Sunday, October 21, 2007

Spirituality Is Sublime

I was blessed to participate in a powerful worship service today.

You know how sometimes everything just seems to click, and the result is take-your-breath-away spiritually charged? For some reason, church this morning was an awe-inspiring experience for me. Sadly, corporate worship is not always that way (surely this is my own fault--a matter of the state of my sinful heart), but when it is, it leaves me raw and tingling. Open to the Spirit.

Maybe it was the music. Or the sermon. Maybe it was the spiritual pulse of the room: racing and excited, thrilled and ready to be filled. Whatever it was, there came a point where I realized that I was crying. There was actually a tear making a warm path down my cheek. I can’t describe it, I could never recapture it, but it assured me of something that I have known all along: spirituality is sublime.

As an artist, I have always believed deep in my soul that there is much to this world that will forever elude our grasp. Even as we try to capture the essence of spirituality on paper (or in our sculptures, through our films, amidst the lines of our paintings, etc.) we know that anything we portray is merely a dim shadow of the depth of the reality that we experienced only moments before when we, for a moment, met God. Who can explain what happens when your soul clefts to expose that secret place created specifically for the One who knows your inmost being? Who can encompass the height and breadth of such startling clarity when this world shimmers for a second and we glimpse the eternal? Who can claim to even have the capacity to hold this truth, this significance, in our insignificant minds?

I’m beginning to realize that this is exactly why I avoid an obvious spiritual journey with a predetermined destination in my writing. We can dissect the physical, emotional, intellectual, and psychological aspects of ourselves. We can take these inner workings apart and reconstruct them scientifically. We can--in as much as God has allowed us to know--understand them. But I believe spirituality is something wholly other. Apart. Surreal, even. Transcendent, unknowable, an endless mystery. Sublime.

I can’t pinpoint the moment I was saved. I’m not able to explain in logical terms the path my life has taken from destruction to deliverance. Nor do I want to. It is something so intimate, so otherworldly, that I hold it as a treasure close to my heart and meant for me alone. Because it is meant for me--carefully constructed just for Nicole by the lover of my soul. Your journey looks different; it’s a journey he walks with you. Maybe that’s why I balk at formulaic conversions and easy answers. Maybe that’s why nothing measures up when it tries too hard to recapture the magic that is God.

Though this is something I’m still deconstructing and trying to wrap my mind around, I think my philosophy of spirituality in art is this: art should reveal, not dictate. Too often I think artists who are also Christians think their art must blatantly exhibit God. “Here he is! Dissect him, understand him, watch him move.” And I don’t think we can do that. He is too much for us. And instead of feeling defeated, I hope this makes us feel overwhelmed with wonder. How awesome is this? God is wholly above us, indescribable, and capable of moving in ever-miraculous ways that defy explanation.

Instead of trying to script God and our responses to his work in our lives, I think it makes more sense to allow our work to reflect his majesty without pinning it down. I want to say through my art: “Isn’t this lovely? Isn’t it true? Doesn’t it speak to you? Now, where do you see God in it?” And every response that my art evokes will be a different one. I love that about God. He is powerful enough to touch each one of us in a million, a trillion, an infinite amount of ways. And he doesn’t need me to be carefully walking people through a prescribed set of events or emotions in my writing to accomplish whatever his will may be for that piece.

I fully realize that this philosophy of Christianity and art is not necessarily representative of what most Christians believe. I’m okay with that. Please see my thoughts as a work in progress, an attempt to describe what I think and feel, though certainly not as well articulated or complete as it could be. Nor do I think I have achieved this subtly powerful spirituality in my art of which I speak so passionately. But, hey, I’m going to keep trying. And to that end, I hope the Lord continues to manifest himself in increasingly majestic and inexplicable ways in my life (and yours). Amen and amen.


  1. Amen

    It is something so intimate, so otherworldly, that I hold it as a treasure close to my heart and meant for me alone.

    Why don't people understand me? Why don't they feel or see things the same way Lord? Because only me has walked in my shoes and has my perspective. And only the Lord understands because he was there EVERY STEP.

    Wonderful thought provoking post.

  2. I love this! It's been something I've been working through a lot lately as I search for, read, and review Christian fiction. How much does the spirituality seemed canned and presented as a moral, and how much is it more evocative and powerfully subtle? Thanks for articulating that here.

  3. Thanks, Laurel and Anna! I was so hoping that someone would understand what I'm trying to say! :)

  4. What an insightful blog. I do love those moments where the Holy Spirit seems to take us away in a special service. Blessings to your writing.