Saturday, November 9, 2013

Artist as Parent


I think it was Geno that talked about the Babylonian Exile (and maybe Ezekial, Hezekiah, Ezra, maybe?).

This notion of Exile was one coming out of the most recent Laity Lodge Artist Retreat, which I attended. It resonated, in its own sense in that context, as well.

I think if I am honest with how I feel I would say that in my role as a father I feel a sense of Exile.

This sense of exile has the sense to it that, no matter what I do as a father, it is not all of who I am, it does not summarize my identity. Yes, in some very core-constituent part, being a husband, or being a father, it is undeniably part of me. Yet, still, it is not all of me.

But that is the rub, isn't it, though: I know I am a "me", but I also "know" that I don't know myself as as other things which I should know myself as. I do not know myself, for instance, as a "son of the most high God" (despite knowing I know God and knowing that I know He is loving -- it is that old chestnut of self-loathing born of an earthly father's abandonment, and of an adoptive step-father whom was untrustworthy with my emotional state. 

Those questions seem to matter little, those questions of who "I" am. It seems like the more important lessons I am learning are all about who God is, and who He will be through His body. Those familiar with my family's recent patch of "hard times" know that the Lord has been propping us up through our precious community members.  I postulated it was teaching us about intra-dependence (where it was weighted towards the far less "confortable" position of depending on others, rather than the slightly more "comfortable" position of being the ones depended upon). 

Now I am wondering if these times are not lessons more just about Him, and who He will be through His Body. The skeptic philosopher might ask if the reverse holds true, and that when His body hurts us is God not also teaching us something then? 

That is okay, that doesn't bother me -- skeptic philosophers (of whom I have a degree in studying, and a great deal of experience in being) attempt to apply logic in the place / absence of relationship. (Said differently, if such were the position I was In, where the Body acted hurtfully, I am sure the Lord would be revealing to me what He was intending in the moment to be understood through the experience; I say I love my wife one moment and act hurtful the next, because I am fallen, but God is not fallen, and it does not follow logically dear skeptic that just because God reveals one thing through the Body that everything revealed through the Body is of Him.It is a matter of what God is doing, not what can be reduced to a universally applicable universal axiom or solipsistic syllogism.) 

Like with the Jewish people among the Babylonians I feel I am to "make my home among this people, and to bless the city to which I am called." Like a territorial dog behind the fence I feel the immediate flurry of thought which says when I do get to return to Jerusalem it will be overrun with scary and difficult people, the city walls and dwellings in crumbles. (This metaphor which drips with fears of my aged irrelevance and fears of the future.) But this is getting ahead of myself. Being a father and a husband now is that to which I am called, and this morning (like so many mornings) I struggle with not getting to write. Yes, please, guffaw away, you irony-savvy reader of the written word. I must make my home, here, among the heathen, and remember even Jerusalem is not my home.

This struggle -- of needing some form of wordly expressed self-expression and not being able to accept ever having it (even when the time to write and do other things is my own, no longer sacrificed to playtimes and sack-lunch-making times) -- is perennial not just to the artist, but to everyone walking with Christ. Perhaps it is just the artist's job to remind all our co-walkers of that fact, or of the certain, indelible hope that, in another day, we will be given a stone with a new name written upon it, and we will share in the revelation. Admittedly, for myself, in the trenches, I forget the fact that I am being made into the image of "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control, faithfulness, always hoping, always persevering, always trusting, always forgiving, always true, always beautiful". 

And, yes, you irony-and-art-savvy reader, guffaw away: that image is what so often constitutes subject of the artist's work, and constitutes the parent-artist's work when not "arting".