Pulling Back the Curtain: A Deeper Worship Experience
by Tina Ann Forkner
As I write this, a dove flits and hops from branch to branch in our backyard. I’m pretty sure its bobbing head and fluttering feathers are part of a dance for the glowing sun that the Lord has set high in the sky. Of course God raises the sun in the sky daily, but I only noticed it on this day because I decided to move my laptop into the living room and open the curtains while I worked.
For months I think I’ve had the curtains drawn, not only in my house, but in other parts of my life, and I’m saddened to think of the beautiful window views I’ve missed because I’ve been so busy. Busy with being a mom, a step-mom, a wife, a novelist, a volunteer and a hundred other roles that you can probably add some of your own tasks to, but it never used to be this way for me.
I never used to keep the curtains drawn so tightly. I was a woman who found beauty and art in the smallest things. I used to find them in the smell of my baby’s skin, the way my husband softly held my hand, in the eyes looking back at me from a painting, the way a story made me cry, and even in the way my writing process took me on a journey filled with characters who also found beauty in small things like art, gardening, and food. There wasn’t a day I didn’t walk past my window and look outside at the birds, flowers, and wind blowing in the tree branches.
I am not really sure when I stopped noticing the beauty of my own life, but it probably had something to do with trying to please others. It happened somewhere in the midst of divorce, struggling as a single mom, dealing with the complexity of a new step-family and dear husband, writing books and articles, and racing to keep up with a schedule that would never even begin to fit on my calendar. Not all of those things that distracted me were bad, but underneath it all was a beauty I denied myself. I didn’t have time to cook the recipes I loved so much, to revel in my wonderful new-found family, and I rarely had time to even visit a museum or read a story – and me, being a writer! And God? It’s no wonder he seemed so far away at times.
At one point, it felt like everyone else was in control of my life, and yet, looking back, I could have done a few things differently to keep from losing direction. I think I should have followed my heart first — that quiet, still voice of God whispering in my ear — and everything else second. I needed to pull back the curtains and let the sun shine into my life again. I needed to fill my life back up with the beauty and art of everyday things, and in doing so, try to get closer to God.
I think art in all its beauty plays an important role in worship and as Christians we can greatly benefit by slowing down and appreciating the art all around us. It can only bring us closer to the Lord. We don’t have to pick up a paint brush or write a poem (even though those are really good ideas), but we can find the beauty of art in what has been created by the Master Artist.
God’s constant creation is all around us in the laughter of a child, in the complexity of a flower and all its parts, and in the stateliness of the Oak tree. When you stop to look for it, God’s art is everywhere.
I’ve been watching for the artistic beauty in life again and it finds me now in the smallest ways. It finds me in the garden, in the mountains when we take our children there to hike and in the art displayed at my local library. Sometimes I just stop and look out the window. All of these acts and more don’t involve reading scripture and going to church, although those are important aspects of worship, but noticing the beauty of everyday things deepens my intimacy with God.
I’ve missed the sun and I’m glad I pushed back the curtains and let it shine into my soul once again. I don’t want to miss seeing it dancing with doves. This year, I want to be the dove. I want the sun, in all its mysterious God-created beauty emblazoned on a canvas of blue sky, to dance with me while I worship the Lord in my heart.
“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” – Revelation 4:11