“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” – Genesis 1:27
Several years ago, we were invited by a friend to a local hangout where she knew one of the musicians performing with the jazz ensemble that was playing that evening. We accepted the offer, quite honestly to spend time with our friend, not necessarily for the musical performance. But as the evening wore on, we became more and more intrigued with the music. Not that we were not fans of jazz before, in fact we often enjoy listening to it in the car when we are on road trips. That evening, though, we realized something in the live performance that we had failed to recognize listening to recordings; that is, we were not just listening to the music, but experiencing the musicians themselves. Jazz is like that, you see, a unique music form that is not simply being played, rather it is being created before your very eyes. It is more like entering a studio where artists are painting and sculpting instead of a gallery filled with completed works.
In his book Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller describes a similar epiphany about jazz music. “I never liked jazz music,” he says, “because jazz music doesn’t resolve. But I was outside the Bagdad Theater in Portland [Oregon] one night when I saw a man playing saxophone. I stood there for fifteen minutes, and he never opened his eyes. . . After that I liked jazz.”
Dorothy Sayers, the late British writer, poet, and playwright would often analogize that an artist is one who “does not see life as a problem to be solved, but as a medium for creation.” I think what she was trying to say is that the context of our lives is in the story we create with them, and that the problems we solve, however great or small, are only details within the story.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him.” Referring to that scripture Julia Cameron, in her classic book The Artist’s Way, concludes that if we are made in the image of the Creator, that means that we too are creators. Thus, like jazz music, we do not resolve, as long as we have breath within us, we are not completed works. Until then, we remain artists, continuing to create in this our earthly studio.