Leah Farmer

Personal perspectives on faith, literature, and life.

A Gift

“7. We Are Not Lazy. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heshel says that humankind will perish not from lack of information but from lack of appreciation. How right he is! When gratitude reigns, energy reigns. When thankfulness is real, praise happens. Praise is never lazy. Praise extends itself, sacrifices, gives away. Praise is effusive, it goes out to others. At the heart of all creativity there lies praise, there lies a hidden “thank you,” a yearning to return blessing for blessing. This is how the great psychologist Otto Rank defines the artist: “one who wants to leave behind a gift.” Why would one be intent on leaving a gift behind if one had not intuited that life, for all its woe and troubles, is essentially praiseworthy and deserving of our gratitude? Gratitude is the ultimate enabler. Gratitude moves us from apparent laziness to heroic giving. Never underestimate the power of gratitude.”

Matthew Fox begins his book on creativity as a connection between the Divine and the spirit of humanity by listing 8 things we are not. The list is magnificent (see below) and after reading his descriptions of each I felt a resurgence of my desire to create. I watch my friends…who create…and know that Rank’s statement that the artist is one who wants to leave behind a gift is so very true. I know that when I step out of my own malaise and the haze of disappointment I’ve allowed myself to feel, and I look at all the things I’m grateful for, it becomes impossible to be lazy. It becomes impossible to NOT create. It becomes impossible to throw in the towel.

One afternoon on a sailboat and freedom returns and I want to share pictures I’ve captured and write in such a way that others feel the wind on my face and the freedom of being on the water. One morning hiking a small trail with an elderly parents and I want to paint a picture of Mt. Rainier so that you all know what it is like to see those beautiful blue skies and smell air so fresh you had no idea air could be tasted. One evening of perfect kisses and warm embraces and I want to tell a story so breathtakingly romantic that you will all feel the flush of my skin and lower your eyes knowingly in remembrance of your own perfect nights.

How do I know that we are not lazy? Because one brush with wonder and a pinch of praise and gratitude flows out in pictures, song, written word, beautiful clothing, woodwork..art of all kinds.

Remember these words? “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8 NLT) The next verse proves Fox’ premise…”Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me–everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” (Phil. 4:9 NLT)

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