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.
While I was considering a topic for this blog post I was having a conversation with a youth minister. I mentioned that it was Friday and that I was excited about the upcoming weekend. His response was “It’s all the same to me since I work every day.” He even went on to say that “his office was his second home and he often just stayed the night there.” While I totally understand that ministry is important work, his response made me feel sad and I can’t help but think that it makes God feel sad too. After all, even Jesus took time away from “work” to rest. How can we be who our young people need us to be if do not make time to care for ourselves? This is the time of year when many parish youth ministries are gearing up for a new school year. Often times this means scheduling more activities, parent meetings, finding volunteers, and frankly more stress. How will you manage the stresses in your life? How will you model a healthy lifestyle for the young people you minister with?