Last January I received an invitation to write for Purpose magazine on the following theme:
God created humans with unique abilities and skills that must continue to make God smile through the generations. While some of the abilities are used to put bread on the table, others are gifts that we enjoy for fun and recreation. Hobbies are important to who we are and how we function as individuals and communities. How do our hobbies express our connections with God’s creation? How do they help us celebrate our own uniqueness? How do they enable us to relate to others?
As I read this brief description, I couldn’t help but add a question of my own:
How do hobbies help us love our neighbour?
In response, I wrote the following reflection.
My husband and I chose a print of Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night to hang above our fireplace mantel. In the foreground of the painting, a large cedar tree dominates the landscape and points to heaven. Moon and stars seem to pulse and swirl above the hillsides and sleeping village. Someday I’d love to see the original, which hangs in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
Today The Starry Night and Van Gogh’s other paintings are among the most well-known and most expensive paintings in the world. But during his lifetime, the artist was unknown and struggling—with debt, with his mental and emotional health, with his art. In one letter, he thanks his brother, Theo, for sending him a 50-franc note and asks him to send more money. “You are kind to painters,” he writes, “and I tell you, the more I think it over, the more I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people” (excerpted from Spark: Igniting Your God-Given Creativity by April Yamasaki, Herald Press, 2015).
You may or may not think of your hobby as art, but in keeping with Van Gogh’s comment, our hobbies can become “truly artistic” when they become avenues of loving other people.
Whether you play the piano, renovate a basement, make a photo album, write a computer program, enter a triathlon, take golf lessons, put together jigsaw puzzles, watch movies, or whatever else you do in your “spare” time, you can express your personal creativity and build relationships and care for other people.