On Being an Artist – Deborah Keiller (part six)

by Geoff Hall on April 17, 2012

Day Six -Spiritual Development – How do you understand the need for the spiritual development of the artist?

"Life Drawing" by Deborah Keiller



We were created to behold beauty, that’s why we are transfixed by a stunning view, why we decorate our houses & surround ourselves with images we like. As artists our perception of beauty is heightened & is a critical aspect to our practise. David in Song #27 reveals to us his desire to behold the beauty of the Lord. (Verse 4) I consider David to be one of my personal mentors & have learnt so much about myself & God by studying his songs. I believe we need to rediscover the art of ‘beholding the beauty of the Lord’ by contemplation in a place of stillness & awe!

It is said we become what we behold, if we are to be imitators of Christ the only way is to spend time with Him, like the followers of the Way…watching, observing & emulating. I honestly believe our spiritual development is all about closely watching (beholding) & imitating Jesus. It’s sad that the catch phrase ‘what would Jesus do’ has lost it’s potency through overuse because that is the question we should be asking ourselves on a regular basis.

To develop intimacy we need to build relationship which requires an investment of time, there are no short cuts. The Word & the Spirit are two tributaries that converge in our lives to create a wellspring of life. We need both to sustain & develop our spirituality. By studying the Word and being attentive to the voice of the Spirit, our hearts are transformed & this wellspring flows in & through every area of our lives!



My memory is triggered here by my reading of the forms, styles and instruments that David used.  I think we can take Deborah’s thoughts a few steps further and contemplate the medium of our calling, as I think David the songwriter did.

His use of a gittith, (zither) would have added a different colour to his songs, a different tonality. There are all sorts of allusions to different instruments in this collection of Songs as well as divergent styles, including the Shiggaion, which was an ancient Greek (pagan) choral form, of great passion and dithyrambic composition. David was culturally informed, his work was musically literature and culturally attuned. And so that I believe, is how we should see (part) of our spiritual development in the arts. If we only tell one kind of story (Disneyland Psalms) the integrity of our work will suffer.

Thanks Deborah!



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