Sunday, April 6, 2008

grace. or something like it.

I wish my wireless card would pick up the Minneapolis network, so I could relax on the couch and type instead of being chained to the wall while sitting in a hard chair. Keeps word counts low, I guess.

For the past two days or three, I've had episodes of what could simply be called "perspective" - a sense of scale, of my life in some context. I think this can be linked in part to the fact that some (though by no means all) of the pressure is off at work, for a couple weeks, having no major events to execute before mid-May. And after a quick conversation Friday, Becky and I decided to postpone the Rites of Passing event until September -- mainly because both of us have been occupied with paying work, and while the workshop end of the conference seems to have its own momentum, the arts end hasn't resolved. Buying a few months makes sense in light of all that's happening after mid-May, since we were initially hoping to pull this off in June, and now both of us are working on the Spirit in the House Theater Festival. Amongst other gigs. Spirit opens the last week in May, right after my Northeast Art-a-Whirl showcase.

Some of this might also be informed by the anniversary of King's death and the reactions to this shared with me by a few friends. The rest might have to do with stress in the lives of family members, with love, with the evolving nature of spiritual pursuits. That's plenty, it's more than enough to fuel introspection.

And it all points for the moment at the question of grace.

- (Christian theology) a state of sanctification by God; the state of one who under such divine influence; "the conception of grace developed ...
- elegance and beauty of movement or expression
- seemliness: a sense of propriety and consideration for others
- a disposition to kindness and compassion; "the victor's grace in treating the vanquished"
- (Greek mythology) one of three sisters who were the givers of beauty and charm; a favorite subject for sculptors
- a short prayer of thanks before a meal
- decorate: make more attractive by adding ornament, colour, etc.; "Decorate the room for the party"; "beautify yourself for the special day"
- (Christian theology) the free and unmerited favor or beneficence of God; "God's grace is manifested in the salvation of sinners"; "there but for the grace of God go I"
- deck: be beautiful to look at; "Flowers adorned the tables everywhere"

Salvation. Compassion. Beauty.

At this time in my life there is no disentanglement of worship from work or from art. All three themes, all three definitions, run as threads both warp and weft through the mission and the details, and the objectives. Unevenly successful, it's true, and the emerging design still seems fairly abstract. But I'm grateful for it, this grace, in all its manifestations.

In the face of what is dark or stressful, doubt-filled, skeptical, complex, dull, disheartening -- grace is the relief. Grace is the balm, grace is the water.

Someone pointed out to me recently that I'm most in-my-element when it's art as the subject, something I noticed myself recently at a studio visit -- not that's it's a surprise, only that it's been a while since I found myself wholly there versus working for the church. It was my career for a lot of years, that art game. Artists, works, installations, issues of creation and perception. That's my native occupation. The church is a very fresh venue, still only a couple years old for me as both a work pursuit and a spiritual activity -- amazing how immersed I am, compared to the life-long church people that mostly surround me -- they are so much more comfortable with it than I. I'm not uncomfortable. But it isn't easy yet. I can't talk about it to just anyone. I don't understand all the layers, the politics, the lifestyle. I have to go with my instincts much of the time, which have so far mainly served me well. I'm not yet confident there.

Grace is a big part of instinct, however. Instinct is guidance from outside, as much as from within -- instinct is the Holy Spirit as that "spirit of truth." Perhaps the Spirit is the means, and Grace the end. I don't know. And maybe Love is both.

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