What’s your image of God? Most of us begin with images from childhood that depict God as an old man in the clouds, sitting on a throne perhaps, looking a little fierce, wrapped in flowing robes and wearing a long white beard. For many of us that image changes with time and becomes less a visual image than an image of character and occupation. God is love. God is our shepherd. God is just. God is mighty. God is merciful. We’re confident you could add more to the list of God’s attributes. We can’t seem to exhaust the possibilities for describing God.
And yet, amidst the array of ways we might think of God, one particular aspect of God that may deserve further attention is God’s astonishing artistry. A prayer of praise by James Benedict captures the wonder of God’s boundless creativity so well: “O God who touches earth with beauty, who paints the twilight sky, who gives the lark its song to sing and makes the desert dry, the ocean wet and vast and full of life both large and small; O God, designer, artist, engineer, and maker of us all!”
If a visual image for God is inevitable, an occasional consideration of God with paintbrush in hand, washing the sky in sunset hues; or with chisel raised, carving the mountain gorges; or with compass poised, mapping the constellations; or with baton aloft, conducting the symphony of birdsong, would certainly be appropriate.
Throughout the years we have been fortunate enough to attend the presentation of the Laurel Awards, given annually to outstanding volunteers for the arts who have been nominated for the honor by members of the Cultural Council of Indian River County. These award recipients and the organizations they serve help to provide our region with untold numbers of opportunities for encounters with the arts. And through those encounters we are offered a reflection of the same sort of gifts which God’s creative genius offers: meaning, inspiration, motivation, wonder and insight. Doesn’t it seem that the artists in our midst, and all who encourage and promote their efforts, are borrowing the great creativity of God? And the employment of that boundless creativity delivers vast benefits to us all.
If you were to imitate God, where would you start? Being merciful, loving and just would be wonderful. But don’t forget the chance we all have to add to and support the world’s impressive creative output.
God has touched the earth with beauty, and perhaps we can, too.