Brian’s Reflection: October 23, 2008
“Arguably, no artist grows up: If he sheds the perceptions
of childhood, he ceases being an artist.”
- Ned Rorem, composer & musician, born on this day, 1923
Un huh. And I would extend that to us all. We cease being an Artist of Life is we lose our touch with childhood. Not of childishness. But our childhood.
I am deeply grateful to Ned Rorem. Not because he was a Gay Brother. Though I have to admit that I loved his Letters, published in 2 volumes. Fascinating Life! But for a name-dropping reason. I was lucky enough in my mid-life to meet the greatest soprano of the 20th C (IMHO - In My Humble Opinion), Leontyne Price. Leontyne never had a “Farewell Concert”, unlike many opera singers, who had several, and usually ill-considered! When she was getting older, Leontyne asked Ned to write several songs for her, suited to her voice. I heard her sing several of them in a concert which she gave in her 70’s. Exquisite!
Jesus is recorded to have once said, Unless you become like a little child, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I have preached on this text many times. Of course it doesn’t mean that we should abandon our adulthood - our experience of years - and be a child. We can’t renounce growing up ….. and we shouldn’t. But there are qualities of a child - and not all child-time qualities are fetching!!!! - that we need to nurture. Children of a certain age have not been cynic-alized – though they can be vicious! They innately understand myth and fantasy and imagination. And my feeling is, no human being can be fully human unless they retain that nature.
What “God” wants (I believe) is for us to be Artists. Artists of Life. People who are able to shape Life into spiritual expressions of painting, music, sculpture, word, vision.
No Christian should “grow up”. That is, not abandon childlikeness. In which we retain those uncorrupted characteristics that allow us to gaze in wonder at the childlike wisdom of “God”, and to understand in the heart the Great Commandment - Love One Another as I have Loved You.