A few posts ago, I wrote that the one project both the creative person and the person of faith is involved in is the ministry of reconciliation. It's worth it to revisit the origin of that phrase. It comes from Paul's second letter to the Corinthians. He writes:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
The words here recall the story of Eden, when God looked at all he had made and said "It is good." The creation story* is a narrative of drawing order out of chaos. "The earth was without form and void." But from this nothing came every living thing. The nothing did not make something. The Spirit of God made something from the nothing.
Then we messed it up, of course, and the ministry of reconciliation is - among other things - about dealing with that chaos again. About drawing order and making something out of these shards of our lives and the lives of others. It's about becoming right with God - and in so doing, becoming right with the world.
Plenty of artists will tell you that art is about destruction. I find it odd that they leave it at that. Yes, there's destruction in art, the way there's destruction in any exercise. You have to tear a muscle to build it. It's not always pretty. But the end goal is not destruction. We don't destroy for destruction's sake. We tear down that we might rebuild. It's the same principle behind the log in the eye. You deal with yourself before you deal with someone else. You tear down that you might build up. You dig in so that you can refill. These aren't cliches. This is the work of the man and woman of faith. This is also the work of the artist.
They work together, too. I suspect it is easier to reconcile your interior life to the life you were created for if you've made an exercise of such things with paint or pen. And one's creative work can only benefit from order within. It simply isn't true that the best artists are the crazy ones. You don't have to be self-destructive to be creative. But there's something to the suggestion that those who are most aware of their own need, most open at the seams, are also the most willing to be used by the creative spirit. I suggest that you can be both open and aware without falling apart, and that both faith and creativity - especially together - serve as a powerful means to heal the breaches within us.
Vague? Not really. When it comes down to it, this is about being aware of brokenness in the world around us, and responding with both our art and our prayers. In the end, it looks very practical indeed.
*If it's hard to think in these terms because of an objection to the science of Genesis 1, we can talk later. But seriously, if you can't appreciate the book of Genesis because of your middle school biology class, you've got some personal hang-ups to deal with.