Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Feast of the Ascension for Writers and Other Creative Types

Today is the Feast Day of the Ascension,  40 days after Easter, 10 days before Pentecost.  This feast day commemorates Jesus being taken up into Heaven.  For a more theological approach to this holiday, go to this post that I wrote for my theology blog.

Since this is my creativity blog, let me think about this feast day and what it means for artists of all sorts.

--I think about Jesus, who has already suffered death, the fate which an ascension spared for the few others who experienced it. 

It seems a fitting metaphor for our work making its way in the larger world.  We will escape death in some instances, but we should not always expect to avoid death.  Some of our artistic experiences will ascend the earthly realms, while others will be consigned to the grave; some will find resurrection from those graves, but others may not.

However resurrection and/or ascension won't happen if we're content to let our work moulder in the grave.

--Imagine it from the eyes of those who have followed Christ from traipsing around Galilee, Crucifixion, and then Resurrection.  You have just gotten your beloved Messiah returned to you, and then, poof, he's gone again.  What a whipsawed feeling they must have had.

There's a persona poem waiting to be written.  Who is this Messiah who brings us to the brink of death again and again and again?

--My inner painter wants to play with the colors and shapes of ascension.  I envision darkness at the bottom of a canvas, and swirling shapes rising up to the top. 

As I think about it, many of my canvases follow this pattern, at least in the swirling.

What are the shapes of ascension?  What are the colors?

--It's worth thinking about the earthly stuff that's weighing us down.  What keeps us from pursuing our artistic visions?  What keeps us from doing the work that we've been put on earth to do?

--In reading the Gospel for today, I was struck by the latter part of Luke 24:9: "so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high."

I love that language:  clothed with power from on high--how would we behave as artists if we believed we had been clothed with power from on high?

That language may be too theological, too non-rational, too believing in unearthly powers.  Even if we don't believe in a Supreme Being, how might we change our behavior if we truly believed we could tap into a larger power than our own?  What would happen if we acted like we were already clothed with that power?

It's an interesting mind trick, but it can work wonders.

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