Portrait of the Artists as Young Men

#1 Son and his proud mother   

It's Monday morning. Pure Luck, after a weekend of heroic driving, has gone out for an early walk before we pick the dogs up at the kennel. The Princess is in the shower, up betimes hoping to make muffins for breakfast.  The boys are asleep in their third floor bedroom, unlikely to arise anytime soon.

The end of the school year, the end of university life, weigh heavily on them. #1 Son will surely visit Hiptastic again–we saw many of his older friends there for graduation–but it will not be the same. Snowman has another year to go at Land o'Lakes Arts Academy, but even that will be different: new clarinet teacher, new classmates, others gone on to college.

And in just a few weeks Snowman will go to camp at Land o'Lakes, which is sort of like going to Opposite Month. the dorms and the practice rooms are forbidden, and the previously verboten cabins and practice huts will be his new homes for life and music.

#1 Son will rest up for a few weeks then return to Non-Contiguous New England State to work at the Festival of Arts and Ideas, his second summer there. When he comes home, serious planning for the fall will begin, while he works–well, wherever–to put some money away to finance his move to New York City.

But I am getting ahead of ourselves here. A festival day continues to run through our heads. CNN is showing Barack Obama on the dais at Hiptastic. Follow the link to the student run blog that will connect you to all sorts of coverage. He shook my son's hand, and all the other hands. He gave an inspiring speech about the need for service. Here was my favorite part, both so Congregational and so patriotic, in the sense I understand it:

“It’s because you have an obligation to yourself, because our
individual salvation depends on our collective salvation. Because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger
than yourself that you realize your true potential and discover the
role you’ll play in writing the next great chapter in America’s story.”

But what meant as much to me came in the brief remarks of the poet Jamaica Kinkaid, who rose to receive her honorary doctorate and prefigured Obama's speech when she encouraged us to remember that inspiring people do not come along every day, and that seeing one, we ought to "grab that someone and go."

Wesleyan 053
Today I find my own children inspiring. Coming home in the rented van full of college detritus, they cried and they comforted each other. They compared their art forms, the openness needed to go beyond technical skills to create something truly expressive in music or acting, to find the meaning in the text or the score.

I love them.

I love the way they cried over leaving their friends. I love the way they lapsed into excited talk about video games. I love the way they talked about Joyce and Faulkner and Rammstein (that's a German Industrial Metal Band, in case you're wondering). I love the way they fell asleep next to each other in the back seat, their heads bobbling like babies, proof they are not completely grown up, not just yet.

Art is a form of service to the world, a way of expressing truth and sharing beauty, and I am proud of my two young artists and eager to see where life will lead them, what they will give to all of us.

24 thoughts on “Portrait of the Artists as Young Men”

  1. proud mamma! do you truly believe art is a form of service to the world? i’ve been pondering that very thing… if it could be i mean.

  2. Absolutely, hotcup. There are many different callings that lead to that collective salvation, and art can be a part of it, I believe it.

  3. i’m tearing up at the image of your boys in the van.

  4. huge, huge smile at the beauty of it all. congratulations to your son. so glad for goodness right now in your life…

  5. You have beautiful children, inside and out, Songbird. What gifts they will be to the world.

  6. So very special. So very inspiring….the hope of a life just waiting to be lived!

  7. Art had better be part of it, or I’m not playing.
    Saw the CNN clip yesterday, and thought of you. What a beautiful day, on so many levels.

  8. Beautiful boys, beautiful post. Thanks for the inspiring words regardig art as a service to the world and our collective salvation; with a daughter who simply cannot stop singing, cannot stop writing songs, this is a good thing I want to share with her.
    Loved the pictures. You are beaming!!!

  9. What love, ambition, pride, and hope all mixed up here: good wishes to all of you today.

  10. I can’t remember exactly how she puts it but Madeline L’Engle’s “Walking on Water” and the connections she draws between our (imago dei) creativity and God’s creativity comes to mind in this conversation about art and life and salvation.

  11. Oh, I love this reflection, Songbird. We are going to the highschool graduation of our youngest tomorrow. Not college, but still, that sense of profound transformation, new horizons, a kind of deep softness at my hope for her future is all there–your post reminds me of all that. She, too, is an artist, planning to major in piano. She talks a lot about authenticity, her own and how music tracks with it. And I can see how she is approaching it. It’s powerful.

  12. I really lovedd this post – such handsome young men! And a very proud mother. I do have a question about your son’s camp – how is it opposite??

  13. Beautiful. You’ve done a good job, Songbird. Wonderful children to be proud of, congratulations!

  14. Wow…your reflection is beautiful. I have been wanting to record my thoughts about my boys as they conclude this year, and our older son heads into his senior year in high school. Your writing is encouraging me.
    You and Pure Luck are blessed, dear Songbird!

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