The weather in Nashville this week has been Spring perfect – 80 degrees & sunshine until mid to late afternoon at which time thunderstorms roll in. Around 8pm the rain clears out & the perfectly cool Spring evenings take it’s place. The weather I’d have in heaven if it was up to me. :)
This week has also been challenging. I’ve been restless. Unfocused. Frustrated that I can’t grip life neatly in my two hands. But there’s been a reminder in the middle of every single one of those thunderstorms – there is beauty not just on the other side of but in the middle of the storm…of the restlessness, the frustration, the questions…if I will only seek it out.
Yes, beauty in, not just on the other side of. It’s easy to believe in beauty on the other side because it comes to us. It drops itself into our hands & becomes tangible. But beauty in the middle of the storm…in the hard places…it must be searched for, hunted down, & taken hold of. It requires choosing to believe, to rely on faith, & to call on hope with courage.
But, if I’m going to believe in a God who makes beautiful things out of the dust I have to believe in a God who makes beautiful things out of the falling building as it is in the process of crumbling to pieces. A God who promises not freedom from the storm but peace in the middle of it. Who offers hope in the middle of the hurt not just in the healing. Who makes the sun shine even as the rain comes pouring down. A God who says I know the journey is painful right now but I’m not going to let you walk it alone.
What beauty do you see the middle of your storm right now? Have you found it?
“I’ll sing the song if you can play it on the guitar,” he said.
A google search later on a nearby iPhone & chords were in the guitar player’s hand.
“Let’s do it,” she said.
He stumbled through the first few notes…off-key & out of rhythm. Forgetting the words as he went. It was an embarrassing train-wreck in the making. A potential ego boost for the rest of the room.
But they chose to rewrite the ending of this story.
First the guitarist joined in, then the redhead on the couch, another “I love to sing but I’m not a singer” guy, next the long-haired blonde with an accent…soon the entire group was singing. A classic that had high school flashbacks playing in all of our minds.
Instead of embarrassment the ending was one of community. When he began to stumble…to lose the melody…the group quickly stepped in to carry him along for a bit. It may sound silly, but I see Jesus in these moments clear as day. His love & his life feel tangible for just a moment.
I can’t guarantee you that all of those people in the room knew who Love is, but they certainly seemed to know what it means to live love. And I have a group of strangers to thank for helping me see Love just a bit more clearly…if even only for a moment.
It’s Sunday evening. A pleasantly cool spring breeze drifts in through an open window. 12 no longer strangers, not yet friends have broken from conversation to indulge in what, for many of them, is a first love. Some are trying to make it, others gave up on that dream long ago, & still others never wanted that in the first place. But for this moment in time music brings them together.
In a city like Nashville where at times it seems that every second person you meet is a “wannabe rockstar,” social gatherings can be filled with a lot of pretense. You may be picturing a room full of these “wannabes” & thinking that’s no place you’d want to be. I wouldn’t either.
But every so often, you stumble upon true artists. Musicians who are not only extremely talented but who would create music even if they never earned a penny from it. Musicians who write songs & pick up an instrument because it’s in their blood. Music is art for them & art is life. Put people like this…people to whom music is sacred…in a room together & pretense disappears.
Those are moments like that Sunday night when strangers, united by a love of music, become friends. Moments when each artist’s talent is celebrated. When it’s not about a spotlight but about collaboration…a challenge to see what kind of a freestyle song the group can create together…in the moment. A song that will likely never end up on any record or be sung from any stage. Yet it is art. Perhaps even art in its purest form.
This pure art is what inspires me. It’s what makes the hair on my arms stand up, takes the breath out of my lungs, & leaves me fighting back tears. And when I stop to think about why I’m left with one answer: vulnerability. In those moments of raw creation emotions are vulnerable, hearts are put on the line. It seems to me this group of almost friends understands the sacredness & beauty of such moments, & doesn’t take their power lightly.
It’s experiences like this that remind me at my core why I believe in the power of beauty & art. Why I believe that beauty & art are sacred gifts. And why I believe that we as artists have a responsibility to employ them.
“We never noticed the beauty because we were too busy trying to create it.”
I read that somewhere the other day. And although I don’t remember where, it stuck with me. I think it stuck because I was convicted.
We live in a “hustle” society. Like focused work horses with blinders on, we set out to do the work. Finish the to-do list. Create the next great video. Write the next great story. Paint the next great work of art. And amidst all of it we are on a hunt for inspiration which can exhaust us at times.
But I wonder what would happen if we simply stopped.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying work isn’t necessary. Good ideas are meaningless if we never do anything about them. But I wonder…if we slowed down a step to notice the beauty around us would we discover inspiration happens naturally? Instead of trying desperately to create beauty could we more simply reflect the beauty that has soaked into our souls?
I realize that’s easier said than done when we’ve got overflowing calendars & alerts that remind us when we’re supposed to be creating beauty. But I encourage you to find ways to train yourself to notice the beauty.
Then, come back & share your tips with the rest of us :)