I’m sitting in a living room with friends. A few have their back to me, a few face me, a few sit on the couch reading Philippians; one plays guitar like his hero; one sits in the corner, like bass players are supposed to do; one plays a loop on the keyboard; and a few are in the kitchen getting drinks of water.

I catch one friend’s eye. It’s all I can see of his face, the rest of it taken up by the mouth of the trombone he plays. It’s loud and the floor shakes with people, with laughter, with an earthquake eruption of the stuff of friendship.

I was reading a book, a good book, the kind of book that inspires one to write, and so I do. This kind of setting reminds me of how much I love creativity, how much I thrive on artistry and the skill of making. This kind of setting reminds me of little I do the things I love.

It feels, sometimes, that most of life is doing and not loving. I don’t think it’s meant to be lived that way, but the moment we decided that being smarter was better than being obedient, we chose the route of striving: eating the apple instead of admiring it. And our discipline was to do, to toil, to work hard.

I’m not sure that there’s an answer to all this work, or even an earthly reward. The most we can hope for of heaven here on earth is to watch artistry, creativity take form. I don’t mean to condescend to the accountants, engineers, and computer science gurus of the world: their art is just as valid as the art in this room, and perhaps even more vital. I mean to say that work is necessary, toil is essential, but art is the elective in the midst of it all.

I’m stretched thin this semester, spreading my fingers to ten areas of life and not finding enough time to give them each the creativity and passion they deserve. Sometimes that feels regrettable, sometimes I don’t have time to regret and the best I can do is to do my best. Sometimes it feels like a lot of work, but today I talked to someone I love and she said that these words can be the words I remember when time won’t let me remember that art is important too.

A man’s gift makes room for him.
Proverbs 18.16

So as I strive to make room in my life for art, I can be reminded it will make itself at home in my life simply because it exists. The honor is that is can be work at the same time. And that’s okay with me.

February 2006