Hello Fiercelings, I want to talk about the importance of reading, specifically reading regularly. How many books do you read a week? A month? A year? I read an article that my mom had laying around about someone who has for the past five […]
Tag: Madeline L’Engle
Also known as Walking on Water Part II =D Read part I here .
Because there is so much material in Walking On Water by Madeleine L’Engle I will probably be doing a myriad of posts based on the book. Once I have gotten all my thoughts about this book out I will create a page for you to find out about all of them. You can read the first post I wrote about the book here.The bulk of the good stuff in Walking On Water is in the last four or five chapters. The excerpt from the book that I will be focusing on today is from the chapter titled “The Journey Homeward”.
L’Engle talks about, in order for us to create, as artists, we have to let go of ourselves. She compares this to faith a lot and talks about how we delude ourselves into thinking that if we obtain control over ourselves we’ll gain more faith or as in the artist’s case we’ll be capable of “writing the great American novel” or whatever it is we desire to create. But, in Christianity, the solution to us gaining more faith is never us summoning more self control but letting go of ourselves, dying to self, surrendering to God. Self-control is actually an oxymoron when you think about it because we don’t have control over ourselves because of self. The question then becomes how can I release control of myself to have more faith or as an artist, create art? L’Engle explains by intertwining what happens when we pray and how the same thing happens when we create.
“In prayer, in the creative process, these two parts of ourselves, the mind and the heart, the intellect and the intuition, the conscious and the subconscious mind, stop fighting each other and collaborate. Theophan the Recluse advised those who came to him for counsel to “pray with the mind in the heart,” and surely this is how the artist works. When mind and heart work together, they know each other as two people who love each other know; and as the love of two people is a gift, a totally unmerited, incomprehensible gift, so is the union of mind and heart. David cried out to God, “Unite my heart to fear thy Name.” It is my prayer, too.”
When we pray, our heart and mind are in agreement and the same thing happens when we create. Prayer is a way for us to communicate with the divine. On the next page L’Engle quotes in length Berdyaev, the Russian religious and political philosopher, but I am only going to pull a sentence from him. He says;
“The creative act is an escape from the power of time and ascent to the divine…”
This quote really revealed more to me of what praying is about versus what creating is about. I already view creating as a worshipful act because it is who God made me to be and so by creating I am in cohorts with God about who I am which then brings glory to God. Worship is that which brings glory to God. In prayer, “we ascent to the divine” by communicating with God. L’Engle responds to Berdyaev by saying;
“Most artists are aware that during the deepest moments of that creation they are out on the other side of themselves, and so are free from time, with the same joyousness that comes in the greatest moments of prayer.”
I believe this reveals some of the high that you can get from creating, because you go to “the other side” of yourself. You tap into your subconscious which can be liberating. Maybe that’s what creativity is all about, tapping into our subconscious, liberating ourselves, being free. I shall close with thoughts about this paragraph by Berdyaev,
“Creativeness is the struggle against the consequences of sin, the expression of man’s true vocation, but creativeness is distorted and debased by sin. Hence the ethics of creativeness deal with the agonizing struggle of the human spirit. Creativeness needs purification, needs the purifying fire.”
What this really says to me is that creativity is a form of sanctification. Creativity can bring us closer to the divine because we go to the Creator and say I am a little creator but I wish to create with you, big Creator. God invites the artist back into time, before sin, when were designed to create with God. I believe this is what Berdyaev meant by “creativeness is the struggle against the consequences of sin,…” not only is creativeness a struggle against the sin nature, it is also a solution. It is a form of sanctification, purifying our spirits and bringing us into communion with our Maker.
P.S. Share your thoughts about the ideas L’Engle expresses in the comments below. I would love to know if you agree or disagree.
Fierce Beliefs. Fierce Ideas. Fierce Art. Fierce Life.
Photographer, Blogger, Artist, Entrepreneur
Fiercelings, While reading a fellow photographer/blogger’s post about ‘success’ the other day my brain started reeling…what is success? Because I think we should redefine it. When most people think of success I think they think of being 1. rich 2. having a really nice house or […]
You may remember awhile back I was reading a book called the Creative Call. I wrote posts about it here(this is pretty much a follow up post), here and oh yeah here too. I loved this book so much! I discovered it in my church’s library back in Oklahoma, I devoured it, then returned it and I am thinking I need to order a copy of it because I loved it so much. Recently, I shared it with one of my sisters who purchased a used copy off of Amazon for a penny (plus 3.99 shipping). I am including that link here for you.
