There’s an aloneness to art. We type, paint, sculpt, compose in isolation. We create to realize our theologies, philosophies, hurts, joys, doubts, faiths. We create to understand and work out our lives. And because we worship what we perceive to be the fount of truth and beauty (a God or gods, self, nature, universal energy, materials), we create to worship.
But while worship begins as a personal endeavor, it involves other people around us.
The mechanical clock, first introduced in Benedictine monasteries to regulate the hours of prayer, was perhaps the true starting point of the industrial age. Timekeeping exchanged the imprecise rhythms of an agrarian world, sunrise and sunset, feeding and milking, planting and harvest, for autonomous, mathematical regularity. It was a boon for business, enabling one to promise and deliver products at an exact time.
But the invention of the clock also had unintended consequences. Time became a currency: trafficked, not received. We make time, save time, spend time, waste time.
I use it sometimes now, when it’s my turn to bless our food before dinner and I am tired or worried or simply can’t think of anything to say. The familiar rhythm of the words comforts me, carrying with it echoes of the many people who have prayed it before me, and those who still pray it around their tables. It brings me back to those summer days at Mimi and Papaw’s, standing barefoot on the kitchen tile, hand-in-hand with the people I loved the most. Now, as I face my husband across our own dinner table, it sums up everything I want to say:
Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let this food to us be blessed.
So rather than read further, which would’ve been much easier, I decided to take the ballpoint pen and lined notebook paper and draw what was right before me — and do it quickly, without proper paper or the need to prettify my work. I did opt for color because the green was so lush and bright with the afternoon sunlight shining through the leaves, so I found a couple of green markers and sat there in the sun happily coloring away, like I often did as a child. Did I capture the head of Romaine perfectly? Not at all. But did I begin to glimpse its infinite beauty, the curtain of one leaf folded inside another, the veins like tiny circuitry? I did, indeed.