I spent the first two semesters of this thesis-writing process attempting to write book reports. I wanted to keep it distant and cold. I wanted to remain unaffected. My program has been so intensive and this seemed like the capstone, but in a celebratory way. It seemed to me as though I could just show what I learned without being overly self-aware or sorting through interior movements as we’re encouraged (forced) to do in everything else. I thought I could just write.
As it turns out, writing is creative.
Writing is more like birthing a series of artworks than I ever imagined. My academic writing has always been fun and easy and flows out of that inflated ego that I have within my love affair of the written word. It’s different when I write about something from my soul; when I write about something that is so absolutely close to who I am and why I’m in this world. Those passionate things within me either rip and roar and lash and parade… or they’re silent and unreachable… sinking deep down afraid to be seen.
It’s so strange that the most important thing is always the hardest. It’s so strange that making myself write about the passions that I hold most dear would be difficult. Strange is the way that such paralyzing fear can well with even the thought of writing.
I wanted other people to say it for me. I cited every sentence out of fear of plagiarism, but mostly fear of myself. I had become dead and glacial inside. I’ve been working on the same series for over two years and it remains in the infant stages. I haven’t shown my work since I left the district. The pieces of me that do exist in visual form sit boxed and rolled in a closet that isn’t quite mine. I never realized how powerless not creating made me. How distant I had become from myself. But that gracious God helped me stay blind to that until I could handle it. I was blind until I was able to- and had space to engage the process, to engage myself, to engage creating.
And this engagement is on a dire deadline and I struggle to be present. I struggle to stay true to interior movements. I struggle to want to.
My art is me (my journey) in visual form. My thesis is me in written form. The lines are so close. The boundaries blur. What is mine and what is not? What was ever mine? And then I learn… Nothing. And the tears come. All is gift. Every word, every photograph, every moment—all gifts. As a tiny co-creator, I recognize that I make nothing… I simply repurpose it. The Creator made everything and he did that out of nothing. What a funny paradigm we live in when we fail to recognize that everything that is here, every cell within us, every breath is borrowed from the One who is.
I am writing about the creative process while I move through the creative process. I am writing about the Christian formational journey while I move through the Christian formational journey. I hope my readers will know that. Beyond the sometimes chaotic sentence structure, beyond the painstaking length, and the utter vastness in subject… I hope my readers know that it was a difficult journey because they can feel it. I hope they know how real it is to write about what you’re living. I hope there’s weight to it all… weight that comes with a connection of spirits that only the movement of the Holy Spirit can inspire.
I hope. I hope I can realize the good work God is doing in me through this thesis. I hope there is benefit to going through this so very hard season. I hope it looks like a flourishing and flurry of art making after graduation. I hope… as they say… desolation ends with graduation. I hope to make again. And I hope I can forgive this seminary season for stealing all my time. I hope I can realize that it will, as intended all along, make my work better and more powerful and more true.
It’s almost funny how I forgot coming to seminary was always about making my artwork stronger. It was always about learning how to make the process more about Him… more about me with Him. It’s almost funny how this is exactly what I’m writing about in my thesis and what I’ve always wanted to gift to other creatives.
No wonder this path has seemed so incredibly difficult.
Not making that deadline means not making art, and that cannot be a possibility.
And so… I’ll type away, pouring myself on pages.