“Where then is my hope? Who will see my hope?” ~~Job 17:15
On the Tuesday following the Low Key Arts Open Houses, I woke up dreaming of oranges and people walking. I haven’t even had time to wash my “Dreamscape” sheets, but the open house event of the last weekend is still fresh on my mind. Job says, “If I look for Sheol as my house, if I spread my couch in the darkness, if I say to the Pit, ‘You are my Father,’ and to the worm, ‘My Mother,’ where then is my hope? Who will see my hope?” He thinks of the underworld of darkness and death, the place where shades and ghosts “live” but it’s not a place where flesh and blood exists or prospers. The Pit is another name for this place, as the grave is often called, for it’s a place of decay and degeneration. That pretty much describes the old Mountainaire Hotel our group of artists re-made with our site-specific art installations. No wonder so many of us chose to relate to the darker side of the building, for its mold, peeling paint, falling plaster, and leaking ceilings all spoke to its former glory and its current waste. I heard that this building even has a history of murder associated with its past ownership! If this building could speak, it would cry, “Where then is my hope? Who will see my hope?”
Thankfully, some of the artists did see the hope: on an upper balcony there was a papier mache girl watering paper flowers, and flying from the roof was a silly nude male balloon with full anatomical viagra enhanced appendage. As the party entered the fourth hour, no one reeled him in for his emergency room visit, but he was only a balloon. A visitor from Little Rock said what he enjoyed about coming to Hot Springs was that the artists here were “funky and had fun. They weren’t so deadly serious all the time.” My bedroom also had hope–a dream of restoration and renewal, not only for the old Mountainaire, but also for each of us and for the world. People said it was the “lightest room” in the building, as the other visions and installations were dark. The other artists saw it as it is, while I saw it as it could be.
Vision is what we artists are all about; our media is just the means by which we express that vision. If we have nothing of substance to say, if we have not looked upon the world and reflected deeply upon its ways and its meaning in the grand scheme of things, then our art has only a surface prettiness and won’t have any soul. We become decorators of the spaces, but we aren’t artists. Artists have soul, depth, passion, and feeling. They have engaged both the great joys and the deep despairs of the world. If they have discovered that their own strength and energy are inadequate to the task of living and working with power, then they are ready either for death or for life. The ones who choose hope, choose God and begin to live fully, for God’s power is stronger than our power, and his vision is bolder than our own!
I lay my bed in a house of darkness and I invited people to share in the hopes and dreams of a better world. The old Mountainaire Hotel is like our bodies and our lives: they may be wasting away because no one has loved or cared for them for a while, but God has a vision for each one of us, “a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1). This house is in the process of being made even now, for God is working in each of us by the power of the Holy Spirit to make us new and whole again. I can hardly wait to dream again, and to share in the hope of the new thing God is doing!