Passion, Patience, Perseverance
I was a twelve year old girl living in South Georgia when my Grandma Elizabeth took me to visit Providence Canyon State Park, nicknamed “The Little Grand Canyon”. She brought her 35mm film camera with her, and when – intrigued by the rich hues of the clay layers – I asked if I could take some photos, she happily obliged.
What ensued has been a decades-long quest to capture the small details and saturated colors of God’s beautiful creation. I still have some of those canyon pictures today, a visual reminder of the person and place that helped spark a lifelong interest in photography. Photography brings me joy. It has also taught me valuable lessons.
Can you look back on your life and pinpoint a moment when one of your passions emerged? Perhaps it was something that you were exposed to at home - but maybe, just maybe, it was something you learned about at school. If you are a Trinity student, or the family member of one, you know that we are blessed with a curriculum that emphasizes not only classical literature, science, and mathematics, but also engages creativity through music, art, theatre, and public-speaking.
We can likely all agree that the former subjects are essential, but what about the latter? Are the arts – usually offered as electives in secondary school – truly essential to the development of the whole person? Does cultivating a passion, or at least an appreciation, for one of the arts (in my case, photography) really enhance quality of life? The pioneers of the classical Christian education movement certainly thought so – and I agree!
Okay, so the arts (defined as “the human application and expression of creativity through skills and imagination, in order to produce objects, environments, and experiences) may give us something to love, but do they really TEACH us anything, or do they simply provide a fun, creative outlet? Actually, there is deep and meaningful character refinement to be gleaned from the pursuit of creativity and expression. Three things come to mind when I think about the valuable lessons that the arts provide: patience, perseverance, and the development of a sense of awe.
If you’ve ever tried to capture a stunning photo of your squirming toddler, sat for theatrical make-up application as an actor, or listened to a beginner play a violin, you know that patience is required to maintain your composure in these situations. As with patience, perseverance is also necessary in the pursuit of the fine arts, if we wish to achieve the desired result. No one becomes a concert pianist after just one lesson – if we want to become better we must practice, stay the course – persevere. When I think of perseverance at this time of year, the senior theses come to mind.
They have worked all year to hone their skills in the art of public speaking, and it comes to fruition in May, due to perseverance, or the determination to achieve their goal of presenting a powerful oral argument in front of a panel of judges.
Patience and perseverance often go hand-in-hand, but let’s not forget about awe! The longer I live on this earth, the more I am in awe of God’s incredibly intricate and deliberate Creation, full of inexplicable wonders. I truly believe that my interest in the visual arts has given me a healthy dose of awe. Through the fine arts, God allows us to see His handiwork not only in Creation, but also in the humans he sent to inhabit it, and consequently, in the environments and experiences they create. The incredible singing voices, skilled potter’s hands, and exquisite works of art on museum walls should inspire deep admiration and appreciation for the talents God has bestowed upon us. When we are awestruck by the capabilities God has given the human body and mind, we can see those around us in a new light.
Patience, perseverance, and a healthy sense of awe have benefits that reach far beyond the fine arts environments in which they are cultivated. From utilizing patience when trying to discern God’s plan after graduation, to persevering through training for the long-awaited dream job, to being in awe at the unique talents of the spouse God places in their path, students who learn these traits now have an opportunity to make their lives more meaningful later.
Even those of us who haven’t been students for a very long time can benefit
from the deliberate and daily practice of patience, perseverance, and the pursuit of things worthy of awe, especially in this unusual season of life. As we all navigate this pandemic, my personal goals are patience in God’s timing, perseverance in my prayer life, and sharing daily with my children (through all of the incredible arts experiences that have been made available online for free) something that inspires awe.
How about you?