I know there's something about art and creativity that compels the artist so that you create for yourself, for the sake of the act of creating art, regardless of whether an audience will receive your art.
But what if your raison d'être as an artist is the community?
What if your calling is to be the bard, the storyteller, song singer, sacred space holder, for your community. And what happens if you are, and that call is affirmed and confirmed in many ways along the way, but actually, does the community receive your art, listen to the stories you tell, enter the space you hold, look to you at all as one they have affirmed in this role? What then?
Do you keep on crafting words if it feels like voices will never share them?
Do you continue to curate space, virtual, real, if it seems like people will never enter them?
Do you continue to be who you believe you are called to be, if you are not seen?
These are questions I ponder, listening to a poet perform a piece in affirmation of artists unseen, poets unheard: create, because you no longer need an audience. (from the beautiful 'Welcome Home', by Joel McKerrow)
But I need an audience. Not for me, for the work I am called to create.
Then I ponder, shouldn't I, like Julian or Hildegaard (I imagine) write simply because God compels me to write and care not for human readers and hearers? Isn't composing for God enough? Isn't God my audience?
Well, yes, in a way, but also no. Because the story I tell is God's story, and I tell it as an invitation to listeners to be caught up in the story of hope and of love and of life. The poems I write are expressions of humanity, in order to invite others to reflect on their humanity, to hope and love and live. The prayers I compose are to be spoken to God, that is true enough, but even they are intended for speaking by other humans, to participate in hope and love and fulness of life.
I don't write for me, although I do write and perform because it is what is mine to do, for the fulness of my being and the fulness of our humanity together. I don't write for me; I write for us.
But I am not always confident that I have an audience, that anyone needs my words, reads my words, hears my words; and it makes the words that much harder to write, to speak. And as I face a crossroads, the next step along the way of this vocation so far so well affirmed, I find I do not know which way to go. This has never been an easy path to travel, and although a season of stability and certainty is tempting after this particularly challenging season in Scotland, I will continue on the hard road gladly, for its rewards are many and varied.
Because I do what I do with a particular sense of doing it for my community, I think I am a little lost, not knowing where my community is now. That's the expat's lot, I'm afraid, having lived abroad, you're never quite home in either place, having home in both places. I have no sense of whether I am to go 'home' to Australia, stay here in Scotland, or travel somewhere new. I have no sense of where the Spirit might be leading; I have no sense of which community might welcome me home.
And I feel as though I am drifting. I feel as though I have no audience, and I do not know for whom I am creating, and it is making the creating that much harder. I hope these will be feelings that do not last much longer, though I know they are feelings I will encounter again. For despite it all, I somehow manage to hold on to my hard-fought understanding of who I am, creative woman of God.
I am a bard who travels between communities, carrying the stories of our people and our God, and helping others live their stories well.