Saturday, August 18, 2012

Dancing with the Muse

It has been a while since I have written.  When life gets hectic one’s writing goes to hell.  But presently I am on vacation.  I am in the NM Mountains enjoying delightfully cool mornings in jeans and fleece and contemplating going fly-fishing this evening.  It is the first real vacation that we have had since we moved to TX. 

Angel Fire was not a destination the last time I was in the NM Sangre de Cristo’s but it certainly is now even in the summertime when musicians from all over avoid August heat, come to perform and practice.  When I was involved in the music scene during my teens and twenties, musicians often came to Taos or Colorado for the summer to perform in summer musicals or performance series for those who also fled the heat or the locals who didn’t get to enjoy such music.  But the chamber music series I attended last night was far beyond those days.  These were East Coast teachers from Julliard, Curtis and the like, performing in a concert series that blew me away.  It was the highest quality of performance that I have found outside of New York City or San Francisco. 

We gathered in a community center with folding chairs and basketball hoops hanging overhead, but with good lighting and a decent stage with a full-sized Steinway.  People in western attire—obviously summer dwellers, mostly over 55 sat enraptured by soloists and string quartets while the lightening of a mountain storm played outside. 

The muse began to loosen listening to Poulenc and Faure.  I am generally not drawn to French music, but this concert was different. The works themselves were delightful, rich with harmony that I generally don’t associate with French post romantic.  But it was the sheer musicianship of the performers and participating in their delight in playing that began to open some creative blocks in me.

I am visiting with a friend who is an artist.  She commented that such music performance loosened the muse for her too.  There is something about the beauty of the mountains and the cool nights, the specter of bears through the trees and nights when the stars seem close enough to touch that allows one to speak of the things that are Holy.

Painters, musicians, composers, authors-- artists of all kinds touch the Holy.  It is why the Greek Muses were considered gods.  It is when all one’s talents come into the presence of the Creator that we may create.  And it is that creation that motivates others to create, produce, or perform.  It is contagious.

God as Creator invites humanity to emulate God’s work.  Most musicians know when they are ‘in the zone’ just as readily as a basketball player.  Most painters know when they have been touched by the muse and so do sermon writers or bloggers.  Talking with another guest, I find that doctors have this same high when working with their patients.  I know I used to have it when I found a way to teach kids who weren’t getting it in class.  That is what I speak of when I ‘enter the Holy’.  It is the finest that I can give, it is the finest that I can conceive at that moment. It is the finest I can produce. It is the moment when ‘God and man together have sat down.’

 In my experience there is always mutuality in creating.  There is a reciprocity in writing, composing, painting, performing—a give and take to a process that from the outside appearance looks highly individualistic. But my experience is that there is always something or someone that is part and parcel of that creation. 

It can be a maddening compulsion, art. And at times it becomes a frustrating job trying to complete it when it is right.  Creativity is as much a part of me as breathing, and I believe that is true for most people who take seriously the work they do.  Creativity is as important to the farmer as it is to the painter.  It is as important to the techie or engineer as it is the musician.  They manifest themselves in different ways.  I even believe lawyers whose work is to always ‘color inside the lines’ find a type of creativity when they find laws by which their current issue can be addressed.  Scientists must be creative to understand the world about them. 

Most of the time I am writing to the reader, but there are times when I am writing what someone beyond me needs to be spoken.  Some would call that the Unconscious; I know it as something beyond the me-ness of my unconscious.  I often surprise myself with the words that emanate from my keyboard. 

All of this experience of the author of the creativity is beyond me. I call it, for the want of a better term, God.  It is the only way that I can speak of this entity that doesn’t sound like Star Trek or New Age mumbo-jumbo.  But it is real.  I experience it all too often not to recognize it as that which the great spiritual writers of any generation or tradition describe.  So many years ago I dubbed this marvelous acquaintance ‘God’ or ‘Holy’ and leaned into a tradition and a history of those who spoke of this God through the eyes of Jesus.

Do I believe everything that Christianity proclaims is truth?  No.  Do I proclaim all the doctrine of even my own denomination as holy?  Probably not.  But I have found that in Christianity I have found a way to proclaim the goodness of this God.  I have found in the embrace of this Divinity the dance with the muse.  It is a muse that allows me to proclaim goodness and to discourage evil.  It is a form of creativity that allows me to be in step with my Maker.  It allows me to invite others into the dance.  Sometimes it just allows me to sit and drink all of the creativity around me. And I can reach for the stars, breathe pine-scented air, listen to exquisite music, feast on home-made bread, and look for rainbows in snow infused streams.  And as one of my fly-fishing friends said, “I know where God goes on vacation!”

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