Excerpts from An Artist's Prayer

Excerpts from a prayer offered by Makoto Fujimura upon accepting the 2014 American Academy of Religion Award in Religion and the Arts:
I pray that some day, in the near future, our children and our grandchildren will see an age when faith and life, art and scholarship, the rational and the intuitive will be so integrated that there will no longer be a need for this award....

I pray that artists will no longer have to be on the defensive as was Mary in that aroma-filled room while disciples grumbled that her perfume could have been sold to feed the poor. “What a waste,” they said. What a waste. Is our art wasteful, too?

Art is gratuitous. Art is extravagant. But so is our God. God does not need us; yet he created us out of his gratuitous love. Jesus astonished the disciples by giving Mary the highest commendation anyone receives in the pages of the Gospels:

“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” (Mark 14:6 -9)

I pray that in the days to come, this aroma will fill the air whenever the words of Gospel are spoken, that outsiders to faith will sense this extravagant air and feel it, particularly for them. I pray that when our children speak of faith, this gratuitous, intuitive aroma of the love of Christ will be made manifest in their lives....

I pray this sweet aroma of Christ will envelop us, hold us; that even in the darkest hours, this aroma will remind us why it is that we are here, why it is that we can lose everything and yet gain so much....

Ultimately, all I have said is a prayer and invitation to encounter the mystery of the Gospel, one which is still filled with the aroma of Mary of Bethany. I pray that this aroma will invade us too with love and hope. If my work has witnessed in some way to this extravagance of the Gospel, if it has refused these reductions or separations of art and religion, if I have brought my whole self to this work, filled with a great desire, then I have been one steward of this great garden. Without reduction, in the grace of this encounter, let us continue our work in the extravagance of the flower, in a tune that somehow keeps propelling us without words.

(Read the entire speech--and prayer--here)

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