Art and Healing

I am currently writing for an online Christian blog called, Unite based in Buffalo NY. My focus has been on local humanitarian groups as well as Christians in the arts. One of my first articles was about a thirteen-year-old girl who plans to go into musical theater when she graduates. Two recent ones both focused on painters who use their art to glorify God.

Niagara Falls, 1983
Art is, and has always been, a part of the church. It has been a part of healing and worship. This past weekend, we celebrated the life of one of my cousins who died unexpectedly around Memorial Day. He was one of those funny individuals who laughed and made others laugh.

During the ceremony, another cousin who is part of a band, accompanied the band's singer on Amazing Grace and Lay My life Down, two songs that fit the ceremony perfectly. I have turned up the radio, or replayed a song that touched me when I went through a hard time.

There are other times in which a painting or photograph has caught my attention, and allowed a piece of my heart to heal. It is one of the amazing things art does for us.

Sometimes, I think the Protestant church, especially the more conservative end of that branch, tends to ignore all art save music. Some of this, I believe, comes from the fact that music is invisible and portable. Unlike paintings and sculpture, which can be seen, and are often cumbersome, music can be sung like poetry can be recited.

It is those deep muscle memories (like riding a bike) that makes items such as music and literature so wonderful. The process of remembering and repetition brings the thoughts and feelings out of the esoteric and into the practical when we connect words from a song or a novel into our everyday lives.

It takes patience to appreciate art whether it is music, book, drama, painting or dance. Those who practice the art regularly, especially those movements that are memorized, can internalize what is played or recited. Through that repetition, they learn more about the artist who created the item, and through learning appreciate it more.

Like art, healing takes time. It isn't a one-time only deal, but a continual process through life. My Mommom and Poppop have been dead for almost twenty years now; time makes the pain easier to deal with, but it never fully heals the loss.

My hope, my prayer, is that conservative Christianity would learn the power of art both as an avenue to heal, and an avenue to worship. We need artists who think and feel deeply to express those emotions, desires and thoughts that others don't consider. When we push art away, we don't save money or emotions, but we lose something intangible, something that cannot be counted in monetary value or emotional well-being. We lose something that drives us closer to our Creator.


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