The Calm Artist

I was tempted to name this post "The Great Calm" because it had such a wonderful Zen-like Om ring to it.

I opted instead for "The Calm Artist" because it offers both a calling and an invitation for all artists to aspire to. And because it comes with a story.

Last week at The Grove's worship leader getaway, one of my close friends and Grove board member, Monty Kelso, offered this insight during one of our group conversations together. In so many words, Monty shared that the most intriguing, desirable people to be around are those who bring "a great calm" into any room or conversation they enter.

People who are calm bring peace, reassurance and an unmistakable "centeredness" to every environment they enter.

Ah, The Great Calm.

Monty's words triggered a flurry of questions -- and not necessarily calm ones -- through my mind.

Do I bring calm to those around me? When I enter a room, what are other people's radar picking up? Am I a calm person living from a deep and authentic place of peace? Do people experience the real me, the Christ in me -- calm, present, loving, secure, open -- or a false image I'm trying to prop up?

More questions... Am I a bit spastic like a middle-school kid grasping for attention? Am I trying to "network" a room, angling up to "important" people? Or, am I trying to sell myself or my art or my opinions or my politics, theology, or borrowed unoriginal ideas like an old trench coat filled with stolen watches?

A calm person has a foundational inner strength with a unique ability to see through difficult circumstances, conflicts, and the inevitable storms of life. Instead of opting for control, manipulating the people around them, a calm person brings soothing, reassuring presence.

The Great Calm is a matter of the heart. At its core, it's all about cultivation. What we water, seed, weed and fertilize.

People have sometimes (sometimes, mind you) complemented me for being low-key and unflappable. Yes, calm. I see myself more like that duck that glides across the pond, but is paddling furiously underneath. Calm is what I want to become, but I'm definitely not there yet.

If someone tells me to "calm down," I can either perceive 'dem words as fightin' words or an invitation to humility.

For whatever kind of art you create, I think there is a certain humility, yes a calmness, that must present itself as the work is created and what the final outcome can become. This is the same calmness that needs to be cultivated in our relationships as well. Too many artists have bought into the Modernist notion that great art must come from a place of deep, existential pain. Not exactly a great place to develop loving relationships.

A calm artist -- present, loving, secure, open -- has much to offer this broken world.

Question: How can you cultivate calmness in your life? How might this 'Great Calm' influence your art? Your relationships?

You just finished reading The Calm Artist. Click here to comment on The Grove blog now.