Requiring and Rewarding Attention (Part 1)

shaw02as

About a year ago, I attended a small seminar at Laity Lodge. The lodge rests in the Texas Hill Country in a deep canyon along the Frio River. I was there seemingly by accident, but with immense gratitude. The seminar was comprised of a handful of brilliant Christian thinkers each possessing an unyielding investment in the places where art and faith converge.

Essentially, it was a five-day conversation. Like most good conversations, it started with a question: What do we need to have a thriving creative ecosystem? As a participant in this conversation, I had the sense that I was a part of something very special and these people were here to flesh through ways of making the creative environment stronger, more abundant and vital.

An ecosystem is a multi-faceted thing. We discussed all the facets that are needed to advance the true, the good and the beautiful in the contemporary world of art. Artists are just one facet. One of the things that surfaced within the conversation is the desperate need for beholders. The ecosystem needs beholders: people who know how to behold, to contemplate, to see and observe. But here’s the thing, anyone can be a beholder.

Anyone can behold. When I stop to think about it, I sense that beholding is a crucial aspect of being awake and alive and of following Christ. But I think maybe we have to learn how to behold. The very nature of the word behold is so antithetical to our fast paced, information-overload experience of today. In order for us to behold, we must stop. We must slow ourselves in deliberate manners that create space for silence and contemplation so that we can truly see. We have to push past what we think should be there and we have to look closely enough that we truly see. Sometimes we have to come back again and again to the same small thing, each time looking closer than the last time. Only when we truly see can we truly receive.

I don’t know about you, but I want this in my life. I want to be a beholder of beauty.

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