Let me tell you something about my situation, when I published my last post. It was Sunday the 2nd Advent when I had time and felt creatively but I wasn’t in the mood to write something about Christmas at all. I even considered to publish one of my old posts from last year. But I wanted to write something about my paintings, something about life, art and myself – and not again about Christmas. It must be hard to be a professional pastor, who is under constraint to preach every Sunday for his living and maybe sometimes against his or her feelings. But that’s only a side note.
Please, don’t laugh: I discovered a slight tendency of a bad conscience after I pressed the publish button. How come? A few times the last days I have been thinking about it incidentally. I still have no all over answer. Maybe I had forgotten that the Christian faith had nothing to do with my own efforts. I don’t have to proof anything. Neither to myself nor to my readers, at least to God to show that I believe in him.
There is a large space and the welcoming wide open arms of God the father. Don’t try to impress me, come as you are, there is nothing what you can give me besides an open heart.
And standing in front of the doors of Christmas, it’s hard to believe that I seemingly had forgotten at all in this daily humdrum: How Jesus was and how he is. Because God lived in his heart, he was the friendly face of God in this world. For those who didn’t know God and for those who still didn’t understand.
I don’t have to force myself to make things up. God is present and flows like a comforting stream of love, acceptance and grace through my life. Often I don’t understand him, lack of trust and faith but he never changes. And we as Christians are now the faces of God in this world. Make your hearts wide because God wants to express himself through us. As in Christ he lives in us today. Christmas is every day.
I had never an education in art – as you can see. But I heard that students of art have to copy the great artists to become familiar with their styles, colors and techniques to learn from them. Later they have to find their own styles, colors and techniques to express themselves. They were influenced by different artists but they also have to become free of the tradition. At that point it shows who is a “real” artist.
Let me tell you something about these paintings of mine. When you click on one of them you can see them as a slight show. I’ve painted them between 2014 and 2017. When you click the tag “art” you will see more of my art.
Well, for me the best picture at that moment is “Raskolnikov”, the most embarassing one is “One World”. But actually I hadn’t paint “Raskolnikov” at all. It was an accident, that it came into existence. The linen was an old piece of rag, which I used to clean my brushes. At that time I painted in oil. Oil colors dry very slowly. When I sorted my painting stuff a half year later, I found this rag in a plastic bag. The linen was glued together and I unwrinkled it to see if I could use it for something else. You can imagine my surprise, when I noticed that this rag had become a painting. A painting that had painted itself. The only act of creativity, when you really want to name it was finding a name for it. I named it “Raskolnikov” according to the main character in Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novel “Crime and Punishment”. It’s about a student who lives in poverty and kills a female money lender. It seemed to me that I could recognize a dark person and a face in the middle of the rag. The painting gets with that name quite a lot of seriousness and it could maybe hang in some art gallery.
“One World”, my “most embarrassing” painting, shows the connection between heaven and earth. I imagined that heaven is not a separated world 1000’s of kilometers up in the earth, but is as invisible world right besides us humans. It was painted by my own child. I have no children but it was painted so to speak by the little boy, who has been living – and hopefully will always live – in me. This painting contains more of “me” than “Raskolnikov”.
But how can I actually speak about “best” and “embarrassing” at all? Isn’t it because I imagine, what a real artist is and how he has to paint? That I have created a role, an image of an artist? Isn’t it funny, that you can distinguish an artist, a singer of a rockband, an attorney and a banker at first sight? Why do we often limit us to our roles, how somebody has to be? Aren’t we aware, that we are not only much more than our roles and how we pretend to be, but that we don’t need to be something? That we are free beyond our roles, beyond our status in society? We don’t need to limit us to particular standards. We are who we are. And if I understand this, that is, if you absolutely want to give it a name, what I call the art of living: to be yourself.
