I appreciate being disrupted…sometimes.
God has a way of disrupting my flow or routine in some way to help me slow down. Andrew Peterson is one of those artists God has used to help me do that. Consequently, Peterson’s work disrupts my heart. I feel recalibrated and ready to see life differently. Why? Because as a good artist, he tells the truth beautifully.
Andrew Peterson recently published two books that defy our culture’s craving for reasoned propositional truth. Don’t get me wrong, his structure and logical reasoning are impeccable, but he has a way of getting past your mind to stir your heart. And that can be disruptive.
It was for me.
Recalibration starts with a kind of disruptive dismantling and aims to reorder and align the elements according to their original design. That’s what these two books do - they were written to recalibrate your heart.
Recalibrate How You Create
One of my favorite things about his first book Adorning the Dark: Thoughts on Community, Calling, and the Mystery of Making, is how he works through his imperfections and inconsistencies. He calls his life a “faltering journey as a songwriter, storyteller and Christian.” That’s how I feel.
But he doesn’t stop there. I love how he takes ideas from John 1 and deliberately connects himself and his creative process to the Lord. He prays, “Give us words and be with us in this beginning of this creation; Jesus you’re the light of the world: light our way into this mystery.”
And he’s talking about writing a song. It’s a faltering process because he’s an imperfect being, but in his connection with the Maker, light shines where he could not. That’s the original design. It’s why there’s mystery in making.
Made to Tell the Truth Beautifully
I am recalibrated by reading his book title alone. We cannot presume to create something beautiful and adorn a dark world, entering into the biblical cultural mandate on our own and in our own strength or wisdom. No. In the very first chapter, he reminds us that even Bach knew this would be impossible to do well. The great composer not only included the words Soli Deo Gloria at the end of his manuscripts, but Jesu Juva (Latin for Jesus, help!) right at the top.
Speaking of help, this book highlights the fact that we were made to tell the truth beautifully within a community as well, and that in the process, art both nourishes community and then community nourishes art. I’ve seen this come alive in my own family. As we pursue the Lord together and create together, we draw closer and what we make together is something so much greater than its parts.
If God has invited us to join Him, then, falteringly as it may be, we will join Him.
A New Book by Andrew Peterson
In October of 2021, after a year of Covid, Andrew Peterson released another one called The God of the Garden: Thoughts on Creation, Culture, and the Kingdom.
I sense his humility even in the word “thoughts”. Peterson readily acknowledges that he is no “expert”. These are the words of a traveler.
At the beginning of the first book, he clarifies, “There’s no doubt in my mind that what’s shaped me and my work more than any particular talent on my part has been living out a calling in the midst of a Christ-centered community.”
This new book is about how he has lived out his calling, how he has grown. How in his travels, he has learned to live in community and stay honest about his struggles. He very transparently shares of bouts with depression, talking with a counselor, and finding himself unable to move from the puddle of tears he made on the floor of a broom closet 5 minutes before his Christmas concert.
Honesty and Transparency
Wow. He is really honest about every tear and every struggle. What a rare model in a world of perfect professionals — of top-in-their-field experts who have learned to operate their avatar very well outside the walls of their homes.
Maybe I can be real too…like him.
He speaks of how he and his wife have learned to settle into their home in Nashville. He has learned to operate more slowly amid the rush.
Trees, a guiding image throughout the book, have become a fascination and a message. As a tree settles into its place to witness, so must we. Peterson has grown to love his garden and has learned how the gentle Gardener of heaven has, all along, tended and nurtured his heart.
What an image. This is another reason I resonate with Andrew Peterson. He’s constantly talking about trees and the outdoors, and the night sky. I love music, wood, and creativity. Trees inspire me. Water confounds me. The night sky astounds me.
So I take more frequent walks now, but not just to clear my head. I want to really see what is around me. My daughter introduced me to an App called Picture This that allows me to know the names of the trees I walk under. I think about how long they’ve been there and what they’ve seen. How is my neighborhood so charming all of a sudden?
Recalibrate How You Operate
Andrew Peterson’s guiding words help recalibrate how I operate. I can slow down, see His creation, know the place He has given and be a part of how He is making all things new.
I love how he honors the Savior by making Him first, trusting in His creative power to renew and restore vision, and to lead people to recalibrate their heart to His truth.