After Aunt Myrtle had moved into a nursing home, much of the responsibility for sorting through and cleaning out her home of many years fell to my friend Ethel. Among the treasures she unearthed from Myrtle’s belongings was a stack of clippings; yellowed pages torn from magazines, each representing a craft project she wanted to try someday.
This, folks, is how people used to do Pinterest before there was Pinterest.
When a friend of mine sent me an invitation to join this emerging social media site, she warned me that pinning would become addictive. I delayed joining for several months, not needing to develop any more bad habits, but eventually decided to follow the lemmings over the Pinterest cliff. I signed up, began looking around, and realized I wasn’t addicted after all.
Because I really don’t get Pinterest.
Don’t get me wrong. I have boards. I have followers. I even have a button here on my site so you can follow me if you want.
But if you follow me on Pinterest and take a look at my site, you’ll notice that the board I use most often is titled: Words, Words, Words.
Yep. I use a visual medium as a means of collecting words.
I look around the site, and I appreciate what others are doing there. I see pretty things. My friend Ethel has made a number of amazing things based on ideas she’s found online. I could fill up my boards with creative ideas, but then I’d just be building a virtual pile much like Aunt Myrtle’s. I don’t see the point of pinning ideas for projects I will most likely never get around to trying.
I’m not a visual artist; I don’t make things. Except out of words.
It makes sense, then, that I find myself most comfortable in a faith tradition which places a high value on words. Sola scriptura was the cry of the reformers who sought to re-establish the primacy of the word of God within the church for, faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17, ESV)
From a young age, I’ve learned words. I’ve memorized them. Sung them. Taught them in the King James, the NIV, and ESV. They are necessary. They matter.
But several years ago, I found myself struggling with a faith which seemed lifeless, and gray.
“The Word and the Spirit are inseparable friends,” my pastor has been known to say. The Spirit breathes life into God’s Word, causing it to be living and active; enabling hearers to understand. And though I’ve stood on the promises of the Word for most of my life, and have affirmed my faith in all three members of the Trinity, I’ve never been quite sure about how the Holy Spirit works. While granting intellectual assent to the existence of the Spirit, I often go about life completely unaware of his presence.
Artists get the Holy Spirit, said Kenyon Adams, an amazing young man who is an actor and musician. I observed Adams speaking to a roomful of college students, talking about pursuing a life of faithfulness as an artist. He invited students to read parts from a one-act play he had written, one which considered the role of artists within the life of the church.
One of the characters, a hitchhiker, observed, “I’ve seen how thin the people have become. A diet of reason has left them with only fragments of hope . . . a dulled sense of human destiny . . . thin, so thin.”
A painter, lamenting the lack of artists within the church using the gifts God had given them, asked, “Where are those purveyors of beauty who dance with the wild one? Those who cherish mystery?”
I am quite comfortable living in my world predominated by words. They help me describe things and make sense of this world. I am grateful for those reformers who insisted on the primacy of God’s word in matters of faith.
But I am also grateful for artists friends in my life, the ones who are a little out there; the ones who are willing to embrace the mystery of God and his ways. They have become my teachers, in my black-and-white world of words; tutoring me about things like beauty and wonder and awe, things which God seems to care an awful lot about. My artist friends invite me to enter into the dance with the Wild One, the One who governs his creation in ways which transcend the limits of language.
Some of us are wired to be word people, people who sometimes forget that life without beauty can become thin. I need artist folks in my life, the ones who seem to get things like Pinterest. I may never become like them or be able to create like they do. But while my attempts at Pinterest remain rather pathetic, I am beginning to learn some killer dance moves.
Joining Jen and the sisterhood:
And artist friend emily and the imperfect prose community: