Artis Divina - Where Artists find ways to follow God

Thursday, February 23, 2006

An Artist's Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer Meditations for Artists

“OUR FATHER” of an artist

by Beat Rink

Invitation to calm down and reflect with the "Our Father" of an artist


"Thank you, that I may say our father,
not only my father.
I belong to your congregation, and therefore I am not a lonely artist.
Let me think of other Christians as better than myself,
even when they don't understand me, or worse: when they admire me.
I want to be part of them, regardless of my imperfections -
I want to be part of your imperfect but loved people.
Thank you for all the other artists that know you:
Bless my sisters and brothers today
in the cultural world."


"No, I don't have to be an autonomous artist,
or an outstanding genius.
Because you are higher than I am.
I am your creature. I am your child.
Everything that I have and all that I can do is a gift from you.
When I am in danger of becoming proud of my artistic uniqueness:
Please say to me:
"I have created you uniquely but at the same time you are my child
and my image, and that is much more!"


"Even if my name should be praised in the newspapers.
Even if art experts should say my name respectfully -
It would not be of importance!
Only your name is of importance!
I want to praise your name:
When I am successful
and when I am criticised.
When I am working all by myself
and when I am on stage.
When I perform in church
and when I present my artistic works
in secular circles.
When I present spiritual ideas and when my artistic works reflect
you in a more hidden way.
When my work is outstanding
and when it is mediocre
or even below my expectations.
I always want to praise you
And give my best for your glory."


"Let me never forget: Your kingdom,
that has come with Jesus,
will come in unimaginable dimensions.
Your kingdom, that means
neither the realm of politics, nor of business.
Neither the realm of science, nor of culture.
Not the realm of the churches,
and definitely not my realm.
Your kingdom wants our kingdoms:
our nations and enterprises, our universities and museums,
our libraries and concert halls and theatres,
our churches and my own private kingdom
to pierce, to penetrate, to change
with love and justice.
Turn my art
into a yearning prayer
into a prophetic call
into a rejoicing hope
into a shrill warning:
Your kingdom come!
mankind's kingdom vanish!"


"I need this prayer when I am strong-willed
and when I lose my sense of direction:
Lead me.
Create in me a new heart.
Fill me with your Spirit.
Help me not to follow paths that you don't like.
I am an artist.
I don't like compulsions.
I don't like the petty bourgois.
I don't like a pious style.
Thank you, that you don't force
any human will or religious culture upon me.
You don't force anything upon me.
In your will is freedom.
In your commandments is love.
And in your order is the power that frees me from compulsions:
From everything false around me
and within me.
Also from my own fatal will.
Your will shall coin and guide me day by day."


"You know that many artists have to fight for their existence.
You know that they also need spiritual bread.
Give me bread, Lord!
I will cast my worries on you. Give me bread.
I will then break it with the hungry ones.
I want to receive in order to pass on to others.
I don't want to be focused on my worries
but on you and your kingdom.
And then everything else will be given to me.
Thank you!“


"If it is true that artists have a prophetic mission
that God's Spirit wants to speak through the arts
that art shall free from darkness
proclaim redemption
and glorify Jesus Christ
then it shall be free
free from everything that displeases you!
then as an artist I repeatedly
want to happily repent
and generously forgive others!
Show me what is unrighteous at me
pride, envy, wishes of having power,
living according to my desires,
discontent, bitterness, cynicism, superficiality,
pious behaviour, religious law-fullness
Take it away from me!!
Let me be a light
With my art!"


"Thrice you, Lord, have been tempted.
And thrice you have said no.
Help me to say no, too.
No to the temptation to turn stone into bread:
To feed people with the arts instead of pointing to you!
No to the temptation to throw myself into the depth:
To indulge in artistic world-weariness and depression.
That is not from you. I don't want to shut out the suffering,
but it is not final, because your Son has hung on the cross!
And finally no to the temptation to slowly slide away from you
because of my success
And to bow down before the world (and all its demonic guarantees of success).
You alone I adore. With you I stay.
Deliver me from the evil one."


"Let something from your kingdom,
your power and glory shine through my art.
It is so difficult, for we have lost the language for it.
Help! I don't want to produce trash!
Please, add to my art a special dimension
of your glory.
I don't have any aesthetic concept,
no technique, no style for it.
Only your Spirit can do this!"


"That's how it is!
How difficult this word is for me, sometimes.
I have been told doubts are chic
There is no definite truth.
Art has to constantly question things.
The Amen is therefore so important for me.
My sensitive and often shaken artists' psyche
strengthen it in an unshakable faith
that you live,
that you love me
and that you have also heard this prayer:
That's how it is!"

