Years ago I saw a movie made by an filmmaker from either Iraq or Afghanistan. I don’t remember its name, only that it was the story of a young boy who was blind, and there were scenes of mountains and fields of flowers. What I remember vividly is the prelude. The screen went black and then white Arabic script flashed across the blackness with its translation below: “To the glory of God.” There was silence and then the movie started.
The Australian poet, Les Murray, also opens his books of poetry with the same invocation: “To the glory of God.”
When it comes to art, it’s not difficult to see one is making one’s art for others, for the world, for God, whether or not it’s stated explicitly. Here is the best of me and not-me, the artist says, offering his art as a gift. And by artist, I mean anyone who does something with all their heart, so I also mean those who are artists of public service or teaching children or being a father and so on.
The other day I read the following passage in a Paulo Coelho book, describing what it would be like to approach “this day as the first day of my life”:
I am going to put on a shirt I often wear and, for the first time, I am going to notice how it was made. I am going to imagine the hands that wove the cotton and the river where the fibres of the plant were born. I will understand that all those now invisible things are a part of the history of my shirt.
I started thinking what would it be like, to give a twist to Coelho’s thought, to live the next hour, the next day, as if everything were for the glory of God. Every word, every thought, every gesture. I’d like to experience that.