“Do I believe in God? Yes! When I am at work I feel like I am assisted by someone who leads me to do things that are greater than myself, greater than what I have done before.” Henri Matisse
Close to the end of his artistic career, Matisse embarked on creating “The Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence” (Chapel of the Rosary), a chapel in France. He considered it the most significant work of his career, and perhaps one could say that something outside himself caused him to create this masterpiece. As I read his thoughts, I am certain there was something more to why he created art of any kind.
On the outside, his long-standing friendship with Monique Bourgeois, who he met as a young nurse, engaged and motivated him to take on this work. Their friendship developed over time and lasted for years. They remained friends as she became a Dominican nun, and his work took on life and breath when he began designing the chapel. But was it more than this friendship that moved him?
He wasn’t spiritual in the least, and when challenged by his peers about the project, he said, “Doing this is essentially a work of art. I don’t know whether or not I am a believer, the essential is to work in a state of mind that is close to prayer.” He went against the tide to create his masterpiece and he was true to himself in the process.
As an artist, there is something that drives me to create. Recently, a gentle whisper in my heart made me take pause. The simple, yet profound, words, “To be seen by God, and not by man. To love like God, and not like man,” rocked my world. There is something inside me that wants to be seen, yet not. It’s a definite tug-of-war, and learning how to lose is actually understanding that you really win.
When I started working with Denise, my art coach, the first question she asked me was, why do I create art? My answer seemed dramatic, but I spilled it out anyway. I simply told her that If I did not create, I would feel as though I'd die. At that moment, the process of discovery and learning began.
The journey took me past fear, which is the most troubling aspect of being an artist. Once I was able to understand this, creating for myself and more so for something other than myself, for the Glory of God, put me in a different frame of mind. I may be simplifying it a bit, but I think you get the idea.
My art is simply a form of prayer. As I wrap my head and heart around this, I move into a different arena. It is here that I long to be seen by God, and not man. It is a place of communion, and where an exchange takes place. It is where I can share my prayer with the world, and the size of the world doesn’t matter. I pour out what HE pours in, all to be blessing to God, to receive a blessing and to bless others.
So, my question for you is, what is your form of prayer? What has God placed in you that when you communicate it to the world, it is an offering and a pouring out of a blessing unto HIM, unto your heart and unto others?
The chapel Matisse built, was designed with intricate details that were thought out specifically, so that each person entering it would be deeply affected by the beauty it offered. His design was personal, powerful, and beautiful. A display that even today connects people to God.
Our gifts are the same. They are personal, powerful and beautiful. During this season of lent, let your gift be poured out as a prayer, for all to see. But most of all, to be seen by God.
God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people!
1 Corinthians 12:4-11The Message (MSG)