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Placing reminders in our life, to come to God in prayer.

My pastor from several churches ago, told a story of what he did to remind himself to pray. Everyday, as he drove to Church, to work, he stopped at a stop sign, before getting to work. (and it was probably early in his journey.)

He chose to use that particular stop sign as a Visual reminder to pray, during the journey to Work. (Now you might think that all Pastors *DO* is pray, but that is far from the truth, and you’d be amazed how little time many Pastors do pray each week…)

But the point here, is to take the idea of placing something in your life, to be a reminder of prayer for you.

I chose to include this image of a brick cross embedded in a wall, as a very obvious symbological visual cue, but anything can work, really…

Some people are afraid of prayer, in one way or another. But Prayer is really just a part of ‘being’ in relationship, instead of another ‘thing to do…’

Our lives are very often, and our church life is so very often centered around what we ‘DO’. But this is a ‘being’ thing… relationship is about being together, not just doing together… And it is *out* of our being in relationship, filling up our cup of communion with God, that our service and life of doing can be fed from. Our relationship with God needs to be a balance between the doing and the being, and the balance of the discipline of studying the bible, and the romance of having a relationship with God. We short shrift the people that we serve, our God, and ourselves, if we try to serve people and God out of the leakage out of the bottom of our cup, instead of from out of the overflow of the top of our communion with God cup.

Prayer isn’t formulaic, prayer is relational and conversational.

As Artists and Creative personalities, our mental makeup is much more weighted towards the romantic side of this balance between Discipline and Romance. And also, our psychological makeup is much more contemplative. This Contemplative way of being suits us well to be in relationship with God, in ways that other people who are more rationally and logically oriented may not be able to enjoy. This makes Artists especially suited to be able to have great relationships with our Creator God, and we should take all advantage possible in this vein to have special times and conversations with God.

And then, this gift of relationship with God can be shared in ways to our brothers and sisters who may be less able to enjoy this with God… *and* this relationship can be helpful in our art making, giving us insight into God’s heart, direction, and methods, helping our Art to shape our culture.

Relationship is really something to strive for, especially when combined with good efforts, to know the mind of God through studying His Word.

Let me know if you need any help in this area…

Grace and Peace to you…


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Meditating on Themes in Music, and with Music

With the advent of digital technologies to play and replay music, whether it is a CD or MP3 player that can sample or repeat a track passage of any length, or your computer which can repeat them too, there is a magic that comes from repetitively listening to music that is targeted to bring you into the presence, or the mind of God. The repetition is helpful in keeping your mind directed towards the subject of the lyrics, (whether they are sung or unsung, as long as you know them...)
The repetition is helpful in keeping your mind directed towards the subject of the lyrics, Oh, did I just repeat myself...? :-) The repetition helps me focus on God' and God's attributes, which is where we need to concentrate our thoughts, and not so much on what God will do for me, or has done for me. This meditation on God's person, helps us remove ourselves from the equation, and give credit where it is due, not to ourselves, in any way.

On occasion, there have been a few songs that have struck me so deeply on my first listening, that I have listened to it repeatedly for a couple of hours. (And this may seem incredible, but if you're struck dumb by beauty, it can work that way...), and I have continued to come back to these musical pieces for sustenance and Beauty.

One such musical piece that struck me, and made me completely incapable of doing anything but be entranced by it, was a live broadcast of "A Simple Song", from the Mass, by Leonard Bernstein. (Which I fortunately recorded) The Male vocalist had just the right tonality, and delivery, that made me melt into the lyrics, and into the musical simplicity, and the melodies that were slightly and flirtatiously atonal. The closest commercially available recording I've found to that first version I heard, is sung by Peter Hoffman, and conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas:

Mass, theatre piece for singers, players, & dancers A Simple Song

and here's another link for realplayer:
One Minute Clip

Another song that I have used while in the Studio making Artworks has been the song by Michelle Bloom, "When I survey" (the wondrous Cross). I found that I could play this piece of music literally, all day long, repetitively... Sure, I would get a tad bored, but I was intentionally placing my thoughts upon the Cross, through the song. My mind could come and go, in my noticing and interaction with the song, but it was there, all the time, and I could pay attention to it, or get wrapped up in my work for awhile, and then later, reconnect with it... and this helped me meditate on the message , and helped me to pray, all throughout the day. I've not been able to find an audio clip, but here's her website, and you'll need to write to her to buy a copy of the CD, or the song...

