The Art Environment
“we are an art form, whether we think of it or not, and whether we do anything about it or not. We are an environment, each one of us. We are an environment for the other people with whom we live, the people with whom we work, the people with whom we communicate. And in this sense we do not choose an art form and create something in that form; we are an art form. Just as ‘The Environment’ (a popular modern art form of her time where the artist creates a space that is supposed to elicit a specific emotion or response from the viewer) …involved people when they simply walk in, so we are an environment which is affecting people around us. People who come across us or who walk into our presence, become involved.”
We, as well as our surroundings, are the environment. We cannot escape from this reality. We are spiritual beings and part of a spiritual world. That means the thoughts, decisions, and situations we are involved with have a way of escaping our walls and then influencing those around us. Spiritual beings have spiritual thoughts, problems, and situations and no matter how hard we try we cannot contain the things of the spirit. Therefore, our only option is to choose what kinds of thing we want to exude.
“In the power of the Holy Spirit we can be an environment that is really an art form God can be using directly to affect and involve other people. Of course, we do not give the Holy Spirit perfect freedom to work in and through us because we hinder Him through sin and neglect.” -Edith Schaeffer, Hidden Art
The good news is we have been given the truth through the Scriptures and Creation. We can go to The Word; we can go to Jesus time and time again with our sins, burdens, and cares. We can lay them all down at the foot of the cross and walk away free, in doing so giving a bit more room for the Holy Spirit to use us in bringing others to the Father.
As we become more spiritually formed certain tensions will start to be resolved. One of those tensions is the tension of divisions, the idea that different things must exist apart because there is no harmony in them together. I think this might be one of the biggest lies of our culture and this world. People, things, subjects, ideas, and groups are all cutoff from each other and divided. We say to ourselves the elderly and the teen don’t mesh, so we are going to separate their Sunday school classes. We say math has nothing to do with history, so we are going to have specialists that teach each subject separately. We say they drink and eat meat so don’t hang out with them. We say the ethnicity or the color of our skin makes us different kinds of things, so let’s just hang out with those who are like us. Even if we do not say these things explicitly in our minds our actions communicate something of this. We are disintegrated beings in a disintegrated world.
Maybe the reason for this is because the disintegration is also the fundamental curse we live under in this fallen world. We divide by many things, but there is only one true division. We were once integrated with God, walking in the cool of the day with Him, but then we were separated, because sin distorted us, and there is no harmony between our Holy God and sin.
The blessed news though is that in Christ we no longer have to live in this disintegration with God. We can once again enter His rest. We desperately need Jesus to integrated us, the saving harmonizer of all things. He, the Prince of Peace, is the only one who can give a revelation of harmony in any situation. Whether it be related to people, cultures, ages, subjects, ideas and life. Jesus is the one and the many.
So what can we do? How can we become integrated? How can we see the harmony that exists in all things? I believe there is only one way.
“But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:42
Friends, the only thing that can truly integrate us is entering the rest of Christ. In the rest of Christ, there is no striving, we have come to an end of ourselves, and He does the work. Our work is to die to self, to repent, to allow Him to re-create us in the palm of his mighty and loving hand. This is the hardest thing ever and the best thing ever all at the same time. I cannot say how exactly each of us will enter his rest today, tomorrow or the next day, all I know is that it is a daily thing, and He is faithful. Ask Him and he will help you and show you.I will say, as I have thought back on the ebb and flow of my life so far and times where I have experienced revelation, repentance, and deliverance I have noticed some patterns and common circumstances.
The following are some forms, if you will, that seem to have been present at such times.
:: Studying the Scriptures
:: Prayer (of varying kinds and intensity)
:: Unity between Ernie (my husband) and me.
:: Unity between my church family and me.
:: Time in nature
:: Times of true leisure, celebration, and recreation
Not only were these forms present when I experienced greater depths of deliverance and revelation, but they also inspired me to create in a variety of ways. I cannot tell you how many times I will be in the middle of worship and inspiration for a painting would traverse through my mind. Then, in the process of painting, more is revealed to my soul about God, life, and reality. It is an incredible circle of blessing and communing with God. Creation, creating, Re-creation, all inspire the work that needs to be done in my life. My response, many times, is to create more, and in the process more is revealed, and so on.Integration in every place and on every level is exactly what the classical tradition allows us to do every day, if we allow it, because, nothing else matters. There is but one thing that is needful. If we seek after it, it will not be taken away. Then maybe, by just a little bit more each day, we can be an artful environment for God to work in and through. What a thought, God creates the environment He would like to work though, all He needs is willing participants.
Expanding wisdom, extending grace,
|This part is a member of our 31 Days of Playing with the Arts Series|