The most important aspect of an artist’s life is to create the art: to paint, draw, sculpt, etch, write, sing and so on. Indeed everyone is creative in some way, we cannot help it. We are creating alongside the Creator as the whole of life unfolds in front of us. Creation is a dynamic and ever happening process. Yet how hard it is sometimes to start, how hard it is to surrender and submit to that urge from within each day.
The world crowds in from the moment your eyes are open: there are unpaid bills on the desk, the cat food has reached the level of dust and crumbles in the bottom of the bag and the toilet paper is dangerously low. One must go to the shop and restock but before that one must check the bank balance and whilst doing that one gets assailed by the demon Getaproperjob or Whaddayadointhisfor? or Artisillusionbesensible. I am so beset by such demons that I am certain even dear and blessed Jesus would have to roll up his sleeves, tighten his belt and settle down for a week’s worth of exorcism just to clear my head. There are not enough herds of pigs around to cope with the outfall.
But I have a system to defeat them on most days. Prayer comes first and sometimes, like today, I awaken at 4.30 in the morning and reach for my Franciscan Office and Bible. Elizabeth of Hungary is remembered today, 18th November, and she reminds me of what it takes to work for the truth. Commitment but most of all love. Love for God, for Jesus and, especially for me, St. Francis and that love means I have to put my worries to one side, not let them take over. Through prayer and preparation for my day I am able to surrender and submit increasingly to what each day brings.
Living each day, living in the moment is expounded by self helpers, gurus, mystics the world over but we struggle with this all the time. We struggle with it because of our humanness and the pressure of our own passions and thinking and the people who surround us and worldly concerns and and and…
The list goes on and I see no hope if left to my own devices. Surrendering everything, offering up everything in prayer, in petition to God every day, at all times, sometimes – this is submission. When I truly do this with utmost sincerity, often accompanied by many tears of remorse, then there is a sense of freedom. My focus on my work as an artist becomes multiplied a hundredfold.
There is also a sense of being cradled in the arms of Jesus. That He is guiding my life and what I do at every moment. There is much inner joy in this feeling. This inner joy dispels every shred of worry and concern. He tells us repeatedly in the New Testament not to worry though everyone around him continues to do so, which is reassuring as it tells us that our human struggles are understood and acknowledged. Yet if we can just surrender and submit even a little bit each day and then a little bit more, what will become of us and where will it lead?
For me it has been like an adventure story or an unfolding detective story of self awareness – if I do this or I follow here, where will it go? What will happen? Invariably I go the wrong way and end up involved in something not helpful but then when I look back I see it was helpful in a way I did not expect and all this forms who am I today at this moment in time. The clay pot on the wheel cannot exactly decide which way it will be developed or even protest, it is just formed by the master’s hands and will be just as he wishes it to be.
Surrender and submission to God is not giving up our individuality or even our free will, it is more like an alignment and flow and it makes each day sing in our hearts and our work becomes like music, no matter what our work is. No wonder the mystics keep telling us this secret as it is such a fundamental key to life, the universe and everything.