Theologian, Thomas Merton, gets it right for me when he says, "Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time." I have learned these past 563 days, that this is true. I started completing a painting each day and posting it to Facebook. What started out as a year long challenge, I have chosen to extend. I started the challenge with goals of getting painting in even on the crazy days my life seems to be made of. I wanted to learn to be "DONE" with a piece and be OK with it. I wanted to be brave in sharing my work. These goals achieved, 365 days later... and the question came up of will I continue. As I pondered and prayed, I decided that I could still get so much more out of this practice. In The 198 days since, I've realized that I really enjoy losing myself in my art. So often, I don't even begin painting until my day should be ending. But there is something really soothing in the act of mixing colors, talking to God, maybe chatting with my daughter a bit and putting something to canvas, board or paper. On the days that I do my painting early, I can't seem to be able to sleep. My routine has been upset.
And how about the other half of this? So many people talk about "finding themselves." Isn't that the reason 20 somethings give for backpacking through Europe? Finding myself through art? Hmm. Yes, I am becoming more skilled, practiced... but finding myself? Usually, when people use this expression, they are seeking a deeper meaning or purpose to their lives. They look to fame or fortune. They find meaningful relationships, perhaps, or even do good things... but in the end these still leave you wanting -craving something more. There is a void or emptiness.
Meaning is there- thus finding oneself- when we seek to restore our relationship with God, a relationship severed by the sin of Adam and Eve. Jesus is the way to this, and while accepting the fact that He died on a cross and rose from the dead for each of us for the forgiveness of all of our sins is the main thing- growing this relationship as a disciple is what will give our lives the true meaning and fill the void.
So what about art? Art, and laundry, and running, and schoolwork, and everything we do if done to the best for the glory of God will surely help us "find ourselves"... right in the palm of His hand;in the embrace of our Father who loves us more than we can imagine. When I paint, with Him leading the way, I am no longer lost. I am found.