This article is about pausing for art.
On the evening of April 1st, a friend and I made our way to the Chapel where we sat in shadowed chapel seats, awaiting a concert from Penny & Sparrow. Neither of us had listened to Andy Baxter and Kyle Jahnke’s music much before, but who can turn down a free concert? The duo began the show unplugged; no mics, just a guitar and vocals. While students leaned forward, silent and eager, every corner of the Chapel absorbed rich harmonies and delicate melodies. But this article isn’t about Penny & Sparrow.
You see, as I listened to the first couple of songs, interspersed with humorous banter, my mind drifted to three papers and two poems I needed to write. A list of chores and deadlines sat in the back of my brain, reminding me of how little time there is in the weekend. My thoughts drifted to friends I wanted to hang out with in these last few weeks of the semester, and difficult conversations I had to face. Fears about the future crept up, and an urgency to accomplish something reverberated in my mind. Soulful music became a backdrop for me to chase after productivity. Guilt kicked in for choosing a concert over a study session.
Earlier that week, I had the opportunity to attend a friend’s oral defense for her art SIP. The hour spent sitting in the art gallery discussing a beautiful piece didn’t help me check anything off my list, but it did help me process through doubts. It encouraged me to ask questions about pain and fear on our campus. In that hour I listened to people far wiser than myself ponder questions and ideas, and from them I learned a little bit more about the world.
You could argue that the time I spent at the Penny & Sparrow concert or at my friend’s oral defense would have been better spent finishing homework or completing chores, but I disagree. The best use of that time was stopping to rest, enjoy, and ponder. These events rejuvenated my soul, and provided a place of rest and peace.
Music and art help us think deeply and understand life in a way that textbooks sometimes can’t. Pausing for art can accomplish things beyond checking off a to-do list. As humans created in the image of God, we were born to create artwork and music, and to write poetry and plays. We were also designed to rest and enjoy the fruit of our labor.
After a few songs of feeling guilty for resting, I finally allowed myself to enjoy the Penny & Sparrow concert. Every minute was worth it, and guess what? I still had time to finish my homework. Enjoying the gifts that God bestowed on these musicians actually prepared me to return to work and the many things that must be done.
Life is busy. That’s a fact. But we are not being irresponsible or lazy when we pause for art. Sometimes taking an hour out of our week to appreciate art is the best way we can spend our time. We may not be able to go to every concert, every music department event, every senior art show, or every poetry night, but opportunities here and there to stop, look, think, and rest in art help us reorient our minds and hearts. Here at Covenant we are blessed with many opportunities to appreciate art, and little moments spent with art are not something to feel guilty for. Rather, they are something to praise God for.