With some time off work after Christmas I've been painting. I'm working on a portrait and boy is it hard. Last night I shared with a friend who is not an artist (but is a golfer) that making art and playing golf have one thing in common - they are not head games. You have to develop muscle memory so what you are doing is instinctual. Your eye sees and your training, not your brain, does the work. If you think too much about either a brush stroke or a golf swing you'll end up in the rough!
Listening to the radio today I heard an interview with a favorite artist of mine. I've seen Jason Isbell play with the Drive By Truckers a few times in New Orleans but haven't seen him play live since he's gone solo and has written two albums that are the best music he's ever made. The interview I heard today focused on his skills as a songwriter and at one point when commenting on the way he used to work compared to his new disciplines he quoted another artist I admire, painter Chuck Close: "Inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just show up and get to work."
There are some lovely connections to the life of faith here. Each of us have our own way of praying but typically there are two - one is by contemplation and the other is by action. Interestingly enough neither of these ways of being "prayerful" are head games; both are techniques that involve disciplines that with persistent practice (showing up) allow holy instincts to overcome lesser ones.
I'm reminded here of a St. Alban's parishioner who was commenting on the experiences he had while on mission trip to Appalachia with our youth last year. The schedule for the day included a prayer service after breakfast and over that morning's meal someone commented: "Well, I hope the pastor doesn't pray too long because I pray with my hammer and want to get to work!"
Thank you all for a wonderful year and welcome to a new one. However so, let's all of us show up and get to work!