Well, for now anyway. Back to the book I’ve been reading, Uncommon Gratitude, by Sr. Joan Chittister and Bishop Rowan Williams. I can’t move on to the chapter on “Saints” before I finish digesting the one on “Sinners”.
I have spent the greater part of my energy over the last two years trying to find some resolution, some combination of what I experience as the call to communicate through musical performance and music education, and the call to discipleship….calls which have often seemed too divergent to manage or even to coexist in one life, at least in this world in which we live. But I continue to be very unsuccessful at finding a liveable nexis between the two. I am equally unsuccessful and unable to walk away from one in favor of the other.
Leave it again to Sr. Joan and Bishop Williams to give words to something that has been for me, awash in emotion and feeling and not yet explainable. Let’s recap: for these two authors, the best possible definition of sin is a life lived in false awareness, or as they also said, a life lived in awareness or half-awareness that a broken relationship creates in us a broken sense of reality — where we believe that fear, not love, is the rational and natural response to the world around us, to each other, and to God. The antidote, according to the authors, comes in the moment when, from our place of sin, we are able to glimpse or sense that there is something bigger than our little lives and our tightened perspective — only then do we have a chance at a different kind of life. Only after our world of smallness and suspicion is interrupted by something we cannot ignore. Then we know that our version of reality is not true, there is more, as Sr. Joan might say, we live in a world “(we) know to be leaky; (that) something unsettling si always finding its way in.”
Enter, the role of art and the artist. Frankly, the purpose of art is not really to entertain, although it may. Music, literature, painting, film, dance…whatever the artistic offering gives the observer (and the performer) an alternate way of seeing or hearing … it shakes up our individual world view, if only for a moment. It may comfort, but it should comfort at a level we do not often experience. It may cause us to remember something about who we were and think we are no longer; it may open a world we could never imagine. But if it does not move us from our own, self-constructed and controlled reality (a reality which is always in some aspect a lie, since we cannot perceive all that there is), then as art, it has failed. Art, to quote our authors, “I know that my frame of reference is put rather harshly in perspective when it’s brought into the light of a greater imagination.”
So, in my sin, I have hope. And yet another reason to sing an Alleluia.