On New Year’s Eve we are all excited about our resolutions and promises to make this year the best yet. Well, it’s almost the end of January and how many of us have stuck to our resolutions? In my opinion, that’s the problem with resolutions; they are hard to keep. In fact, they may even cause us more stress because we set our expectations so high and then when we don’t keep our resolutions we feel like a failure. Resolution sounds a lot like the big “c” word – commitment and we all know that we don’t have time to commit to one more activity in our busy lives. In fact, the very word “resolution” actually means “to make a firm decision to do or not do something or the action of solving a problem.” Thus, to set a resolution each year declares that there is something broken in our lives and we need to fix it.
Well, that’s exactly what just happened! Last month a very significant event quietly occurred in the United States. I say “quiet” because as amazing as this event was, there was hardly any media recognition about it. In October of 2015, Nobel Peace Laureates, religious leaders, global thinkers, and interfaith activists gathered in Salt Lake City for the Parliament of the World’s Religions (Congress of the Religions). The Parliament is the oldest (1893), the largest, and the most inclusive gathering of people of all faith and traditions. Traditionally, the Parliament occurs every five years. This year 10,000 people, 80 nations, and 50 different faiths came together to learn, dialogue, and pray with each other.
As an artist, I am often inspired to try and imitate or reproduce the beauty I see in nature. With my paint brush, I can sweep colors of paint across a canvas to try and portray the splendor of a brilliant pink, yellow, orange, and purple sunset. Yet, try as I might, my paintings never fully capture the magnificence of the actual sunset. My artistic attempts cannot duplicate the real thing. It’s like traveling to a stunning location and wanting to freeze the moment in a photograph. A picture, even taken with the most expensive camera, still is not as satisfying as being at the location yourself. Of course this begs the question, does art imitate life or does life imitate art? For those who believe in a God of “All Creation,” the answer is always art imitates life. God is the original master or "artist" and humankind might try to replicate the original, but we cannot fully duplicate the master's handiwork. All the natural beauty and mystery that surround us is something we as humans cannot recreate. I can paint a sunset but I cannot originate one. But I can however, look upon a sunset with reverence and honor for the incredible gift of the fleeting beauty it offers. I can stand before a sunset and feel amazed in knowing that I am part of all that is God’s glorious creation. It is humbling to consider that the care of all this mystery and magnificence has been entrusted to us. Our vocation from God is to care for the very creation that inspires us.