Saturday, July 16, 2005

God's Self Portrait

Art can only be Art by presenting an adequate outward symbol of some fact of the interior life.
- Margaret Fuller

Every third Saturday of the month my writing group/prayer partners meet. We met today. And we celebrated our first published prayer partner, Tia McCollors. Her debut novel, Heart of Devotion is top three on this month's Essence Magazine Bestsellers List. (The African American equivalent of the New York Times BL. )

We-the group-have shamelessly been plugging this novel all year not just because we have read and critiqued it through most of its phases. And not because we are living our own dreams through her success vicariously. But because we believe that Tia's story is divine. Although it is romance based, this novel discusses God's romance with us and how that romance is more important and more heartfelt than any kiss a man can give. We believed God moves in this book. And now we see the evidence, since nonbelievers are buying the book and being ministered by it.

Margaret Fuller talks about aesthetics(art philosophy) and how to define its essence. Art cannot be art, if it doesn't speak to us on some divine level. She doesn't say divine, but a presentation of an adequate symbol of some facet of the interior life. For the believer that interior life is the soul, a divine thing.

In Tia's case her novel manifestated God as a lover. In Purple Hibiscus it is the illuminaton of a God through family tragedy. In Eden it is the manifestation of God's healing ability even through death and racism.
The house was warm. I once heard that whatever god a person believed in, that god would look just like him. But something was wrong with the gods in my house. None of them looked like me. They were blue-eyed and dirty-blond. Upright, narrow-jawed. Those same gods I saw during communion where there was no wine or cracker if I didn’t first praise Him and believe that He gave me life. I did until I went to take Miss Hattie Mae, the neighbor, a bowl of sugar for her potato pone. There I saw, for the first time, a black God.
-an excerpt from Eden

If we can't see God moving, then we see nothing.

Before I became a mother, I was many things, but alive inside was not one of them. The Child Terrific in me disappeared after years of disappointments, deaths, other things that ate at my soul...it left me with amnesia.

But I remember that I once was a gifted painter. My paintings were the size of walls. They were so huge. I only have one painting of mine in my home, because they are too ginormous for Dee's Duplex. The others rest in my dad's warehouse in Valdosta. And every now and then I go there just to look at who I once was. What motivated me?

To my astonishment I realized why my paintings were so large...because I was screaming. I was screaming: Who am I? Who do I belong to?

And as I read and review many books now I have found that the books that scream Who am I? Who do I belong to? the loudest are the books that I find God in.

They are all symbols of a big facet in our life's core. Who are we? Who do we belong to? We so called faith ficton authors believe that we know the answer, but when we create a painting with our words I hope we know for sure that until we start writing what's on the inside, what beats us up when someone doesn't give us a glowing book review, or that one thing that we are not willing to surrender to a God we can't see that are imperfections makes us works of art to Heaven. We are wonder. We are beautiful...flawed. Art.

So what does this mean, Dee?

When I begin to write the second draft of the novel that I have let sit in my closet for a year I need to write about why I sat it up there somehow metaphorically in this second draft. Outside of the fact that the novel holds all my fears about myself, my faith, my future, my maternity, my hopes, my failures, my everything wrapped in a rubber band and a Publix shopping bag, it also holds my clinging urgent faith that God will eventually get tired of my whining and get me the thing I want, a book contract. (Like I do when Selah whines about wanting to watch the Cheetah girls for the umpteenth time.

See. It is in these truth's that we find ourselves connected. And without this connectedness there would be no whining, no questions...no doubts. And without those questions there is not art. Because Art isn't just about what looks interesting or pretty it's about finding the self-portait hidden inside.

And since we were made in the image of God...

Let's write on to see what the end's gon' be,
Dee

This entry is a part of July's Celebration of New Christian Fiction. Please click on the link to read what others are saying about the interior life.

8 comments:

Katy said...

I love that image: the books that are screaming. We read to plunge deep into the things that keep us up nights. We need to understand, and so we read.

Thanks, Dee, for this post.

Dee said...

Thank you for reading. And I like that pic. :)

lindaruth said...

Great post, Dee! You challenge me to dig deeper.
Linda

Deborah said...

Thanks for the transparency.
Great post, Dee.

Eileen said...

Lovely post, Dee. It reminds me of what C.S. Lewis said, words I keep close because they so often ring true: "It is in their 'good' characters that novelists make, unawares, the most shocking self-revelations."

Ain't it true? :-)

Dee said...

Pat, it's scary, too. :)

violet said...

Art isn't just about what looks interesting or pretty it's about finding the self-portait hidden inside.

Well said, Dee. I hope you get that contract too!

Dee said...

Hope we all:)

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