Thursday, November 4, 2010


Ever since my daughter was a baby I have taped a quote from a Rumi poem inside my kitchen cabinets. Finally after our last move it disappeared. By then it was so tattered, so memorized, it had become a personal mission statement. More elegantly: my passion.

"...Let the beauty we love be the beauty we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground."
~ Rumi

I believe I am made in the image of a God whose beauty I have barely begun to fathom. I believe being made like Him has, by definition, made me a creator, too. More tenderly, it also makes me lovely.

I am, in all honesty, transfixed by the beauty of God. It is both my obsession and my comfort. He is the embodiment of beautiful. And for me to be like Him is for me to be beautiful, too. Kindness, justice, being faithful, true, slow to anger, enjoyment, forgiving, giving and living life - those are all jewels from the palette He uses to create within us.

Sometimes my purest worship is getting up again at 3 am and changing sheets and covering a little child's embarrassment, sometimes it's doing another load of laundry when the cycle never ends; every day the way I kneel and kiss the ground are not just my acts of worship and service - I believe with all my heart that they are lovely. It is my love letter back to God. It is my relinquishment to be beautiful and beautified.

And even more deeply, it is artistry. Because in my choices to do so, I am creating lives; a family; an existence that is the essence of art at it's very core. Because of the way I kneel, who I know I am when I surrender cannot both reject my identity and be conscious of the tremendous act of co-creation. Life creates life and beauty catalyzes beauty.

My friend wrote to me about this poem, completely unaware (I think) of the role it has played in my kitchen and mind. She wrote to me, though, the first lines of the poem, as well:

"Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don't open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be the beauty we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground."

By opening these doors to this new site I choose that. I choose to play the instrument I have been handed. Words are both mesmerizing and terrifying to me. But whatever I put my hand to - be it teaching and the dynamism of a university campus that invigorates and inspires me, or the artistry I put to a butternut squash soup nuanced with love and curry, or the run I take in the morning to make the mind-body-spirit fusion that enables me to know my spirit and my bodily choices are not separated - I refuse to abdicate the role of artist to only those who have something to hang, or are published, to show for it. I refuse to define it by fear, scale or uncertainty.

Our lives are our art. And the way we live it is not the bottom line of what makes us an artist. It's who we are creating with that does that.

The beauty we love, is the beauty we do. And we worship Him when we call ourselves artists.

{I have been pursuing a discussion about this with a small group of artists. The thoughts that are here are, in part, thanks to them. This embedded Ted Talk is a part of our ongoing discussion and my piece here is my response to the idea of being an artist connected to the eternal.}

I am also participating in this:


Anonymous said...

Just a quick drop-by to say hello and I've found you ;)

emily wierenga said...

i started to cry when i read your post because i'm so glad to have found you. well, i'm glad you found me so i could find you, friend, and fellow beauty-seeker. that rumi quote? it's the one i have below my signature on my emails. i live by it. i'm so, so glad you linked. and so glad to have met you. :)

Kati patrianoceu said...

The commitment you describe here should be the commitment of all of us who write and create in any form. Thank you for sharing your vision - it is a great reminder to me - and enjoy the journey on this site!

alittlebitograce said...

i'm no artist of paint and line, but of broken words and food. when you spoke of life as art, especially laundry and soup, it spoke to me, for this is my life as mommy. thank you for such beautiful words. :)

Misha Leigh. said...

alittlebitograce ~ Thank you for telling me that. I was so hoping it came across that way and said (what I believe) that mothering is beautiful art!

Kati ~ Thank you, that's encouraging!

Shanna ~ I'm glad you did!

And those of you not reading Emily's blog (above) - you should! It's stunning.