They gather in a darkened gym in the early morning before the heat has baked the parking lot into a reflective oven. Some are heads taller and light years older and wiser than the littlest ones with their childlike faith in absolutions and fairness. They have scabbed knees and restless hearts; feet that dance because they can’t stand still; fingers that look for keys or strings or brushes to strum into submission.
For five days, I pack lunches to be eaten on a playground and dust off my teacher hat and two dozen sets of warped dowel rods. I may be the queen of over commitment—but this isn’t bondage. This is service and creation and cosmos out of chaos. This is a chance to share Jesus in what I believe is the best way—by celebrating the gifts and talents of those who are compelled to create.
God the Father created first, you know.
In the early mornings right now, I curl on our couch with my laptop and the rewrites of a novel that has potential—but first, I break open the words of Madeline L’Engle in Walking on Water alongside my Scripture. “We are human and humble and of the earth, and we cannot create until we acknowledge our createdness.”
L’Engle maintains unless we let ourselves be mentored by Christ, we cannot separate cosmos—beautiful, boundless art—from the chaos that surrounds this world. Chaos like gunmen in houses of worship, and prison workers who side with convicted killers.
For five days every summer since 2008, First Baptist Cornelia has hosted those who seek the divine through art—art that is both ethereal and everyday. Amidst the usual repertoire of classes for dancers, musicians, and sketch artists, there are offerings for aspiring quilters, potters, and puppeteers. I put sticks in the hands of children who are afraid to speak and teach them to praise the Lord with interpretive movement. We call the class God Rods, and I’m always amazed by the kids who take it over and over each year. Usually, they are not the ones with a natural aptitude for drama, but rather ones who timidly return, believing their small part of the whole is great and worthy.
I tell them we’re storytellers—putting images to the lyrics of songs they can sing, but do not understand. We chose Casting Crown’s “Voice of Truth” this year. A song about hearing cosmos among chaos, the voice of truth among the cries of failure and defeat. A song about how faith can evoke powerful actions: walking on water, slaying a giant, even painting a picture.
We call our camp MOSAIC: Mentoring Our Students Artistically in Christ. I wasn’t around when the original band of artists and dancers and musicians saw a need in our community. A need for our children to not only have the opportunity to experience the fine arts, but the opportunity to experience the fine Creator of all art.
I am grateful every year, that now, these are my people. Together, we see the world, in its chaos of blood and fear, and we find the cosmos. The kaleidoscope of color and beauty that God created, and then placed in our hands to return as a song of praise.
Originally published by The Northeast Georgian, June 2015.