Andrew Peterson is a singer-songwriter and author, who has composed some of my favorite songs (Is He Worthy?, Dancing in the Minefields, and You’ll Find Your Way to be specific). The first two redesigned hardcover editions of his fantasy series, The Wingfeather Saga, are sitting on my bookshelf, waiting for me to finished reading the How to Train Your Dragon series and rereading The Chronicles of Narnia.
Yesterday, however, I finished his latest book, Adorning the Dark: Thoughts on Community, Calling, and the Mystery of Making. In this book, Peterson writes about his “own faltering journey as a songwriter, storyteller, and Christian” (xiii). The accounts of that journey are entertaining to read, and the ideas that he attaches to them are worth meditating upon. Particularly, the repeated display of community’s crucial role in creating art is a much needed reminder that John Donne’s words are remain true: no man is an island.
Perhaps the greatest strength of the book is the sehnsucht (which he notes was described by C. S. Lewis as “inconsolable longing”) that is present throughout. The yearning of one’s heart for more is a significant factor behind the greatness of the works of both Lewis and Tolkien. They arouse within us a hunger that the finest delicacies of this world cannot satisfy, a restlessness that only God Himself can calm. Paradoxically, while this kind of longing sets our gaze above this earth, it it also makes us all the more eager to play our part and do our work while we still have energy left to expend.
Here is one such passage that particularly called me to arms:
Those of us who write, who sing, who paint, must remember that to a child a song may glow like a nightlight in a scary bedroom. It may be the only thing holding back the monsters. That story may be the only beautiful, true thing that makes it through all the ugliness of a little girl’s world to rest in her secret heart. May we take that seriously. It is our job, it is our ministry, it is the sword we swing in the Kingdom, to remind children that the good guys win, that the stories are true, and that a fool’s hope may be the best kind.p. 123
Obviously, I write, and I hope I do so creatively and soaked in grace, reminding all who read that the good guys will win. I pray this to be true not simply with more artistic endeavors like poetry but with my sermons as well. In fact, reading this book sparked an idea for a piece of fiction to write.
Peterson’s notes from the journey are an encouragement and challenge to us fellow travelers. I strongly recommend reading Adorning the Dark.