Friday, April 17, 2015
Postcards from Heaven
Have you ever come across an unspoken feeling that people who like to spend time reading or writing are time wasters? Perhaps loved-ones have rolled their eyes when they've seen that you're still reading your novel. During the years I was writing fiction, I've experienced polite and unintentional brush-offs. They come from the type of people who seem to believe that as it's a short life, there are more important things to occupy ourselves with than entertainment.
'I don't have the time to read novels, but all the best to you.'
I've seen missionaries, social activists and people in helping capacities rush around me, doing an excellent job of making this world a better place. When you get the implicit message that what you love to do is a sideline sort of occupation, you may start to wonder about its value.
But here's a fresh way of regarding the subject which appeals to me. Books and other output from creative folk are like signposts pointing toward a far-off destination, or postcards from heaven. When we are moved by paintings, novels or musical compositions, it's more than just the artist's work itself getting into our hearts. It's like a message from a home we've forgotten about.
This is similar to how a character from a novel on my shelf expresses it. 'All of us are meaning seekers. We approach every painting, novel, film, symphony or ballet unconsciously hoping that it will move us one step further on the journey toward answering the question, 'Why am I here?' The character is a musicologist named Liam Cudder. The novel is 'Chasing Francis' by Ian Morgan Cron.
The characters in the novel delve even deeper into the subject. Here is my paraphrased summary of their conversation. We post-modern people face a dilemma. Our hearts long to find ultimate meaning, while our critical minds have been trained to believe it doesn't exist. We are homesick wanderers with no home. Creative acts of beauty are far more than distractions without much substance. The arts and literature point us toward a heavenly country we have not yet visited but long to find. Those who create art, music or stories may not realise it, but they help people see or hear beyond the immediate to the eternal.
Perhaps the artistic mind is as valuable as the practical or scientific. And perhaps the artistic mind catches snatches of the nature of God in its own valuable way. So let's keep reading books and sharing them with others. And let's not be too shamefaced or reticent to express what we can in our own way, whether it's written word, painted image or musical note. You never know who may find it to a be a postcard from heaven.