January 30, 2006

Surrendering the Stage

I think it could be said of most artists, whatever their medium, that seeing another artist's work gives them the desire to try to express the thought or emotion themselves.

I hear someone sing and want to sing myself, to see if the lyrics I heard fit my life and my voice any better than what I heard. I listen to piano music and want to play the piece myself, to highlight some notes I think could say more. I read writing and want to write myself; could I write it better? paint the word picture better?

Every great once in a while, I hear or see someone's artistic expression and want to X myself. X-ing has to do with the Echthroi and soul annihilation, but I'm talking about a slightly lesser version of X-ing than Madeleine L'Engle described in A Wind in the Door. When I want to X myself, I simply want to surrender the stage. There are voices so beautiful, musical expression so perfect, writing so wonderfully put that I know at first contact that I should surrender the stage: their expression says it better than I ever could.

That being the case, I could write for a while about thoughts I've had while (finally) reading Don Miller's book, Blue Like Jazz; I could, but reading this book is one of those times I want to surrender the stage.

How could I say it better than this?

"Andrew says it is not enough to be politically active. He says legislation will never save the world. On Saturday mornings Andrew feeds the homeless. He sets up a makeshift kitchen on a sidewalk and makes breakfast for people who live on the street. He serves coffee and sits with his homeless friends and talk and laughs, and if they want to pray he will pray with them. He's a flaming liberal, really. The things about it is, though, Andrew believes this is what Jesus wants him to do. Andrew does not believe in empty passion.

"All great Christian leaders are simple thinkers. Andrew doesn't cloak his altruism with a trickle-down economic theory that allows him to spend fifty dollars on a round of golf to feed the economy and provide jobs for the poor. He actually believes that when Jesus says to feed the poor, He means you should do this directly.

"Andrew is the one who taught me that what I believe is not what I say I believe; what I believe is what I do.

"I used to say that I believed it was important to tell people about Jesus, but I never did. Andrew very kindly explained that if I do not introduce people to Jesus, then I don't believe Jesus is an important person. It doesn't matter what I say. Andrew said I should not live like a politician, but like a Christian. Like I said, Andrew is a simple thinker."

I've written many of these posts like a politician... If I write about such-and-such or write in this tone, what would this person think? It's not that I've written anything I don't consider true; it's that I'm trying to present myself rather than be myself.

I don't know what that difference looks like, but I think my writing could only have a canned harvest (to go with the canned and packaged presentations) until I quit worrying about how others perceive me and focus on being me.

Bear with me while I try dancing like nobody's looking.

1 comment:

amy said...

Freedom feels good, doesn't it?