I know, how it is to have money, to drive a Mercedes and being boss of a company. Everybody greets you friendly and people make a bow. I know how it is to have no money: the bank puts thumbscrews on you, and you are only a maggot, but without bacon. If you then again come by some money, you are the made man, customer king.
Who is so naive to trust these rabble of bow-makers and hold-the-door-openers, doesn’t have to wonder if his / her heart turns up and down like the weather. He judges himself like the others see him. And here you can find the whole evil what makes you to a puppet of your fellow human being. You are to blame, if you hate yourself, because you still haven’t broken with the mob to whom it’s just about money, beauty and success.
Man I tell you, as long as you run after this you aren’t free but a servant of many. You are an everyman who goes for broke running after the zeitgeist and who misses out, because you can’t reach your own high standards. You are no Goethe, Shakespeare, no Nowitzki or Madonna. And all that is not tragic. You are not you, and that is a tragedy. To look your whole life at others and don’t feel yourself. What a waste. At the end you were not even yourself.
We go wrong, when we take the spiritual experiences of the biblical mystics with Jesus and make dogmatic truth claims of them. (e.g. John 1)
It’s like taking a love poem as a medical report about heart arrhythmia.
Let me be open: I don’t like Christmas at all. Ahww, I know, that sounds harsh. And I have the impression that it gets worse – with my feelings not with Christmas – every year. It has less to do with other people who are alienated to the true meaning of Christmas and mistake shopping and free time with the birth of Christ, which is the real reason why we actually are going to celebrate Christmas.
Christmas is my tender point and my Achilles heel. Normally you could say Dresden with its old buildings and different Christmas Markets like the popular Striezelmarkt with its long tradition is one of the best cities to celebrate Christmas. When you drive through the city you can see into a lot of windows which are richly and carefully decorated with Christmas asseccories. The people of Dresden care about Christmas traditions and build a whole safe world of Christmas memories around themselves.
Additional to this traditional overdose I guess another reason because I’m so depressed during the Christmas time may be the early darkness and the short days with its early darkness because of the winter. But surprise, surprise, I can prophesy for the 2nd January my mood will go up to nearly 100 % and the emotional spell of Christmas over me will be vanishing like a bad dream in the early morning.
If I liked and drank alcohol I certainly would drink alcohol until I become benumbed not to feel my emotions these days. A few years ago I fled to Turkey but nowadays I have neither time nor means to travel. In the lobby of the hotel I was welcomed by a richly decorated Christmas tree. But that wasn’t so bad because the environment was different. Another way to push away my Christmas sadness is to work. I keep myself busy to push aside the past of my safe childhood. A good remedy to deal with my Christmas mood you can see right here: I guess one of the best means is to get familiar with your feelings and to untangle them with words. To accept them and to accept yourself with patience. O.K. that’s the way it is. That’s the way I am. That’s my emotional structure. I overcame it the last years and I will certainly make it this year and in the hopefully following years in the future.
And Christmas is not about my emotional constitution, not about special Christmas feelings which we have cultivated in our western Christmas tradition. As we Mary and Joseph lived in their own daily reality. They were oppressed by the hard life then, dictated by the Roman empire and they were poor. Of course as a man I can’t understand how it is to be pregnant but I assume to travel by feet or on a donkey and to be pregnant certainly wasn’t easy and full of sorrows according to the future. But what at last counted weren’t the hard circumstances but the one who carried Mary in her womb. Looking at him gives me peace. Listening to Mary’s prayer I can find my peace too besides my broken emotional psychic structure according to Christmas.
“My soul magnifies the Lord.
47 My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked at the humble state of his servant.
For behold, from now on, all generations will call me blessed.
49 For he who is mighty has done great things for me.
Holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for generations of generations on those who fear him.
51 He has shown strength with his arm.
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
52 He has put down princes from their thrones.
And has exalted the lowly.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things.
He has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has given help to Israel, his servant, that he might remember mercy,
55 As he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and his offspring forever.” (Luke 1:46-55)