Finding God in: Art, Music, and Literature & Writing
by Martha Louise Doolittle, September, 2018
It was a roundtable class series, with questions answered by panelists in my Sunday School this summer. The questions got my heart racing, my mind blowing and my fingers flying to answer for myself. And then I thought, why not share my answers and start a conversation - with you. So come on in, crash on my comfy gold chair, hear my story and, if you are inspired, tell me yours.
Here's how it started...
How did your love of the arts develop? ...an early influential book, music, visual art piece? ...a particular experience or memory?
As early as I can remember, the arts have been a part of my life, even before I knew what that meant. In fact, a legacy of arts was started generations before I was born. But where does the fruit of the legacy tree come from? Nature or Nurture?
My Mother’s father was a Salvation Army Band leader and a sign painter; her mother played the organ and wrote novels, hand bound with magazine illustrations. My Grandmother’s mother had a lyric soprano voice that was true to her last breath at age 101; she also wrote and performed plays in her attic and forced the neighborhood children to be her audience. My Father’s mother was a watercolor artist. My Father still plays the piano by ear - hymns and tunes from the 30’s and 40’s are his repertoire. I remember going to sleep, as a child, to the sound, wishing with all my heart that I could play like him one day. He also draws. Early in my childhood, my Mother began her writing career and I began to learn how the magic happens. She was a working mother: when we were home in the summer, she was not to be disturbed til lunch time, unless someone was dying. In her last years, she realized her dream of painting as therapy during Cancer treatments.
When I was around 6 years old my family took a 30 day tour of Europe before returning, from the Netherlands, to the States as an Air Force Family. On that trip we must have visited every museum, castle, church and amusement park in Europe. My little eyes were filled with the work of the Masters and my father’s copious photo slides (remember carousels on a projector?) kept these images vivid and present in my memory as I grew up.
My parents’ reel-to-reel tape recorder was a brown and beige model, portable, with a removable cover. My earliest memories of music from this box was Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, read by my mother, with Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty Waltz in the background. At the tender age of 4 or 5, I “read” along in the book with Disney images - one small picture of Maleficent struck such terror in me, I would close my eyes when we were on that page. Prokokiev’s Peter and the Wolf was also a favorite, especially when I had my tonsils removed (in a German hospital) and languished on the couch with soup and ice-cream. In retrospect it was rather dark fare for children but the foundations were laid for music appreciation. During my childhood we visited the local libraries in every city we lived in (I lost count after 5) where Mom borrowed 10 or more albums at a time, to record and play on our reel-to-reel, and then our turntable.
It was not surprising that I became a bookworm. Anne of Green Gables and Laura Ingalls Wilder were my best friends when no friend could be found on the playgrounds. Romantic to the core, I was reading Jane Eyre, and Little Women, in elementary school; I discovered Gone with the Wind by middle school. I devoured every book in English class. Classic literature and fantasy/sci-fi were my constant companions. I was also writing and telling my own stories. I loved a good story and the more complex the characters and situations, the more I liked them. They were my escape from reality into belonging.
My profile in the professional women's website, Levo.com (check it out), reads: “Word-smith and Image-Crafter: Exploring new ways to show stories with words and images, using writing, visual art and performance.” My LinkedIn profile says this: “I am a visual and performance artist with strong administrative skills and a passion for exploring innovative ideas. I design and produce multi-disciplinary projects and productions in arts and worship; write for other voices as well as my own in communication, proposals and reporting; create stories and develop authors in scriptwriting; and design and construct costumes and promotional materials. I love finding new ways to tell a story.”
The apple falls directly under the tree and I am just blessed to have such a tree for lineage and learning, creating shade under which to curl up with a good book.
What's your story?