The role of the artist in society is unique. Unlike bankers, teachers, police officers, senators, doctors, or professors, artists stand at the margins of society and write poetry and prose rife with metaphor and images as a kind of prophetic voice, hopefully with a vision of truth and love. This vision can empower community, uplifting the vulnerable, and provide a newfound hope for a better life for all. The artist has the power to bend language to her will to get “between the lines” of poetry to allow what the Bible calls “true religion” to emerge. With this perspective, there is beauty, clarity, and pure advocacy.
Never mind that this child is in a different country than the one for which we have been approved. Never mind that moving forward with this child will mean redoing much of our paperwork, once again driving around to banks, doctor’s offices, police departments, and myriad government buildings to get new documents printed, notarized, and certified. My friend Jill has a song that sings, “And then out of nothing, it’s telling me something I didn’t know that I knew.” There is a mysterious kind of knowing that can happen to a person, and it seems all the more sweet and supernatural when it comes to your life partner in the same time and space.
Like any matter of taste, reading well is an exercise in preference, but as I consider the discovery of most of my favorite and abiding titles, I find that each one either came from following a strong writer, mimicking a good reader, or trusting a well-regarded “leader.” And, more often than not, the best of the best cross-check against all three!
So, this winter, I’m finding it worthwhile — even necessary — to name the things that are saving my life. Sometimes I scribble down a list in my journal (a gift from my sister last Christmas, and itself a lifesaver). Sometimes I take the time to write a blog post, with pictures of those purple tulips or a brave blue winter sky. Most often, I’m trading daily texts with my friend Laura, both of us doing our best to find and name the things that are saving our lives. The act of naming them often becomes a lifesaver, a welcome glimpse into the brighter side of this world.
It was the hardest assignment I’ve ever been given. It had to be a certain length. It had to work musically with the tone of the visuals. It had to comment on what was going on onscreen without describing it, so it had to add subtext. I loved the challenge, and I’m still really happy with the final product. Auden claimed to have written a poem in every meter style that had ever existed. And if someone came up with one he hadn’t heard of before, he’d write it down and try to create a new poem in that meter. Pure craft, right?