I just finished reading a book by Makoto Fujimura, “Culture Care“. It’s one of those books chock full of things you were just about to say and hadn’t said yet. It’s also full of ideas and concepts that help shape how I think of myself and my role in the world. Fujimura is excellent at that – calling out the parts of myself that I hadn’t named, only felt.
Fujimura is an artist, a writer, and an influential thinker in matters of art & public vision, art & faith. In this book he offers a definition of “mearcstapas” (from Beowolf) as border-stalker, as the one who brings in new ideas to the tribe. (I looked up mearcstapas/border-stalkers in the original, and they’re monsters, not parts of the tribe, so I’m running with Fujimura’s interpretation).
Artists, he says, serve as mearcstapas. As the necessary “leaders from the margins” who bring new knowledge, empathy, reconciliation and warning, we enrich the group. That’s one of the things I want to do in my work – I want to inspire. I want to enrich the soil so that seeds can take root. I want to call out goodness. I want to point out beauty. I want to speak truth without hesitation.
“As we journey through the polarized culture, even if we cannot find common ground we can still find a way to value differences and to heed the call to love. ”Makoto Fujimura, “Culture Care” p. 129
I have often said that one of my life goals is to be in heaven as CS Lewis’ character Sarah Smith from the Great Divorce. As she said, “I am in love, and out of it I will not go”. I too am in love, and I am my truest self when I stay in love, and in wonder. It is joy to me to share with others the beauty that surrounds us, it is ecstasy to show others the beauty within themselves and help them embrace their truest selves.
I find myself constantly distracted by the ugliness and nonsense in modern life, by the internal dialogue forever fussing me about “what do they think of me” as if there was a real “they” there in the first place. The cacophony of should is as damaging to my work as noise headphones in Harrison Bergeron. It is this that speaks to me as a “border stalker” – I do my best work when I go outside the norms and say what must be said, bring back the news from a foreign land.
What do I want to achieve? I want to sound the “call to love” that touches hearts. I want to speak truth that informs minds. I want to inspire myself and those around me to look at life as we are living it, and life that we need – and change. I want to empower those around me to embrace, inhabit, create and replicate Beauty in their persons, their homes, their communities, and their hearts.
My tool is my writing… is it enough? And there we step from art to faith – for nothing of me is “enough”, but I must have faith that what is brought with a whole heart will be multiplied.
Yes. I have something I want of you. I want you to engage, discuss, share, disagree, become excited… and see that the world is full of possibility.