The Lyf so Short; the Craft so Long to Lerne
My piano teacher used to say each key had its own color. Music, color, words – they all come from God. All are art forms and express truth, she said. Or have the potential to. Our job is to develop our craft out of what we know, and to keep crafting until our art communicates that truth. Through music, through paintings, through words written or spoken.
Well, that’s a lofty goal. One stuffed full of promise for our lives. But then God does claim to have packed each of us with his purpose.¹ He is not necessarily concerned with immediacy, though, ² and eventually he ties it all up and makes it work.³
My older sister Nita owned the piano from the moment she began lessons at the age of seven. She was part of the music and simply told its story with her fingers. As children, whenever she sat to play, I sat to listen. She had an undiluted gift from God to put sounds in the air that lifted and fed my soul.
I think my love of words and drawing came partially from the poetry of her music. I gave three years to practicing the same tunes before giving up on them. My music hacked. Hers sang. But I found the same kind of songs in good writing and in glorious works of art. Music and words and paintings all tell a story too big to keep untold.
Then, for many years, Nita didn’t play. I didn’t write, though I kept reading good stories and copying beautiful sentences that spoke more than the words. I kept a sketch journal, drawing my girls as they played or sat still for a moment. Life simply got in the way of art while Nita and I – in different cities – both raised kids and made our houses into homes those kids would remember and love. Problems broke and entered. Professions interrupted. And time kept running.
Childhood pursuits got stacked and closed into our respective Someday dream chests.
Fortunately I do read. I read and listen to people my age and older who are unpacking their old forgotten dreams of youth and brushing them off to see what’s there. I asked my husband of many years if he minded that I retire from an active role in our business together and pursue some of those niggling passions God teased me with. It meant further study and concentrated practice, investing rather than reaping dollars for a while.
“Go ahead,” he said. “What drives me most is having a wife passionate about pursuing her own dreams.”
He only had to say that once. I set new goals that excite me. I wake up early and eager to begin each day with coffee and quiet conversation with my Lord. I want his wisdom, his blessing, and the guidance he is so generous to give.
I do have words – lots of them. They’re written in journals and on paper scraps or napkins. Whatever I can put a pen to works. And I have stories to paint on canvas.
God gives us our passions and purpose; he orchestrates the clock and uses the interim to prepare us, to equip us to do what’s next in our lives. I am eternally satisfied that he knows me so well, and is patient and kind while I learn. And that he fulfills me when I simply practice crafting the pieces of his truth that he has revealed to me in the process of living.
Nita is pursuing her music through paints as well. We share our discoveries and both ask God to polish our craft for his use.
Etched onto two large wooden tiles and mounted on an even larger fireplace at the Craftsman Inn somewhere in upstate New York is this profound writing: “The Lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne.”
¹Jeremiah 1:5; Ephesians 2:10
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