Jennifer Camp, co-founder of Gather Ministries, and author of Loop, grew up in the middle of an almond orchard in Northern California and now lives in the busy Bay Area with her husband and three kids. A former high school English teacher, she loves to write, but she especially loves to encourage people to seek and live out the truth of their story, their identity in Christ. You can find her writing at her blog, Jennifer J. Camp .You can connect with Jennifer on both Facebook and Twitter. She would love to have you join her there.
She walks in slowly, bent over her cane, barely swishing the hem of her pale navy blue dress. This is her last class, the final one before she retires from teaching graduate school all these years. I sit in the hard wooden seat in the cool college auditorium, utterly captivated.
My writing professor, who was her mentee, had been talking about her for months, and finally, after being in her class this last semester, I knew why. Each week I can’t help but lean in, trying to capture her every word, madly scribbling notes to everything she says.
And this is why.
She believed in the creation of beauty. She believed in the experience and the life of the mind. She believed that what we behold in a work of art is determined by the state of our heart. What one receives from an experience with art—whether it is wisdom from literature or a surge of emotion from a painting or a piece of music—is determined by one’s life experience. This means that each time we revisit a piece of art—whether we have experienced it twice or two hundred times--we experience an invitation to something brand new.
Because we are different each time we encounter the work of art, the art is different, too. This is because the art exists and creates meaning only through the experience of the person encountering it. The art does not have meaning in and of itself. Its meaning is derived from the viewer’s personal encounter with the work. And the encounter is shaped by the viewer’s unique life experience and point of view. Just as we are different each day, being shaped into something new, the art itself is also different, created new again, and again.
New beauty always unfolding.
And this makes me think about you, the artist, the person creating the art, too.
Girls, whatever you create, whatever He has made you to do with your life, it is a living and breathing work of art you are taking part in forming. The beauty of art is found both in the creation of the art as well as the encounter by the person experiencing it.
Maybe our art—our partnering with God to do what we are made to do—becomes beautiful when the outcome, the finished product, is surrendered. It is not up to us to critique the art God has given us to do with Him.
We are beautiful by His hands--and people experience our beauty when they encounter the art within us that He has designed for us to do.
As Mother Theresa so beautifully says,
“I'm a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world.”
And I wonder what your art looks like—what you are made to create, with Him, and how you are meant to follow Him, step by step, this day.
At My Girls this morning, I shared my excitement over Ephesians 5:14,
“For this reason it says, ‘Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’”
I wonder how we are each called to wake up, be roused from our sleepiness to create the art that He is hoping other’s will step into and experience, because we are faithful, because we believe there is beauty in us to give, because we believe our own life experience awakes in us a story that can only be communicated through the life we live, the choices we make.
“Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead and Christ will shine on you.”
Sisters, together, let’s awake, let's create art--each uniquely ours. Let's see how He wants us to shine.
[Click here to see a VIDEO of me sharing my thoughts about this post.]
What is He awakening in you, sister? How are you made to create?