Tag Archives: creativity

Beauty from Chaos

IMG_0422It was a crazy idea, but I am generally a fan of crazy ideas.

Avery is a retired art professor and an incredible artist, and I approached him just before Christmas with the vision of creating an original painting for Easter Sunday that was inspired by his thoughts of Mary Magdalene from John 20. I could not believe that he said yes. His paintings sell for thousands and thousands of dollars, and I asked him to produce an original work of art for free. And he said yes. How crazy is that!

So the approach to Easter was extra exciting this year. Periodically I would get an update from the artist himself, which only heightened my anticipation. Avery let me know that it was the running of Mary, Peter, and John that struck him in his meditations on the text, so that provided the direction of the painting. He showed me pictures of his work in stages—and as an abstract, contemporary artist also shared his concerns about painting people and working with a looming deadline!

But then it was finished.  Fleet Feet at the Dawn of Redemption.  Even the title of the painting is awesome.

I interviewed Avery at the beginning of yesterday’s sermon just prior to the unveiling and asked if there was a spiritual connection to his work. He quickly said yes and then described his process of creating chaos and then watching a phoenix rise from the ashes, of witnessing something beautiful emerge out of chaos. He then asked if I understood, and I answered that I so badly wish that I did.

But I guess that I sort of do. In a sense that describes life itself—the attempt to create something beautiful out of the chaos. In that sense we are all artists, using our gifts to create something out of the mess day after day after day.

The artwork that is my life is surely a work in progress and a little bit messy, but that is what Avery finds interesting about art in the first place. He once said, “That’s where the joy is and the struggle is and where the meaning comes.”

Excuse me while I get back to work. I have unfinished art that needs attention.

Counter with Creativity

My dad would criticize a baseball umpire by saying: “He’s blind in one eye and can’t see out of the other.” Maybe I should look into umpire work.

I have been legally blind in my left eye since birth. This is my standard fun fact for party games because nothing says fun like eye disease! The formal title for the condition is amblyopia, but the common name is lazy eye.¹ If discovered when a baby, a simple patch over the good eye will kick start the lazy eye into action. When undiscovered, the damage is irreversible. Mine was discovered in the third grade. I may have been a slow child.

But this one-eye blind condition was never a problem. Despite two traumatic injuries to my useful eye (I will spare you the gory details) and ignoring doctor’s advice to wear protective eyewear when playing sports, my “good eye” seemed better by itself than others’ two eyes combined. I was rather smug about this.

Pride comes before a fall, and for me pride came before the combination of law school and my forties, and you guessed it, that “good” eye is now in search of a new adjective.

I do have reading glasses and even wear them sometimes, but for the most part I choose to be adventurous. For example, I now list random numbers on the tip line of the credit card receipt at local restaurants since I cannot see the receipt. As a result, I now have a hot-cold relationship with the wait staff.

I do have a dream, and surprisingly it is not to be able to see once again. Instead, my new goal in life is to own, and become proficient at using, and bring back into style, the monocle. I could use some help purchasing one since I no longer seem to be able to read the Internet, but my new life goal is to join the ranks of childhood heroes such as Colonels Klink and Mustard, The Penguin, and Mr. Peanut.

A monocle is distinguished, sure. It will accent my cheekbone, but of course. More importantly, however, it is both exactly what I need and very weird, and that my friends is a winning combination.

There are several options to consider when life tosses a new challenge your way. I propose countering with something outside the proverbial box. Not every challenge can be turned into something that creates smiles, but for the life of me I cannot come up with a reason not to give it a shot.


¹ Before you feel too sorry for me, I join the ranks of fellow beautiful people: Melissa Joan Hart, Paris Hilton, Taylor Lautner, and Russell Crowe.