Adorning the Dark
by Andrew Peterson

Book Review

Madeleine Hagan: The Salt Compass Blog

By MADELEINE HAGAN

Five Star Recommendations on The Salt Compass Bookshelf

There are so many praises that I could sing about this book and how wonderful it is. The tagline is Thoughts on Community, Calling, and the Mystery of Making. So much of what he says encourages me and makes me feel somewhat sane. Like, Oh. Someone else has thought this too. He talks about the fear that one is redundant. The fear that I cannot possibly contribute something worthwhile when there are plenty of other people who have said it already and probably with better vocabulary. But he said he fights back with George MacDonald:

“As the fir-tree lifts up itself with a far different need from the need of the palm-tree, so does each man stand before God, and lift up a different humanity to the common Father. And for each God has a different response. With every man he has a secret — the secret of the new name. In every man there is a loneliness, an inner chamber of the peculiar life into which God only can enter… a chamber into which no brother, nay, no sister can come.

            From this it follows that there is a chamber also — O God, humble and accept my speech) — a chamber in God himself, into which none can enter but the one, the individual, the peculiar man — out of which chamber that man has to bring revelation and strength for his brethren. This is that for which he was made — to reveal the secret things of the Father.”

            Each of us holds a place in the heart of God. Each of us see Him with a point of view that no one else does. And that makes our contribution essential.

            He talks about discipline and sitting down to do the work, even when a million and one distractions are clamoring for your attention every 5 seconds. He talks about excellence rather than just agenda when it comes to the artistic process and about how honesty, truth, and beauty are woven together in the best forms of art. He talks about what is Sacred and the power of the Integrated Imagination. He talks about belonging to a place and a people.

            I am so grateful this book exists. This is the book I want to hand anyone who resonates with the tension that comes with creating, forging, a beautiful thing. What’s it about? They ask, when I recommend it. Well. It’s about someone who understands what it’s like to be so afraid of the thing you are creating. Who has spent long hours circling around a flash of inspiration that feels unattainable. Who has experienced that glorious handful of moments when you realize this, right here, is what I was made to do, and that this, right here, is worship when I do. Who knows about how hard it is to write anything down if you don’t zoom in very closely, and write about just one thing at a time. About how you haunt the room a little bit until you have finished what it is you are in the process of creating.

            He talks about community. How art nourishes community and how community nourishes art. About gardening. About sunsets. About writing spaces and music that moves you before you even have the words to pair with it yet.

            Again, I am so grateful. I know I am not the only one who has found they are not alone by reading these pages. And I know that I have not been the only one to be encouraged to sit back down in the chair and finish something I might have started a long time ago.

“I’m convinced that poets are toddlers in a cathedral, slobbering on wooden blocks and piling them up in the light of the stained glass. We can hardly make anything beautiful that wasn’t already beautiful in the first place. We aren’t writers so much as gleeful rearrangers of words whose meanings we can’t begin to know. When we manage to make something pretty, it’s only so because we are ourselves a flourish on a greater canvas. That means there’s no end to the discovery. We may crawl around the cathedral floor for ages before we grow up enough to reach the doorknob and walk outside into a garden of delights.  Beyond that, the city, then the rolling hills, then the sea And when the world of every cell has been limned and painted and sung, we lie back on the grass satisfied that our work is done. Then, of course, the sun sets and we see above us the dark dome of glittering stars. On and on it goes, all the way to the lightless borderlands of time and space, which we come to discover in some future age are but the beginnings or endings of a single word spoken from the mouth of God. Some nights, while I traipse down the hill, I imagine that word isn’t word at all, but a burst of laughter.”

– Andrew Peterson, Adorning the Dark

Thank God for resonators. Happy reading, friends.

The Salt Compass Blog by Madeleine Hagan