A few years ago, I had a friend visiting me in Nashville. She was in town for business and had an extra day, so we decided to explore the city a bit. When I picked her up from the airport she mentioned her interest in seeing an art gallery.
We walked into the first room, filled with beautiful art from a variety of painters and artists. Everything from beautiful landscapes to abstract blurs of light and texture. It was quite an experience to say the least.
As we continued, we turned the corner into another unexplored room. The walls were white, allowing the rich color of the paint to jump off the walls. The lighting was perfect and pure. And there it was, the painting that caught my attention. it was a 2′ x 3′ canvas painted entirely black. There wasn’t anything fancy about it. No detail, no texture, no title and no description. Just black.
It was as if a child had come in and ruined a beautiful picture that once stood in it’s place. It’s presence created an amazingly strong contrast to the rest of the canvases that were hanging on the wall. It seemed like a mistake, and yet it would be the painting I would remember after the fact.
After a few moments, I proceeded along and walked through several more rooms admiring painting after painting. Finally, we entered the last room. I remember taking a right turn before seeing a room that was seemingly empty. The first wall we saw, nothing. The second, Nothing… and before we thought that the curator of the museum had forgotten about this room, we turned completely around to see the signature piece.
A painting larger than life. It covered the entire wall… and seemed to invite us into the majestic scene of orange, blue, purple and reds. It was an abstract sunset to me and warmed up the entire room. It’s detail, texture and more than anything it’s size, amazed me. The room didn’t need anything else in it to fill it’s creative “void” for this one painting seemed to capture all the air in the room.
It dawned on me that both of these paintings provided contrast, and yet both told powerful stories. OF course that large one is like environmental projection, this somewhat larger-than-life canvas that invites our communities into the story.
But it wasn’t just the large painting that I will forever remember… It will be the small, still, black void that will forever captivate me. To be honest, it was the most powerful picture in the entire museum. And it was silent.
This is really a resemblance of visual silence. A black void in the midst of ever constant and ever incessant noise. When we program our worship to include canvas of noise after canvas of noise, no matter how beautiful it may be… we may need a small canvas of pure black paint every once in a while.
For those who were at SALT Nashville 2013, we all got a glimpse of that small black canvas didn’t we? In the midst of a weekend full of visuals, eye candy, atmosphere and environment, we walked into a room tuesday night with nothing but a simple still cross. No projection. No words. Just a breath.
I wonder what the small black canvases in your ministry are?
Where are you able to put silence in the midst of volume?