One bespectacled gentleman got a great deal on a drum set. A pair of married collage artists are waiting to hear back from a local artwalk show about their respective entries. A young blogger wonders whether anyone is bothering to read her stories, personal journeys culled from journals of years ago. An actor puts a brave face on his deep fatigue, weary from a week’s worth of travel and performance. What might a gathered people need to say to God, a songwriter asks, sharing his constant search for a phrase or word that might spark people into dropping their inhibitions, catching fire enough to actually put their minds and hearts where they need to be in worship. Another actor celebrates a coming marriage and yet, the complextity of change fully employed, mourns the loss of old community, old safety. “Done is beautiful” describes another’s process, the man chronically shouldering a titan’s load of work, a man who inspires me with his grace and kindness and willingness to serve.
These people draw girls in dresses, drum Sunday praises, write dramas and live them, too. We make leather and recordings, do graphc design and music, and blog, blog, blog. We are makers of things, sometimes for money, most times not, and what binds us is that we all agree that our making is a gift, hardly of our own volition, at least not in its orgins. The urge to shape form is a card we’ve been dealt, an ace in our DNA, and we can only respond by pocketing it, hoarding it, thereby lettting it die, or we can throw it out there, play it in hand after hand, hoping someday it combines with the rest our living, our other cards, to finally get a hand that does us and somebody else some good.
We laughed, we cried, we told stories of plays and commerce and travel. We wondered how to tell the truth about our work and what to do when we would no doubt be judged and condemned. We wondered what the constants would be in our work, the palette we would continually return to, the stories we would tell over and over. We dipped chips into cowboy caviar and cheese, made faces and cringed as the host harassed folks with his camera, and we prayed. We prayed about our pride, our hunger to do good work, our desire to know what in the world God was wanting to be about in our lives, and we asked Him to please get on with it, this business of leading us, changing us.
Finally we trickled out the door, one and two at a time, some three hours after we’d arrived, and then the house was empty, except for a wife, a husband, and a son, gathered in the kitchen, and still, the talk goes to music and dancing and auditions and the return of my daughter-actress this next week, and finally it’s time for lights out and welcome sleep.
What happened last night means the world to me. How do we grasp the kindness of this God who masks so much in seeming darkness, in impenetrable mystery? Creation, the making of a thing, the shaping of a form that somehow captures my heart in that elegant move of thought we call metaphor…it is nothing but the gift of God.
In the end, what we said to each other in our gathering was simple.