The preschool hallway at church is crowded with high-heeled women and slack-wearing men. The girls hold on to various parts of my coat while I navigate my way to my son’s classroom. As we pass the window looking into the two-year-old room, an out-of-place image in the corner catches my eye. A man stands still, children scurry around him on knees and Play-Doh-covered hands. He holds a violin in rest position. I stop in the middle of the hallway, move off to the side with my caravan of three, fascinated by the odd scen on the other side of the window. We stay there and watch as this suited-man lifts the violin from beneath his arm, pauses for a moment, and begins to play. Thick ribbons of blue and deep green fill the nursery as the children carry on with their usual tasks — stacking block, sorting oversized Legos, babbling. His music is passionate and full. This man is not a student trying to earn credits or an intern filling his time sheet. He is a full-fledged professional. I am ashamed to tell you my first thought: What a waste of that beautiful music. In that moment, my ideas about art and art-making were limited. I believed somehow the effort of the artist depended upon the appreciation of the audience. ~ A Million Little Ways, by Emily P. Freeman
I went to my first ever book club meeting a few weeks ago. Contrary to the stereotype I had in my head, it wasn’t all about drinking wine and man-bashing (thank goodness!).
We read A Million Little Ways, by Emily P. Freeman. It’s a beautifully written book that took my practically-minded brain some time to understand. But when I really began to understand what the author was getting at, I saw very quickly how it applied to me and my life.
Like the story above, we all have some gift. It may be music, it may be painting, it may be knitting, it may be driving or hosting or baking or cleaning. Freeman suggests that whatever that gift is, that is our art.
And we can express ourselves through that art (which could be web design, working as a mechanic, or scanning groceries). It may bless people while we’re doing it or it may not.
Either way, we need to live out that art as an expression of ourselves. By doing what we were uniquely designed to do, we can even reach others when nothing else will.
Now, this is all well and good, and it sounds very spiritual, but I think our little book club all agreed that this is much easier said than done.
With kids and housework and meals and jobs and school and all of the other things that demand our attention, how on earth are we to find the time to search out our gifts, develop them and then find a forum for them?
After some discussion, what I came away with was that we can express our “art” through any task that we do. Cleaning the toilets or scrubbing grout takes on new meaning when you see those tasks as “art”. Pausing to appreciate the beauty of a pink sunrise or the light in your baby’s eyes can be “art”. Baking cookies for a neighbour or taking your turn in carpool can be “art” — it all depends in how we see it and in how we do it.
How do you live out your art everyday?