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I don’t hate Mondays. On Monday I’m still feeling propelled by the living that happened over the weekend. What I hate is Fridays. Not Friday night, mind you, the Friday work day. The time goes impossibly slow and all that saves me is coffee and music.

Right out of college I was introduced to coffee. I had smelled it all my life but never drank or understood it. Through my senior year I drank alcohol for all the wrong reasons. Coffee was my emotional lifeline for a time while I put the brakes on and looked around. Ultimately I found Jesus, maybe for the first time, but by then the coffee habit had stuck.

I started attending a small group where coffee was the centerpiece of fellowship. I learned to stay up late, savoring the buzz, living in the moment, belonging. My friends were into all the nuances of it, their passion rivaling wine enthusiasts. I learned to appreciate good coffee, but I’m finally over my need to be cool enough to admit that I have a very uninteresting morning Folgers routine. Don’t get me wrong, I love the good stuff when I have the chance, but my addiction really is as mundane as a habit.

Music is different. It took longer for me to discover it. When I was a teenager and everyone was getting into music around me, I concluded I didn’t like music because I didn’t like what all my friends were listening to. It’s taken me over a decade to see that I was, as a friend put it “disliking the wrong music.” It’s a very humbling thing to discover music in one’s late 20s. I have no clue, so I’m dependent on the good graces of my husband and friends to introduce me to things. If they went about it too fast, I’d feel overwhelmed and stupid and likely give it up. Thankfully, I have patient, music loving friends (More about them later).

Meanwhile, this is Sojourn. I don’t even know what this style is called, but I know that I like it. It makes my eyes roll back in my head and my head begin to sway. There are many other songs that do this for me too, and I don’t know what to call those styles either. All I know is that there is music I like, after all (feel free to jump to 50 seconds in if you don’t want to hear the guy talk). Music is a very deeply emotional, even spiritual experience, so I think it’s fitting to begin with this song.

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I use twitter to keep up with the art world. I follow things like the International Arts Movement, random book artists, and Etsy folk that I love. On my fifteen minute breaks I scroll through the tweets and pick a few links to articles, video, etc. that looks interesting. This is how I discovered a love for George Roualt that I might have never felt. This is how today I came to understand why I keep hearing the name Chihuly. Have you seen some of the pictures and videos coming out for his exhibition “Through the Looking Glass”?

It’s also how I stumbled on Makoto Fujimura a couple of months ago. If you desire to integrate faith and art, or even to hold the two in balance, you need to see this video.

Makoto Fujimura – The Art of “The Four Holy Gospels” from Crossway on Vimeo.

Emotion and the arts

April 19, 2011

I was at a Mexican restaurant the yesterday and noticed a picture of Frida Kahlo lacquered onto the table top. I started thinking about her — how to me she is surrounded by the same magic as Vincent van Gogh. We love these figures in a strangely familiar way. We call them Frida and Vincent as though they are dear friends of ours. They are dear friends of ours. Why is that? Why do we feel this way about them? More specifically, why do we feel this way about them and not other artists? I don’t love Albrecht [Durer] like I love Vincent — the thought feels out of place.

Vincent and Frida both created out of pain — Vincent’s emotional and mental, Frida’s physical. I believe we love them because we feel they empathize with us. They understand and, more than just experiencing, they found a way to express the pain that we all feel.

As an artist and as a Christian, emotion is precious to me. I believe that the division between time and eternity wears thin when we feel deeply. As a believer who hopes for an eternity where all is set right, even my pain draws me, because Christian hope is not the hope of the english vernacular. Hope to me is no wishful thought or slim chance. Hope is a looking forward to something that is promised by one who cannot lie.

Frida began painting while lying on her back recovering from a bus accident that eventually killed her. I have new appreciation (if not actual understanding) of her experience after my own close call propelled me into a renewed passion to create. I’ll never forget opening my eyes on the scene, hearing the sirens and the calm voices of firefighters, but seeing nothing. I now know that blindness is a frequent temporary response to shock, but I had a moment of staring into the blackness and letting reality sink in. I didn’t know that 24 hours later I would wheel out of ICU and go home as though nothing had happened. I remember thinking calmly “So this is it. I wonder what the new normal will be like?”

At that moment I understood hope, emotion, the draw of eternity. I’ve been driven to express ever since.