3 by 5

29 Sep

I’ve been thinking about originality and where it comes from. God, obviously. God is endless. I know getting to know God is like tapping into this endless supply of beauty and creativity. But I don’t want to think of it as supply and demand. I don’t want God to be just my inspiration. Like, I don’t want to feel like I am using Him. I hate it when people say God wants to use them. I understand what they are trying to say, they want God to do things through them, to take their tired life and make it into something more, but it rubs me the wrong way.  When we say “So and so used me,” it is always negative. God doesn’t want to use us, like we are machines or means to His end. He wants to be with us, to enjoy our company. Words are important to me and I get frustrated when we throw around these stupid christian cliche phrases. It makes me sick to my stomach the same way the song “Here I am to worship” does. Ugh. Maybe I am just being a snob.

I guess I was born with this great desire to write things that are original. I see beauty, and I am left in wonder and awe. I cannot express it and it’s frustrating. It’s like I feel my own limitations. The 10% of my brain that I do use is not able to access the things I know are raging inside of me, rattling the cage like an wild tiger dreaming of running through jungles.

I have experienced this otherness, this pure bliss, this love, this wild and free God, and yet I cannot write it out.  It’s like the same sort of frustration of experiencing this absolutely gorgeous moment and failing to take a picture of it. Or even if I do capture it, I always say something like,  “The picture doesn’t do it justice… you just had to have been there.”

I always think of that John Mayer song, 3 x 5.

“Today, skies are painted colors of a cowboy cliche’
And its strange how clouds that look like mountains in the sky
are next to mountains anyway
Didn’t have a camera by my side this time
Hoping I would see the world through both my eyes
Maybe I will tell you all about it when I’m
in the mood to lose my way
but let me say
You should have seen that sunrise with your own eyes
it brought me back to life
You’ll be with me next time I go outside
No more 3×5’s
I Guess you had to be there
I Guess you had to be with me
Today I finally overcame
tryin’ to fit the world inside a picture frame”

I want to fit the world inside a picture frame, inside a paragraph. Not just fit it, but express it in a way that has never been expressed before.
The reality is, we are given glimpses of heaven on earth. I want to catch these fleeting flickers of lights like fireflies, put them all together in a jar to make one big ball of light, but they would just suffocate.

I think maybe every artist feels this way, even if they don’t know where it comes from, even if they don’t claim words like heaven or God, they inherently know that they are trying to create something that expresses some deeper beauty and truth.

In “The Weight of Glory,” CS Lewis speaks about this other-worldly beauty that we try to capture, but always fall short.

“The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things–the beauty, the memory of our own past–are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have not visited.”

It’s not the thing you are creating itself, it is the longing that the creation comes out of. God created not because He lacked, but because His love spilled over, each shining drop became something brilliantly unique, things we walk by every day. Human beings.

Maybe all that we are able to create now are echos of the thing it self. Shadows. Maybe in the accepting of that the frustration will temporarily subside.
I know I have volumes on volumes of poetry and books inside of me. It’s the extracting it that’s so incredible painful, not to mention my own self- judgment when it’s actually out.

Someone reminded me recently that I will have all eternity to write books. As much as I have contemplated heaven, as much as I have always been captured by writing, this thought has never once entered by mind. It was like this massive revelation. Letting the tiger out of the cage. Putting down the camera. “Today I finally over came trying to fit the world inside a picture frame.” I am not limited. One day the self-judgment will be gone. I will no longer be limited by the things that weigh me down, by my own lack. I will no longer be trying to create echos and shadows. The real thing will be real.

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