again) until it becomes a way of life.
These ideas are applicable to any art, not just the Art of Repentance. If we can take these ideas to heart and apply them, then we may indeed begin to learn how to live!
|This part is a member of our 31 Days of Playing with the Arts Series|