Those of you that know me on any real level at all, are probably at least somewhat cognizant of the fact that I am not a singer. Like at all. This isn’t false modesty; I genuinely suck when it comes to producing or recreating any form of tonal variation. It’s just not something I excel at. This would be fine, except the vast majority of churches out there seem to feel singing is the end all/be all of Worship.
“I’d like to worship God, please.”
“Sing a song!”
“That’s not really what I had in mind… I like writing… Can I write?”
“Sure! Write a song!”
“But I… Okay, listen… I want to tell God I’m a big fan of his, but without the use of major keys or a rhyme scheme.”
“…Tithing is a form of worship.”
“I should go.”
That was basically my experience of church every Sunday for the vast majority of my life. Initially it made me frustrated and angry, but eventually I came to accept it as the general state of things. Now, when everyone at church is standing and singing words off a screen, I am sitting and scribbling thoughts in a journal. If God put me on this Earth to write, then writing is the best that I can offer him.
When I was a lad, I began to wonder why it is that everyone stressed worship as being important. I couldn’t figure out why it was such a big deal… People told me that we were created to worship, but I didn’t get that either. It made God seem so small… Like he created an entire species of people just to tell him how cool he is. One day I was driving to school on the interstate. I had been pondering this notion and I came around a curve just as the sun broke out from behind a cloud. The cloud cast shadows that rays of sunshine danced between, warming my skin and making the trees come verdantly alive. From nowhere, a voice in the back of my head spoke.
“You don’t worship because I need you to… You worship because you’re not complete without it.”
From that moment, my take on worship and what it is began to grow. Up until that point, I assumed that what the Church had been indirectly telling me was true… Singing was basically the only way to worship God. Moments after the above epiphany, I began to realize that everything can be worship. Essentially, worship is simply doing an act and dedicating the effort and the result to God. So… I could write stories and it could be worship. I could paint pictures. I could photoshop photographs. I could doodle, jump rope, perform a play, do research, go shopping, smoke a cigar, have a beer and all of it could be considered an act of worship if I were to be deliberate about the way in which I did it.
So I started experimenting with the notion. I began working harder at the art that was required for class. I started trying to occasionally pray as I did it. I would attempt to consult with God for a critique. And the work that began to come out of this process began to grow larger than myself. People started to find connection to something within… Some people found a little glimpse of meaning. This was worship, wild and untethered and I think exactly what it was meant for.
During the Deep Silence I largely stepped away from everything. Similar to my writing, I only ever tried to make art when I felt like it which was less and less frequently. I’ve basically assumed that if I can make myself write, I can make myself do pretty much anything I want… Including art.
So, for the first time in a really long time, I attempted to create art. While Leah was sitting on babies during the first church service, I went out with my camera and started taking some pictures. They’re not anything great, but the act of looking at the world with an artistic eye was a welcome return. In hindsight, I do wish I had been more intentional about the pictures I took. I feel I was too passive. Instead of finding ways of making the ordinary look beautiful, I just went looking for beautiful. Nothing wrong with that approach, but it just felt a little too cut and dry for me. Ah well… There’s always next weekend…