Art is an expression of the self—there are as many ways of expressing a truth as there are people. Probably more. Art leads me to wholeness in the same way God breathed life into a lifeless being: it defines my identity and gives me purpose. Without art, I’d exist, but mechanical would be a better word to describe that existence. With art, I am able to be passionate, to define what makes me feel whole, and own the liberty to pursue it. Art allows me to depart from the world of materialism and find value in something rich and intangible. It’s what I’ve been circling around this whole interview. It’s the thing that saved me in Iowa, saved me again and again in my darkest moments. It’s what brought life into my existence, whether it be through writing or something completely other. The art isn’t as important as what it expresses.
It’s called love.
This past Lent, our wholeheARTed guest for this week, Slats Toole, embarked on a daily spiritual practice of writing poems and then sharing them publicly via Facebook and social media. Each day, these poems broke beyond the noise and frenzy of social media to offer moments of truth so visceral it's as if you could feel them lift from the screen and come to life. So many of us were moved by these poems, as they arise from the personal, but point us toward the whole—of the journey of faith, of our identity in God, of life itself.
As a recent Princeton seminary grad, Slats shares their gifts widely through hymnody, preaching, poetry, and sound/theatrical design. They also work to resource and empower the Church at-large to break beyond the binary of gender in liturgy and worship.
This week's wholeheARTed conversation couldn't have come at a better time. After the white supremacy rallies in Charlottesville, we're ever reminded of the undercurrent of racism that rocks our nation—in slow and steady tides, and in extreme, raging storms.
In a world where guns and money and hatred and fear often have such a strong grip, why art? Why spend time nurturing our creativity when we could nurture broken bodies and institutions instead?
Our wholeheARTed guest this week lives out a creative calling that roots her in collaboration—with inspiration, words, and people. As the Executive Director of Rev Gal Blog Pals, an online platform connecting women clergy all around the world, Rev. Martha Spong believes in the power of words to create sacred space and common ground. As a pastor to pastors, clergy coach and author, Martha lives into her multi-vocational calling with her creativity by her side.
Scraps and scribbles. The corners of receipts and the edges of envelopes. Idle moments in traffic. A stroll down the grocery aisle.
Inspiration has no grand arrival—she shows up in spurts, often beyond the realm of convenience, announcing herself to you. The question is not if inspiration will show up; the question is if you'll be attentive enough to notice and courageous enough to respond.