God Needs Your Art.

IMG_2321Slipping off to adult summer camp for a week is one huge benefit of being a Christian. I came home yesterday from the Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference, brimming with the joy of the Lord and holding the business cards of three agents and four publishers who asked to see my book.

I had a large time.

Mt. Hermon is a 107 year-old Christian conference center, nestled among the Redwood trees, high in California’s Santa Cruz mountains. It’s a place bent on reminding weary adults how alive and organic Jesus was when we were kids. Just breathing under those giant centurions robed in red bark is a relief I didn’t know I needed, like stepping off a crowded street into a store playing Bach.

At Mt. Hermon, Jesus is taken seriously in the best way possible.

In between pitching our stories to agents and editors, we gathered to sing and pray, remembering that while we are all building writing careers, Jesus is the foundation.

At Mt Hermon it doesn’t sound weird when strangers stop you and say: “You know you’re glowing right? The spirit of the Lord is all over you.”

Nor is it strange when someone promises to pray for you, but then rethinks it, sets down her coffee and does it on the spot, praying a rangy, open-sky prayer that echoes something you were thinking five minutes before.

At Mt. Hermon creativity is treated like the gift it is. At each gathering, the person known to be the funniest delivers announcements while some marketing-department creative explodes with a little audience-participation stage art.

IMG_2331I’ve wandered through a lot of wilderness since I decided to follow Jesus, but at Mount Hermon, I finally found the meadow I was looking for. I was perfectly myself there and perfectly peaceful at the same time. This is no small thing.

The good news is: God is no respecter of persons, so you can do it too.

All the creative energy relegated to your daydreams is there for a reason. Use it. Or as key-note speaker McNair Wilson said:

“What if you really are as magnificent as God made you to be? If you don’t do you, you doesn’t get done and God’s creation is incomplete.”

Jesus is the foundation for everything I want to build, but that wasn’t always the case. I built many high-maintenance structures without him, but they were shifty and eventually crumbled. What I’m doing now satisfies me in ways I can’t explain without crediting Jesus. He is the reason I write.

So, what are you born to do? What daydreams are trapped by your cubicle? Need some practical tools for freeing them? Mt. Hermon gave me a bunch, I’ll share next week.

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Help For Creating Your Art.

John Lavery painted this portrait of Russian Ballerina Anna Pavlova in 1911. The painting is on display at a museum in Scotland, and this photograph rocketed all over Facebook last week. There’s no photo credit, so I’m guessing the tiny dancer is a Scottish lass. dancer girl

The image is a heartening reminder that the purpose of this blog and ultimately our lives is to create something so lovely and compelling that people dance in the face of it.

“Yes. Yes. I want to do that. But how and what?”

Author Seth Godin helps answer that in his recent book The Icarus Deception. In it, he explains our purpose in this warp-speed, post-industrial world. Are you ready?

Make art. Not merchandise. Art.

“Creating ideas that spread and connecting the disconnected are the two pillars of our new society and both of them require the posture of the artist.”

The rest of The Icarus Deception exhorts us with the how. How to deal with haters, writers block, blank pages, nakedness, resistance, fear and all the other things that prevent us from creating something raw and good, and shipping it to the world.

Godin insists artistry is not the domain of a chosen few. Think of all the art on YouTube and Kickstarter and in the app store. That was impossible a decade ago. Sure some of our art is no good, but we find that out, then go make better art. It’s a process.

But creating something authentic and beautiful is hard because nobody can tell you exactly how to do it, you have to sit, mine your  internal landscape and figure it out. It takes faith and huevos. I’m exploring that process here.

I know I’m on the right track when I feel like a pumpkin and somebody is scooping out my guts and sorting through them. Some of it is useful and can make a tasty snack and some of it isn’t, but when it’s done, I’m left feeling clean and prepared for whatever carving comes next.

So what makes your heart race and are you doing it?

Explain this.

It’s Friday.

Let me help you blow the last few hours at work with a cool project by a guy named Dr. Gary Greenberg, who photographs really, really small and sometimes gross things like skin and retinas, under a microscope. He also photographs sand.

This is a picture of sand in Hawaii.

This is a picture of sand under a microscope.

#sand under a microscope.

Who knew grains of sand were so singular and beautiful? There must be a message in there somewhere.

Have a beautiful weekend.