But he could no longer disbelieve in the reality of love, since God Himself had loved his individual soul with divine love from all eternity. Gradually, as his soul was enriched with spiritual knowledge, he saw the whole world forming one vast symmetrical expression of God's power and love. (4.1.9)
-- Students as Artists of Life --
Over the last few months, I have experimented with the thought of striving to be an artist of my own life. This is working well for me. Along the way, I have realized how important this concept is to life at Episcopal. Now as we begin a new school year together, I want to share that message with you.
Talking (or writing) of artistry and love in public does not come naturally or quickly to guys like me. Whispering and low tones are the venues for most of us when love is called forth. Here, in my eighth year at Episcopal and 16th year working in education, the love of God that is palpable at Episcopal School of Baton Rouge pushes me to overcome my “bro-ness” and bring love to light. In the quote above, James Joyce reminds us that we can “no longer disbelieve in the reality of love, since God Himself” has loved our “individual soul with divine love from all eternity.”
Making a commitment to conduct myself as an artist in my daily work never fails to bring me my most enjoyable, productive and kind days. There is something about thinking of myself as an artist of life—or artist of the day--that naturally uplifts my spirits and my conduct. A day seems to go better when I say to myself “Be an artist today” as I leave the car.
Being at Episcopal School of Baton Rouge among our students, colleagues, parents and community members has engendered my thinking about the artistry in us all. In no small way, the Arts Department at Episcopal has brought me closer to the importance of artistry in general. What I used to see as a moat between artists and the rest of us, first became a thin line and, now, has dissolved into a boundary-less, free flowing appreciation of the artistry of life in all of its forms.
As I deepen my focus on this concept, I have come to see the artistry of teachers, coaches and the rest of us on campus expressed in the caring necessary to help students develop well. Through the self-reinforcing stance of my colleagues, I see standards of academic rigor blending completely with student satisfaction in co-curricular activities from the English classroom to the stage and from the athletic field to the robotics lab and the ceramics studio to the Chapel. As the quote above from James Joyce implies, as our souls are “enriched with spiritual knowledge” the world around us becomes “one vast symmetrical expression of God’s power and love.”
In each of the past few years, the school has purchased three works of art from three students - - one from each division. These masterpieces, which are bargains for the school, now hang in the VPAC entry ways, reminding me that all Episcopal students are, in the narrow interpretation of the word, real artists. But, here is the broader motivating thought: Perhaps without thinking of it in just these terms, we are called not only to be artists of life ourselves, but to nurture each student to become the artist of his or her own life. I believe that, the more adults model artistry in their own lives, the more meaningful the students’ experiences at our school will be.
For most of us, art comes from rising above the ordinary and mundane to express a unique and significant point of view. Drawing it, saying it, doing it, making it, reacting to it in just the right way is part of artistry. Artistry changes with the artist. Art is cumulative with each piece building upon the past productions. Working on our lives, as an artist might work on a canvas or a song, allows our souls to be “enriched with spiritual knowledge,” that is both uplifting and rewarding. What more accurate description is there of our Episcopal School of Baton Rouge community?
Parents, students, teachers, coaches, “admins” (as people like me are so respectfully called), Board members, friends, donors, and alumni---please join me in embracing your own artistry. In particular, please join in helping our students become artists of their own lives. What a worthy cause!
And, guys, every now and then talk of love in public. It is okay.