If you’re like me, you might be humming the rest of the chorus – “…I will lay me down.” That landmark song, “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” written by Paul Simon, rolls across the years like a wave on the ocean. He was inspired by an ad lib line from and old gospel song by the Swan Silvertones, “Mary Don’t You Weep.” One of the singers, Claude Jeter, threw in the line, “I’ll be your bridge over deep water if you trust in me.”
Here’s a question for you – in a world where there is so much suffering what is the point of art? For many, art seems unnecessary – like some sort of luxury. But art takes many forms. There are museums with paintings and sculptures by the old masters. There are cathedrals for worship. But there are also graffiti artists, tattoo artists, musical artists, literary artists. So whether it’s painting, writing, singing, sculpting, building, or any other creative endeavor – what’s the point?
Art, in its various forms, causes us to think and feel. In doing so art affects the way we perceive life and the way we see others. It also helps us appreciate beauty, which in turn gives hope. Suffering people need hope, we all do, so art is important for those who suffer – and we all suffer. Whether you enjoy the paintings, books and music of others, or whether you create these things, you are participating in the act of social bridge-building. Every picture, each song, everytime you read or write a poem you are coming to a crossing place. And our creative efforts build the crossing places. The creative endeavor is like that of the brick mason – one brick at a time – until the bridge is complete. Like the other words of Mr. Simon’s famous song, the bridge-building artist can truly say, “I will ease your mind.”
The Christmas story is that God crossed over to us so that we can cross over to Him. He accomplished that through a baby in a manger which has been the subject of more painting, books and songs than you could possibly imagine. In other words, the nativity is God’s ar – a thing of wonder and beauty. It invites us to cross over the troubled waters of this life into a world of simple majesty.
The Crossing Places