Tag Archives: beauty

In the Middle of the Storm

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?



When Pretense Disappears

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

“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 :)

In Between

What do you do with the space in between?
The space between your dreams & the perhaps not so shiny daily reality.
The seemingly large chasm between here & there.
Between what you want & what you have.
The gap between the life you were designed to live & the live you’re living.
What do you do with the space between a Kingdom that is here & not yet?
A hope that is realized & yet to come.
The gray space between the darkness & the light.
What do you do with the space in between? The kind of space that creates tension. 

I think we usually do one of three things:

  1. Make a choice. Pick one side or the other. Simply to alleviate the tension.
  2. Attempt to run out of the space in a completely different direction.
  3. Wait. Sit in the space. Accept the tension. And wait.

Number one often leads to poor choices that we end up wishing we could hit the rewind button on at some point. The second often leads to the same thing. Before we know it the life we’re living looks nothing like the one we know we were created for. 

The third option? It may be the hardest & most immediately painful of all. But, I’m convinced it’s also the most rewarding. And even more than that, the tension of the space in between may be the birth place of some of our greatest creativity. 

So I encourage you to sit in the space. But don’t just sit there. Ask God to meet you in the space. Learn from it. And more importantly, fill it. Fill the space with beauty through your art. Extinguish the darkness with the light. You may just discover that the space was not as unwelcoming as you once thought…that it didn’t want you to stay anymore than you wanted to be there. And before you know it, you might look back to find that you’ve created your way out of it.

 What do YOU do with the space in between?

*** This post was inspired by the Luminous Project. Luminous is an event in Nashville for creatives on May 9-11, 2012. To find out more, check out luminousproject.com. You can use the promo code ‘luminousLOVE’ to get 30% off the ticket price. ***


In the Peripherals

Beauty often resides in the peripherals of our lives. We walk past such humble miracles, such as the babe in the manger, in a little village of Bethlehem, all the time. In the frantic pace of life, we need to slow down & simply observe natural forces around us & create out of that experience. What makes us truly human may not be how fast we are able to accomplish a task but what we experience fully, carefully, and quietly in the process. 

Artists are often found at the margins of society, but they are, like the shepherds, often the first to notice the miracles taking place right in front of us. Since sensationalism, power, & wealth dominate our cultural imaginations, we may not be willing to journey to the ephemeral, as the Japanese poets of old have, to see beauty in the disappearing lines or to see poetry in the drying puddle of water. The world seems to demand of us artist-types that we be able to explain & justify our actions, but often the power & mystery of art & life cannot be explained by normative words. 

My art reaches for the heavenly reality via earthly materials. The intuitive core of my creativity, like the shepherds’ hearts drawn to the birth of a Savior, simply desires to pay homage to the mystery of the moment. Lest we miss the birth of a Savior. Lest we fail to glimpse the glory of heaven hidden beneath the earth.”

Mako Fujimura “Refractions” pg. 27-28

Beauty in the peripherals.

That is what it seems Christmas is all about in the end. The beauty of paradox. Of mystery. The beauty of a heavenly King submitting, as a Son, to the authority of His Father & being born a baby…a baby who was The Word, the Light. A baby through whom the world…the universe…was created. A baby with that much power & glory born a human birth in a messy stable. From the beginning it seems He was demonstrating that His presence won’t erase the mess, but it will help to illuminate the beauty to be found in the middle of the mess. 

I don’t know about you, but for me it never seems to fail. I stop for a day or two to celebrate Christmas but as soon as December 26th hits it’s back to the races. Soon I find myself caught up in the “frantic pace of life” & walking past the humble miracles. The artist in me longs to slow & ponder the miracles. Longs to really truly see. To find, everyday, the beauty of heaven in the mess of life. 

This Christmas season, I’m resolving to slow a little bit longer…to look a little bit harder…to ponder the miracles…to find the beauty in the peripheral messes of life.

Will you join me?