Sunday, December 20, 2015

#AdventWord #Look

I was taught, and do believe, that the first job of any artist is to look. This is broadly defined to include all the senses. A musician or sound artist has to listen, but the concept remains the same.

I have an artist friend who taught "looking" something like this: 

What color is the sunset? 
Yes. What else? 
Yes. What else? 
Blue and orange! 
Yes. Is that all? 
Is that a streak of green? 
Perhaps. Would you expect green in a sunset?
No, not really. 
Before you can paint a sunset, you have to see all the colors, even the unexpected ones.

Perhaps more than look, an artist has to see. There is a qualitative difference of really taking in the details, to notice the intricacies of what one is looking at. Where looking ends and seeing begins, I couldn't really tell you, but you'll know when it happens. Imagination kicks in, analogies form, art and science take shape under the attentive looker's gaze.

The Christian's eye, perhaps all religious peoples' eyes, need similar training, the ability to slip over that line between looking and really seeing. The turning of the head that sees the Reign of God at hand, the gaze that melts blame into compassion, the scrutiny that finds the Imago Dei in the eyes of an enemy---these are the kinds of skilled looking that a life of love and grace can develop.

Look. Pay attention. The fallen leaves are more than brown.

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