Here are some other pieces of music, or songs that I have been using in this way, and playing for either just the length of the recording, or playing for extended repetition:

Gavin Bryars' piece, "Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet", a 74 minute piece formed around a street man/drunk singing an old hymn accapella, that repeats for the entire 74 minutes, and is accompanied for the recording by a full compliment of musicians, and later by Tom Waits.
You can find some of the background to the recording at Gavin's website, under the discography:

Here is the recording:

In the same vein, and by the same artists, is Gavin Bryars', "The Sinking of the Titanic", that uses the Episcopalian Hymn, "Autumn" as the foundation for a repetitively slow changing and long piece that purposefully sounds as if the musicians are playing underwater.

Other pieces of Music that I use in alone times with God are nature sounds, and some of what people call "New Age" type music, that is essentially slowly moving music without words. This might be something like the idiosyncratic, global soundscapes of Stephan Micus:

I have mentioned all of the works above, because these works are very far from being in the prominent public eye, and would probably be completely hidden, were it not for friends recommending them to other friends... :-)

I pray that these words and music can bring your times with God to a different level, and bring your mind closer to focusing on God.

Grace and Peace to you. Paul

Monday, February 06, 2006

What Color does God seem like today?

What color does your relationship with God seem like today...?

What color would you like it to be today?
If there is a difference, pray about this with God...

I hope that these questions haven't seemed silly, but an opportunity for you to engage your God in building your relationship, and engage your creative thought processes, and how you relate to the God who created everything... the Creator God.

Mull over these thoughts today, and then interact about them with God, and see what kind of interplay is the result...

Grace and Peace to you, Paul

Hymnsinger - The Witnessed Word

This is a quote from my friend Gem Fadling’s Blog, I was touched by it…
-And, this is part of my series on the ways that God can speak to us, in this case, through the
"Witnessed Word", the cloud of many witnesses as seen from Hebrews 11.

___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___

I'll share with you the lyrics of a song entitled, Hymns, from Cynthia Clawson's CD, Hymnsinger. The song was written by Paul McCusker & David Maddux. It is a tribute to those who have walked in faith before us. It is also a personal prayer that we might be an inspiration to those who come after us.


I hear their songs
Their words of beauty reaching deep
Within cathedrals of my heart
Angelic choirsReverberate the stained glass windows
Of saints and sinners in their place
Singing out "Amazing Grace"
While in the glory of their faith
I'm drawn to find my part
And sing with all my heart

I know their words
Their thoughts reflecting simple truth
Of testimonies rich in love
Their eyes can see
The mystery of loving kindness
Of chains and blindness torn away
Power found in each new day
The Lord's compassion on display
His touch from Heaven above
Gave words to speak their love

Composer of my soul
Show me all You show to them
The hymnwriter, hymnsinger
Let me know their eloquence
Let me share their offering
Put the notes in my heart,
The lyrics on my lips,
And let the essence of my life
Be a song that others will want to sing

I see their lives
Like tears that fall upon a page
A mark indelible in time
What sacrifice!
Their hearts poured out like raging water
For sons and daughters to believe
And generations to receive
The harvest white from all their seeds
No greater love sublime
Could change this heart of mine

Composer of my soul
Show me all You show to them
The hymnwriter, hymnsinger
Let me know their eloquence
Let me share their offering
Put the notes in my heart,
The lyrics on my lips,
And let the essence of my life
Be a song that others will want to sing

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Thinking outside the box with Jesus

Many times in my life I have been the oddball, especially since I am an artistic personality, (surrounded by literal and linear thinking people…).

Non-linear thinkers, and those who think often in images, metaphors, and associations, all have a great model in Jesus to consider. Rules that were manufactured by people after God Spoke the law were ignored, and attitudes that placed more emphasis on personal exposure to something that might get them “dirty” in some way, over the act of loving the people in our lives were also put aside.

Creative people can immediately see through the manufactured false facades put in place by the religious people of Jesus’ day, and perceive that Jesus was about loving people, and loving them right where they were, right then. He didn’t love their sins, but He loved the people despite their sins. The small list below may provide you with some meditational moments some time this week.

Reflect on what Jesus did, and how you can follow him.

Jesus' nonconformity- as told in Luke
  1. Association with lepers (5:12-16);

  2. His claim to forgive sins (5:21);

  3. Association with tax collectors (5:27-32);

  4. Plucking grain on the Sabbath (6:1-5);

  5. Curing on the Sabbath (6:6-11) n.b., esp. v 11.;

  6. Association with Gentiles in the trans-Jordan district;

  7. Association, even by touch, with a sinful woman (7: 36-50);

  8. Association with women, some of high rank (8:1-3);

  9. Association with dead girl and a menstrous woman ( 8:40-56).

Grace and Peace to you…

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