Stopping Time?

Arts and TheologySometimes our lives gets so busy and action-oriented that I don’t stop for a second to look at everything (replace “our lives” with “my life” and “everything” with “the mess”). Shinichi Maruyama, in his Kusho series, takes something that would normally be seen as action, and attempts to express a frozen moment. There are many artists who do this kind of abstraction, you could even make the case that all art abstracts time in some way. But there’s something more that got me interested in Maruyama’s work, though I’m still not sure what it is. Maybe it’s because he also does Nihonga and Makoto Fujimura, who I love, also does Nihonga and deals with time (though in a different fashion), or maybe it’s the high contrast of the photographs themselves (the stopped action is something so obviously completely other than its surroundings). Or maybe I just like looking at them, especially the Kusho movie, I think it really gets at his “writing in the sky” idea.

Shinichi Maruyamas Kusho series

Shinichi Maruyama’s Kusho series

One thing that I do know I like is his presentation of the preciousness of the moment. Sometimes the moments are serene, sometimes violent, each seem to be unique and each give a feel of significance. Spending the time he does gives the moment value, importance, something of worth.
This speaks to me, knowing that I don’t give time its due significance, which leads to a little obsession with the subject (but I’m a musician, so I should be obsessed a little with time).

It also brings up the idea that if God is infinite and outside of the constraint of time, then He can spend an infinite amount of time on one moment. He would be able to see our moments better than we can. These abstractions by Maruyama would not be abstraction for God. This is really comforting for me, knowing that not only is God my future hope, but He is here. With me. Right now. I overlook/disdain/take for granted this idea very often and my life is less for that. I hope that Shinichi Maruyama’s work will not just be something amusing for me to look at, but will show me another aspect of God’s Person.

On Vines and Time

A Vineyard in Sonoma

A Vineyard in Sonoma

I’ve been hovering around this idea of time recently, but lately I feel like I’ve more clearly understood this concept of redeeming time or taking our time. A few weeks ago, Christina and I took a trip out to Sonoma, California. It was incredibly beautiful, with vineyards everywhere, incredible weather, and a huge lack of responsibility. We both needed some kind of break from our uber-busy lives, and this trip did the trick. Among the many things we set out to do, the things that keep sticking with me were our trips to local vineyards and wineries.

The reason these vineyards stuck with me is because there was a completely different pace of life going on. It was a real world application of what I tried to accomplish in this musical piece on rest was being done in the real world. There is a patience that comes from resting that produces a satisfying tranquility. (This is resting in the real definition of the word, not a synonym for laziness.) The Sabbath was not just applied to people, but to the land. This tied-to-the-earth dynamic was present at all times. If our lives more closely mirrored the lives of these plants, we would be better off for it and, I believe, come to a more full view of what it means to rest.

We were able to drink Zinfandel from vineyards that were over 100 years old. I was able to taste the fruit of someone’s labor in the 1880s. To me, this has a lot to say about how we view the present. Or maybe, how I view the present. I tend to think if I’m not producing, if I’m not creating something good this moment, I’m not redeeming time as I ought. And that gets tiring.

A Vine

A Vine

I think the reason why I’ve been so obsessed with this whole time thing is that I recognize how much I need to have a proper view of time itself. Life is not meant to be a series of phrenetic jumps, one thing to another, but is meant to be enjoyed like a fine wine. To properly enjoy such a thing requires work and waiting. Labor and patience. It takes somewhere around three years before a new vineyard can produce grapes. In that three years there may seem to be nothing going on. It’s not producing anything. But to the owner and caretaker of the vineyard, there are many things happening below the surface.

And there are so many things that can go wrong with a vine, so many facets of how to care for the plant in order to produce the best possible fruit, it totally makes sense to me now why this is such a metaphorically rich subject, one that Jesus used many times in teaching about the kingdom and Christian life. If farming and keeping vineyards were the metaphors that our Lord chose to give us pictures of God’s kingdom, there is an inherent view of time that I am missing. Our culture, for the most part, misses this as well. And we are worse off for it.

So as I’m reflecting back on our vacation, my attempt will be to somehow to catch some of this idea of rest and incorporate it into our normal rhythm of life here, back in our real non-vacation world.