A few days ago I discovered that the feeling of dry leaves, crackling, beneath my bare feet is exquisite. I remember being asked, so many times, as a child: “Doesn’t it hurt to walk on that gravel without shoes?” I would smile and shake my head. But that wasn’t true. It did hurt. I still walk on gravel with bare feet, but now my reply to this question is: “Yes, but it is a nice sort of pain.” Few people believe me. I like to feel what is beneath my feet. It is the texture. The shifting, angularity, of the gravel; the prickly, softness, of grass; the delicate, crunchiness, of dried leaves.
It makes me wonder about God and art. When we create art, we have in mind exactly how we want the audience to interact with the art. Should it be felt, seen, heard, tasted, or smelt? Sometimes it is a combination. Does God have something similar in mind for creation? Is there some way in which trees are best experienced, for instance? I don’t know.
In a way, I think our art is simply a way of searching for different and better ways to experience God’s beauty in the world. I remember the first time I had the urge to do this. I was walking on an old dirt road between two soy bean fields. From where I stood one could see several other fields, each bordered by a narrow strip of trees. To the right stood a pair of silos, one dark gray, with a white top, the other streaky white, with a red rusted top. Below and in front, though I could not see it, I knew there ran a stream. A slow, wide, brown stream. The banks were low and the grass on either side was combed flat by constant flooding, and bleached yellow by the sun. A brown stream, edged with gold. There was an old, abandoned, farmhouse, in the woods below the silos. I never went near it since I did not know the people who owned it, but I could catch glimpses through the trees. It had a wide front porch, and on the porch’s sloping roof stood a single wooden chair. I always wondered who put it there, and why?
As I stood on the dusty road I realized that to almost anyone else, this place would have no significance. It saddened me to think that the stream would change, the silos and house rot and disappear, the fields would be fenced in for cattle, and this scene would be lost forever. Never again to be discovered or enjoyed. That evening, I wrote a story about the dusty road and the golden stream. It was the first story I had ever written. I was nine. It was a very poorly written story, but I wanted to share something beautiful.
Now it is ideas, more than pictures, that I try to convey in art, but the urge is still the same. When I write a story, play a piece on music, or draw a picture, I am calling out to you: “Isn’t this beautiful? Please love it!” It is glorious to me that God not only has given us such richness of His beauty in creation, but also makes us so that we want to share it with each other. Have you felt the dry leaves with bare feet this fall? It is worth doing.