The Art of Silent Hearing
“The first demand any work of art makes upon us is surrender. Look, Listen. Receive. Get yourself out of the way.” by C. S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism
....the truth is that I am still learning to be silent before that piece of wood art that is ‘before’ me….
Getting my-self out of the way allows me to see what is be-fore my beginning as the wood I use pre-dates my time and will be around long after. In thinking about what C. S. Lewis is saying here, I am drawn to what he had to say about receiving from “a work of art” and using the “art”.
When looking at a piece of wood and seeing what that piece ‘just is’ in my moment of now, then, that work is already completed. In my mind when by seeing and hearing I understand what the wood is already, then by receiving I receive that completed form and from that point on my hands are playing catch up to that piece of wood art, as in ‘dancing with wood’.
Lewis goes on to define the difference between those receiving from the work of art and those who would use the art. “We sit down before a work of art in order to have something done to us, not that we may do things with it.” Yes there was a time when I would look at wood and my mind then worked over-time to assemble what that wood was to become. A builder of boxes was I, and so a customer wanted cabinets or bookcases etc., and so I worked at using the wood to create for others while never taking the time to ask the wood what it already was. Lewis goes on to speak about using in this manner, “When we use it, we treat it as assistance for our own activities.”
Since I am learning to sit, look and listen, I am learning to receive. One of the greatest lessons I am learning is that life is not all about giving, but that there is great joy in receiving. I realize that I am going off track here from the subject of wood, but who can stop my fingers when they go their own way across this keyboard. Being one who was at one time always fast to give, but never needing to receive, I was fast in the art of giving and at the same time a user of promoting self to the sound of praise coming from others.
A builder of boxes using the wood as a form of art to promote my-self, while never taking the time to hear what the wood was ‘giving’ to me.
....so in between the ticking of the tock as the seconds go by, I am older and wiser now and some might say more mature, while time will tell if this is true. However this one thing do I know and that is, I am still learning to be silent before that piece of wood art that is be-fore me….
-- --frank, NH, http://rusticwoodart.tumblr.com/