Tag Archives: mentor

Guest Writer: Shane Tucker ‘Aesthetic Spirituality’

I invited Shane to post here, chiefly because I feel a kinship to Shane. The artist and the spiritual formation learner I am jives so nicely with Shane’s outlook, and what he does as his life’s work. Writers, artist, thinkers, creatives, musicians, and so forth bring vital perspective to Christian Spirituality, and walking with God. Shane tends to this group, which is not an easy task.

Shane Tucker

 

Who is SHANE TUCKER?
Shane lived in Ireland for eleven years with his wife, two daughters and son. Now, he serves as Creative Director for ‘Dreamers of the Day‘ [www.dreamtoday.org] – a network utilizing the arts, spiritual disciplines, evocative messengers, and symposiums to engage people in their journey with Christ. He is passionate about seeing people live into their purpose in life, and he finds applications for that as a ‘soul friend’ (spiritual director) via Soul Friend (www.ArtistSoulFriend.com). He can be reached via either website or at shane dot tucker at gmail dot com.

Please enjoy Shane’s post, and feel free to offer your insights, comments, or questions.

Aesthetic Spirituality
by Shane Tucker

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
-ThomasMerton

We have an innate quality to notice beauty at every turn. To know that something is ugly or unattractive we must, of course, know that true beauty exists . . and in some way, to have experienced it. We resonate most strongly with that which seems to offer wholeness or a sense of completeness to our lives. That resonance may also be experienced as a deep hunger. Seldom do we know ourselves well enough to be able to express those yearnings in a coherent fashion. Itʼs in those times we need a bridge – something enabling us to connect, to integrate disparate elements into a whole. . . into a sense of being whole.

Art – any method or medium of creativity – can often serve as this necessary bridge, this connection, between what we know and what we long or yearn to know. Art gives us the tools, the words, the motion to live into what we sense is already there, but as of yet remains unseen. In this sense, art itself is a means by which we find ourselves by moving beyond ourselves. Through art (the highest sort) we are transported into places and spaces where we can lose ourselves. Itʼs a gift to be fully present to, and fully absorbed into, a situation or individual where weʼve forgotten to be concerned with our own desires or even aware of our image before others. Iʼve had a few experiences like this directly and by extension.

One of those experiences occurred three summers ago while I was attending a festival of creativity in middle England. I sought out a band I wanted to become acquainted with and unexpectedly, during their set I was in continual awe. Through their skillful use of music and visual elements, I was caught up in the moment and I forgot myself. Classic. Iʼve had similar experiences standing on green, broad, bald hilltops around Ireland as I drank in the arresting landscape around me. Another example are Christmas mornings since my three children arrived on the scene. Experiencing the uninhibited enthusiasm and joy demonstrated by these little people as they open gifts and share their excitement with the family – these are moments of pure bliss.

In times such as these we are given the gift of losing ourselves . . more specifically, concern for ourselves. The end, however, is not the experience of forgetting oneself in beauty, wonder, and awe; or even that of knowing a deep resonance which affords us the equivalent of tonal tonic through lifeʼs journey. Itʼs knowing Him. I hear, see, touch, taste and feel the Creator in this God-saturated existence called life. Heʼs made Himself ever- present in the created order and ever-accessible. He has, in fact, painted Himself into the portrait, written Himself into the narrative and sung Himself into our lives – even into existence, in Jesus Christ. When we recognize His overtures of love, our moment is to respond whole-heartedly, in trust, recklessly abandoned. In His hands, we then become the artwork by which He invites others to lose and find themselves in Love.

“Those who want to save their lives will lose them. But those who lose their lives for me will find them.” – Jesus, Matthew 16:25

by Shane Tucker / Soul Friend (Spiritual Director) / www.ArtistSoulFriend.com

Thank you, Shane.

My Top 5 Reasons/signs you may be burned out on church

1. You find yourself thinking up illnesses that would suffice for excuses for staying home. Sometimes you even invent names like Snufflititus or Schnozatigo: The serious redness and inflammation of the area beneath the nose from too much tissue rubbing. Rx Coffee, remote control, rest, snacks, and tissues with lotion built-in.

2. You suddenly realize how cool, smart, and savvy the early Sunday morning tv shows are, and feel like you might be getting a raw deal but missing them.

3. You feel deeply offended that your church doesn’t care too much that the coffee offered tastes something like armpit, and you start to identify this characteristic with an inherent spiritual problem of your congregation. (perhaps the misusing of the gift of hospitality) 

4. You start to pick apart the pastor’s sermon with a graph, and two columns of hatch marks on your church bulletin, adding up the times he is substituting a self-aggrandizing story instead of using a true parable to teach a point.

5. You find getting tapped for nursery duty a welcomed relief, because you won’t really have to talk to anybody, watch a worship performance you won’t enjoy, or try to not yawn an ungodly amount of times as you try to get through a sermon the pastor must have downloaded from somewhere late Saturday night.

Okay, this was a purposefully whacky list. If you can relate to any of these internal excuses, signs, or avoidance qualities, in some sort of way, then maybe the experience of attending church has grown stale.

It’s normal to have spiritual slumps. It can’t be wise to think of walking with God as a continual emotional high, and when it’s not experienced as such, something is horribly wrong. Like any journey, there will be hills and valleys. Faithfulness demonstrated as a choice done continually, (rather than a feeling-based action) can really see us through times like this. God is always with us, whether we “feel” him or not.

However, I’ll make a different point. There is also a tendency to fall into a consumer mindset, and feel like church-going is like shopping, and picking out something you like. We probably all do it, to an extent. Have you ever walked out of the service on Sunday thinking, “That wasn’t really what I was hoping for,”? Yep. Unmet expectations are common. But, it doesn’t have to wreck the whole bit of it.

Church doesn’t have to delight us every time, and soothe us. Most times it won’t feed us, not in the deep ways we crave. Those times are often found in community that can plumb to greater depths, and do the harder work, but build the stronger bonds that make genuine growth possible. (Think small groups, or spiritual directors, spiritual mentors, and discipleship situations.)

Church isn’t just some way to get recharged for your week, and be poured into. But, have you noticed how easy it is to slip into that bare minimum, and consumerist outlook of it? I have. I’ve been guilty of it way too much.

It’s not about just an experience, nor is it just meant for worshiping God with others. We worship God all the time, whether we do it poorly and unawares, or we tune in and give him our whole selves. We are his creation, our lives lived are a form of worship, like it or not.

Church-going, and the whole of the spiritual walk, are about applying the gospel to our lives in every circumstance and situation, the whole way through. God’s grace and love came down. He draws us to him. He restores. It seems we co-opt and yield to his mighty, gracious work to changing us radically, to be more like him.

Sometimes it just comes down to sucking it up. Sometimes it means you have to change, not your local church.

Have you ever been burned out on church, like I have, at one time or another? What helped you?

Leave any kinds of comments you’d like.