Last summer Greg and I played at a music festival/retreat for lovers of gourmet faith-inspired music called Escape to the Lake. Escape to the Lake (or ETTL) is one of our favorite summer events because it gives us a chance as independent artists to meet and fellowship with like-minded people. It’s a place for artists and art-lovers to come together and experience and discuss music that encourages and spurs us on towards love and the good deeds of making more good art. Every year there are many artists there who inspire me and this past year was no exception.
One of the common themes of conversation there is persistence in our craft. Making art in any form can be a discouraging pursuit, especially when you occupy the particularly esoteric niche of gourmet indie faith-inspired music. This is not for the faint of heart. And yet those of us who make art that falls into this category often feel the most like fainting. So we ride the roller coaster together but in different cars on different tracks that drop and rise at the mercy of fate or feeling. Yet we are called to “let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:4) In one of our conversations an artist, Jill Phillips, spoke to this by encouraging us to “take the long view.” She was addressing the way we all can be driven and tossed by the waves of doubt and if we continue in that way we will quit. A lifetime of making art can only be sustained buy weathering the the valleys with the vision of the view from the mountaintop.
When I was starting out as a singer-songwriter I spoke with the first successful musician I could think of – my dad. He has been a self-employed musician my whole life. There were years with lots of work and years with lots of waiting for work. These days he conducts the Disney On Classic concert that tours all over Japan. They are currently in their 16th year. When I asked him about how to be successful he told me that the people who fail are the people who quit.
One of my friends who is a fellow musician recently asked his Facebook friends why they make art. The answers ranged from because God created to that is what we are called into. My favorite answer was from Eric Peters who said, “… if I care at all about my soul, I kind of don’t have a choice. Creating is the me of me.”
How do we keep going? How do we keep the doubts from eroding our resolve? We are not only called and created by The Creator to create; it is the us of us. It is the work of the responsible steward to care for our souls that were made in the likeness of our Father. For we know that “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12) As in art, so in life.
With this in mind I will be taking one step and then another and then another. When I need to rest I will rest knowing that so did The Creator. He will be faithful to help me rise again and take the next step. Because I want to see the length and breadth of my life as one long view that looks out onto a lifetime of co-creating with the one who makes the “me of me” enough. – Kate