Text: Mark 6:1-13
Everyone is an artist. I mean it. We are born to be artists. Children are the proof. Think about any children you know, how they play, and what they can do with anything available. Whether it’s a toilet paper roll, rocks or a bunch of sticks, they know how to make good use of it. Nothing is wasted. Anyone or anything can be good company for them to spend time with. They even know how to talk to tiny little things like worms. Children know instinctively that they are in relationship with everything else. One of the greatest things children can teach us is not to be afraid. When they play they don’t worry about how others will judge them. Thinking about a consequence after making trouble only comes later because we adults teach them. When they are doing art, they don’t necessarily think about how others will see it. They just do it. It’s the process not the result that matters to them. Spend some time with children if you can. Learn from them so you can reclaim your artistic side.
I’m in the process of reclaiming my artistic side. I am in the recovery process from self-doubt to self-confidence, and from fear of being judged to being free. Tracing back to the root cause, I discovered within myself the feeling and experiences of being rejected. I never doubt that there was love in my upbringing, however imperfect it was. But I also know that I have always carried this feeling that I was never good enough to be loved and accepted. The inner scar is deeply ingrained in my memory that I can feel it in my body. I don’t blame anybody not even myself, because blaming never solves any problems. Instead, I’m beginning to embrace my inner child who needs absolute love and attention. My wounded inner child, who is about 7 or 8, is weeping and crying under the blanket. He doesn’t want to be seen, doesn’t want to come out because it’s not safe to be out in the world. He is afraid to be rejected. My job is to make space for him, to be with him, talk to him, listen to him, and patiently wait for him to come out so we can play together.
What does your inner child look like or sound like? What is your story? It’s never too late to have a visit with your inner child. I believe it’s crucial to look after our inner child if we want to reclaim our inner artist. We can also say that doing art is a great way to care for our souls, and consequently to love our neighbours.
Two weeks ago, I took a course, Arts-based Approaches to Social Change. During the entire course there wasn’t any single moment we sat idly. We danced, told stories, drew, crafted, painted, and acted out. It didn’t feel like we were in a class room. It felt more like a playground, and we were more like kindergarteners. It was a fun and liberating experience. We expressed ourselves and the issues we faced with various art forms. We didn’t worry about how others would judge us. The process was the art, and we just did it.
According to communication experts, 65-93 percent of all communicated meaning is nonverbal. We send and receive messages both verbally through the words that we choose, and nonverbally through the ways we hold our bodies, the direction of our eyes, the tone of our voice, and the expressions on our faces. Art forms such as music, dance, theatre, or the visual arts use symbolic references to nonverbally communicate something about the real world that is missed when communicating through the direct logic of words. Art can explain emotions, ideas, or feelings that words alone cannot. So, it’s not surprising that artmaking and peacebuilding go hand and hand.
Jesus was a peacebuilder because he was an artist. His whole life itself was an art. He embodied such a creative and artistic spirit. As an artist, he always asked questions – why things were the way things were. He challenged the dominant culture by seeing things differently and by living differently. He turned the oppressive power structure upside down by creating a different way of life. As an artist, he gave a voice to the voiceless. He rekindled the creative spirit among the poor and the marginalized. As an artist, he also had a child’s innocent mind. Grateful, curious, and open, he was in awe of God’s creation.
Did Jesus have a memory of being rejected? Of course he did. He was rejected by many, especially those in power. As we heard in today’s reading, he was also rejected by the people in his hometown. Their rejection came from their strong belief that they knew who he was. We reject one another and others when there is no room to explore the unknown. Art does the reverse. It invites us to explore the unknown, and to embrace the mystery. Despite their rejection, Jesus did perform his healing ministry in his hometown. Mark 6:5, “And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them” meaning, he could have done more if they were open. But I want to focus on what he did regardless of the circumstance.
He did it anyway, just like artists create something anyway. And then he invited his friends to do the same: go out and spread the good news. He was basically saying that even if there is a chance of being rejected, don’t let the fear overcome you, but do good anyway.
Everyone is an artist. Therefore, everyone is a peacebuilder. Self-doubt or the fear of rejection is the enemy we have to face, but let’s do it anyway. That’s what Jesus did, and that’s what we’re called to do.
The following words were written on the wall in Mother Teresa’s home.
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
Shank, Michael and Schirch, Lisa. “Strategic Arts-based Peacebuilding” Peace and Change, Vol. 33(2), April 2008.