The world is charged

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
   — Gerard Manely Hopkins

I was talking with an artist friend of mine the other day – she’s a photographer, the kind that sees deeper with her camera, and then seeks even further than that. She was telling me about a project she’s working on currently – something to do with flesh – and she, at some point in describing the process and how she wasn’t sure if what she had was anything of consequence, said there was a moment when a glimmer caught her eye and she realized, there’s something here. 

the dearest freshness deep down things
I have not forgotten those words from her mouth, nor that look on her face.
It was profound, I think. Profound because those are the words I am constantly longing to know. To see something shimmer and gleam for just a moment, to catch just a glimpse of the truest word about something, someone. And yet, it was common place. We sat in the coffeeshop where I work, in the seats I sweep clean, with our feet on the floors I mop most every night; and when we were done talking, we gathered our belongings in our arms and went on with the usual of the day. It was nothing necessarily extraordinary, it was not some unheard-of revelation. Yet, it woke something in me. It reminded some words long still and silent in my chest that they had voice and space to move about.
Last night, Andrew Peterson somehow made his way from Nashville to the far away land of Greeley, Colorado, and there he and his companion, Ben, played their songs in the simplest, most usual way. This is what they do. These are the floors they mop most every night. They swayed and hummed and the music came from the place that words have voice and space to move about. And Andrew, as he was singing the songs he’s sung a hundred times, would every once in a while choke on the words a bit, because they were true, and the truth of those words is the deepest hope of man, because they speak to the truest words. He cried as a man longing for his home. And his tears and his truth reminded something in me that it could rest and not be so afraid. It opened my eyes a bit wider and reminded them of all there is to look for, to see. They felt a bit like the Lover of all things looked at me with a lover’s passion, and an artist’s wonder, and said there’s something here.
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Pushing Back the Darkness

Andrew Peterson – musician, author, artist, and general extraordinaire – has this Christmas concert. It’s a culmination of a great many things of wonderment and beauty and it comes annually to a mediumish church in Milford, Ohio (amongst many other places.) The Christmas season officially begins when, and only when, we have attended said concert in Milford, Ohio and taken part in the wonderment and beauty. I hold Andrew Peterson in a slightly exalted place where he resides with a soft halo around his head, music ever playing around him and pen ever moving gracefully across the Moleskin I personally and hypothetically placed in his hands. And yes, I realize that’s slightly unhealthy – he’s simply the kind of person you really just want to be. So, when, two years ago my family and I loitered in the building until he came out from “backstage” (which, being in a church, was probably just some small room behind the “stage” – an elevated area with mics and a piano) to talk with us, his emphatic, ever-so-slightly-worshipping fans, I had a small conniption fit of glee and jumped on the chance to speak with him, half-dragging my family along behind me. We had a lovely conversation, he and my family and I , about writing – because that’s something, much to my pleasure, we all have in common. I informed him that’s had written him a letter, which he said he remembered reading and would respond to as soon as he found time, this brought on a slightly more contained conniption fit of glee. He also suggested two books for our benefit and pleasure, etc.

The War of Art – Steven Pressfield
Bird by Bird – Anne Lammot

My mom, being the wonderful woman she is, bought the books for my dad for Christmas, breaking “don’t buy the spouse anything” rule that is in place for no apparent reason other than to be broken. She justified this rule breaking by signing the tag “Andrew Peterson,” claiming that the gift was essentially from him. We relished those books – still relish those books. They were like some strange connection to the story-telling, music-making man – he had read those words, been impacted by them, and they were in my house. They are brilliance.

Admittedly, I’ve never read either of the books. My mom and dad have both read The War of Art and at least half of Bird by Bird and I have done no more than peer lovingly at the covers of either of them. My mom has, however, passed on to me two invaluable concepts from these two books. One is a charming anecdote about Anne Lammot’s three year old and some toy keys and some choice words. I will leave you to ponder at that or read the book for yourself (or buy the book and let it sit in your house and hope that it will seep into your brain while you sleep like I so often do – that’s why there is a constant stack of books beside my bed – it has yet to prove itself as an actual method of learning things.) The second is from The War of Art and it finds its way into most of what I do most of the time. It is more a concept than a said quote or story – it may sound familiar due to the fact that I reference it from time to time on here, or it may sound familiar due to the fact that it’s a desire and a truth placed deep down inside all of us.
Pushing back the darkness.

It even sounds hopeful and brave and inviting. The idea is this: Steven Pressfield has identified this “force” in the universe. He refers to it throughout his book (of which I have now read a few pages in order to find the quote I’m looking for and be sure that I actually know what I’m talking about before I proclaim it to you, my rather smallish blogging audience who deserves the truth in spite of your unimpressive size) as The Resistance. He says this about it

Resistance is the most toxic force on the planet. It is the root of more unhappiness than poverty, disease… To yield to Resistance deforms our spirit. It stunts us and makes us less than we are and we’re born to be. If you believe in God (and I do) you must declares Resistance evil, for it prevents us from achieving the life God intended when He endowed us with our own unique genius.

I really would like to insert the entirety of the book above because after reading several pages past what I actually needed, I came to the realization that I should’ve read this book long ago. Though, please know before you buy it and gather up all of your children or friends or family around your feet and read to them “this fantastic book this random, rather goodish blogger suggested,” that it is not exactly G, or even really PG rated as to language and such… It may actually be close to R – but it’s a great book nonetheless. That aside. The point is that we are created to fight against this Resistance. We are created to be brilliant and glorious and to, by our words and our actions and our dancing and singing and music writing and instrument playing and whatever else, “push back the darkness” – fight against the Resistance by being what we are. It creates this beautiful image of warfare with what we love, with finding and creating beauty in the everyday places, with realizing we hold powerful, powerful weapons in our hands and realizing that God is bigger and deeper than only revivals and church meetings and giving statements and mission trips and youth groups. He is in paintings and poems and movies and songs and books, even books with questionable wording – he is not to be boxed in and he is calling us to let him infiltrate all of ourselves, and through that to join him in the war against The Resistance – that thing that keeps us from being who we are. It’s beautiful. Truly beautiful.

Yes, this is a reoccurring theme. It’s kind of my passion – get over it. Redundancy is not at all bad.