Psalm 8

To me this Psalm is the artist’s Psalm. One translation of the opening line says something to the effect of your beauty is seen in all the earth – and I like it because it simply is not true. We walk by the beauty of this world every day – and I believe that is the point of this Psalm.

One definition of an artist is somebody who sees deeply into some aspect of life, and holds it up so that the rest of us get a chance to look at it with fresh eyes.

One of the challenges of being an artist, is the challenge of seeing life with fresh eyes. The author of this Psalm comments on some of the ways in which life crashes in on our humdrum existence, and confronts us with its sheer beauty – things like little children and the things that they say and do; and the beauty of the changing seasons, the stars, and other aspects of nature.

There is an old artist trick which consists of taking some object that exists within 50 feet of your front door – the most familiar and therefore the most neglected part of our life – setting it in front of us, and staring at it without moving our eyes for 15 minutes (set the timer). The magic usually happens somewhere around minute number six or seven. Suddenly instead of seeing the object in terms of its function (what it does for us) we see it in terms of design, and it jumps to life. There is a spillover effect of this exercise, because we start to see the world around us with the same design perspective. The effect fades of course, but then the exercise can be repeated.

The challenge of the last part of this Psalm is that if we are indeed given responsibility for caring for this planet, how can we possibly expect to fulfill that task if we can’t even really see the world that’s around us?