Reflecting on Ned Bustard’s first chapter of his book, It Was Good: Making Art to the Glory of God, I found myself stumped and having my views challenged. To reflect on the world as a place that was originally created and considered to be “good” provides a different perspective.
Bustard challenges the worldly definition of “good.” In the beginning, when God created the world, the first thing he created was light. Interestingly enough, when light was created, there was nothing to make use of the light. Plants would not be created until the third day and humans until the sixth day. There was no use of the light, no humans to utilize the light, no plants to create photosynthesis. There was no use for light, yet it was good.
“Creation is useful because it is good. It is not good just because it is useful” Charlie Peacock
This idea rocked my mind. There are many things written in the chapter that I still find myself having to wrap my mind around them. For example, the idea of displaying troubled situations or the drastic moments of life in order to show the goodness in them. That is a very challenging thought to grasp, yet it makes sense if you think about darkness and light. When there is light all around, it is not that difficult to find. But only when we are completely consumed by darkness can we experience the true beauty of the smallest glimpse of light.
One of my favorite poems by Emily Dickinson is her 419th poem out of the 1800 she composed. I interpret the poem’s mention of darkness as a metaphor for the struggles and hardships of life, yet when we adjust our eyes to the darkness we can be grateful for the little light that can be seen.
We grow accustomed tot he Dark –
When light is put away –
As when the Neighbor holds the Lamp
To witness her Goodbye –
A Moment – We uncertain step
For newness of the night –
Then – fit our Vision to the Dark –
And meet the Road – erect –
And so of larger – Darkness –
Those Evenings of the Brain –
When not a Moon disclose a sign –
Or Star – come out – within
The Bravest – grope a little –
And sometimes hit a Tree
Directly in the Forehead –
But as they learn to see
Either the Darkness alters –
Or something in the sight
Adjusts itself to Midnight –
And Life steps almost straight
This was the best way I could interpret Bustard’s comments. This lead me to question my own art. It made me question how my art was “good.” How would a portrait of my youngest sister be “good,” if all it is showcasing is the beauty of someone I love and care about?
If the word “good” is looked at in the Greek, which would translate to kalos, the meaning becomes something that has “the sense of aesthetically beautiful and morally good, and pertains to that good which brings joy to God.” In that case, if I create with a sense of integrity then my work too can be good. This particular piece was based on the concept of childhood and a child’s mind being the source of imagination.
After reading this chapter, the word good has a different meaning than before.