The author, Janice Elsheimer, has a chapter or section of the book dedicated to doing the work of creating. She talks very practically about having the space to do the work of creating and she also shares about a year that she resolved to say no to things. She said no to volunteering at church. She said no to social invitations. She said no to obligating herself to things because she had a goal to focus on her art – namely, writing and playing the piano based on what I read. In the book, she references Madeline L’Engle’s book Walking on Water so much that I currently have a copy of that book from the library that I intend to write a review of on here in the near future. I am loving these books.
What is the work of creating? It is doing the work. As artists, we tend to have a lot of ideas. Our brains move at 90mph and there are no brakes. We will never be able to get to all of the ideas that we have but we for sure won’t get to the best ideas if we don’t do the work. Elsheimer talks about clearing her schedule and not overcommiting herself so that she can have the time to pursue what she really wants to pursue. L’Engle makes time for being. You may remember my last post about being anti niche. I want to pursue photography, music, writing, painting etc. Here’s the thing though, I cannot pursue all of these things every single day. I can try. But I will only successfully accomplish one, maybe two. So about three weeks ago I made myself a week artist schedule. An itinerary. It was a way for me to stop feeling like a failure everyday because I only accomplished 1 of the 10 artist things I was wanting to do. Which it is unfair of me to expect that of myself! My full time job right now is caring for my little bundle of joy. My husband is working 60+ hours a week and so I’m in a season of life where I am being supportive of him and being available during the small amount of free time that he does have. I can do a lot but the reality is that I truly only have maybe 2 hours to myself a day because my daughter takes an hour and a half nap – 2 hours. It’s a rare day that she’ll nap longer than that. Sure, I could wake up before her but the problem with that is her daddy doesn’t get home until 9 pm or later. We want to stay up late. So we sleep late. Which means I have 2 hours to myself on a regular day. I don’t share my schedule dynamic to bore you but to show that this is my reality and as an artist I don’t want to create a fairy tale world where I do all 10 things I want to do. That world doesn’t exist and so without further ado I give you my artist itinerary:
- Monday – Blogging Day. Hence the last 2 weeks that I have successfully posted a blog.
- Tuesday – Painting Day – I can’t wait to show you my latest work.
- Reading Day – This is kind of a built in catch up day, if I didn’t finish a blog post or painting I can work on it here because hey, I read a page of the book I’m working on. But seriously, I find having a reading day is fantastic for the artist of me. I am intentionally focusing on books by artists or topics on creating/ being an artist.
- Thursday – Music Day – Violin and guitar in one day, yes please.
- Friday – Writing Day – Different than blogging, I am working on a book idea.
- Saturday – Body Day – A day that I focus on yoga, running, or cardio. I try to workout more than one day a week but I’ve found that having an artist day to focus on working out benefits all the other days. Yoga is art.
- Sunday – Rest Day. No pressure.
You may notice that I don’t have a photography day and I chose to do this on purpose. And it has worked out very well. On music day, I was done early and took my camera outside with Izze to get some photos. I am working on getting photoshoots booked. By knowing that I have accomplished other artists pursuits I have more time to focus on photography! Life is good. So during my season of life right now I am being a supportive wife and caring for our daughter. As an artist I am fulfilling my creative needs by pursuing a specific creative endeavor by accomplishing and focusing on 1 artist pursuit a day. This is my artist itinerary.
If you read up until this point, you’re a trooper. This post has been a doozy even for me but I cannot overstate this as artists we have to do the work of creating. We can only do the work if we have the time and we’ll only have the time if we make the time. You have creative needs. You need to fulfill them. You may remember this Richard Price quote from this post, “I think the definition of an artist is not necessarily tied into excellence or talent; an artist is somebody who, if you took away their freedom to make art, would lose their mind.” I know having a schedule isn’t sexy or romantic but it’s wonderful. It shows you take your art seriously. It helps you not lose your mind! Creating a schedule benefits you which in turn will benefit everyone around you.