Best of Daily Reflections: What Helps You Pay Attention to How You’re Living? Part 4Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
So far, I’ve devoted three reflections to the question: What helps you pay attention to how you’re living? (See 9/3, 9/4, 9/8.) I’m taking extra time to consider this question because I think most of us desperately need to watch carefully how we’re living yet find it difficult to do so. Our lives are so rushed, so filled with activities and information, so weighed down by multitasking that we often don’t pay attention to how we’re living, at least not until something traumatic happens to us.
Today, I’d like to suggest another answer to the “what helps you” question: Art. I believe that art can help us pay attention to how we’re living. Of course art serves many more purposes than this, ranging from self-expression, inspiring joy, social critique, and much more. But art can also help us see how we’re living from a fresh perspective.
I think, for example, of Victor Hugo’s novel, Les Misérables, which has been made popular through musical and film versions. Every time I have read the book or seen a dramatized version of Les Misérables, I am drawn to see myself from a different perspective. I see the ways I can be like Javert: driven, inflexible, judgmental. I am profoundly inspired by the Bishop, who plays a relatively small role in the musical and film versions of the story, but figures much more prominently in the novel. The Bishop is a man of deep generosity and self-sacrifice, one whose life matches the gospel he preaches. In light of the Bishop, I see how often I live for my own advantage, rather than for the sake of others. I am drawn to live more graciously, more freely.
I expect you can think of ways art has helped you see yourself more clearly and live more intentionally. You might have been inspired by a song or moved by a painting. Perhaps your life has been shaped by a poem or a play. No matter the specific kind of art, I believe it can be a gift from God to help us see more clearly, to see ourselves, to see our neighbors, to see the world, and perhaps even to see God more truly.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Can you think of a time when art of some kind has shown you yourself in a new light? When? Was this something God used for your growth?
PRAYER: Gracious God, thank you for all of your good gifts. Today I am especially thankful for the gift of art, for music and poetry, for film and drama, for pottery and architecture, and for all the artistic expressions that enrich our world. Thank you, Lord, for creating us so that we might appreciate art. Thank you for all of the artists who have made our lives more beautiful, more meaningful, more delectable.
Thank you also, Lord, for the way art helps us see ourselves more clearly. By your grace, may I allow art to touch and shape my soul as you speak to me. Give me ears to hear, eyes to see, and a heart ready to receive your wisdom. All praise be to you, King of kings, Lord of lords, Artist of artists, Amen.
The Power of Storytelling
A note from our managing editor: When my children were young, telling stories at bedtime was always one the best parts of our day. I usually read stories straight from a book. But, my husband made up stories to tell the children and those stories continue to show up in conversations, even now that our children are adults. Stories are powerful, and we may tend to forget that as we grow up and move on into board rooms and classrooms and carpool lanes.
What can a story provide in a board meeting that facts and figures alone can't accomplish? How has storytelling improved relationships among coworkers, especially coworkers whose faith is different from mine? What are some of the best stories ever told in the workplace, and why did it make a difference? Why is it important to be able to tell a good story and what is a good story anyway? In the series at The High Calling, we take a look at The Power of Storytelling in the workplace. Pull up a chair and join us in the conversation.