Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Urban, artist monks...

In Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novel "The Idiot" he predicts that beauty will save the world. Commenting on this line, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn imagined that "...If the too obvious, too straight branches of Truth and Good are crushed or amputated and cannot reach the light," then "perhaps the whimsical, unpredictable, unexpected branches of Beauty will make their way through and soar up to that very place and in this way perform the work of all three."

In Seattle there is a church that is too small for their building. So they share it with 2 other congregations and opened their classrooms to various organizations and music groups to rent or use. But in one small corner of the building, tucked away behind the pulpit and the stage, in a converted sound room is an artist studio. The church trades space for art. 3 artists make this little discarded piece of space...a creative womb.

"When artists discover as children that they have inappropriate responses to events around them, they also find, as they learn to trust those responses, that these oddities are what constitute their value to others."-Kathleen Norris, The Cloister Walk
"Many poets are not poets for the same reason that many religious men are not saints: they never succeed in being themselves. They never get round to being the particular poet or particular monk that they are intended to be by God." "In order to become myself I must cease to be what I always thought I wanted to be." (Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation)

When I saw this partnership going on...I knew I had found one of my dreams being worked out in reality...artists and mission, blending together in a very unique collaborative initiative that fosters artistic expression and church mission. One of my dreams for Jacob's Well and reasons for being in a economically challenged area is to foster a creative, artistic, redemptive presence. I have always envisioned urban artist monks doing mission in a communal way in our neighborhood. Seeing this church embodying a way to foster that partnership, added fuel to my dreams.
Beauty is truth, truth beauty---that is all ye need to know on earth, and all ye need to know -Keats

This will be, Lord willing, my next ministry mission focus..
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