This is my first blog post without my friend Mark Kessler in the world. He was 48.
I remember he tried to teach me how to blog in 2007, at a workshop with 4 students. I think I was just learning the word “blog,” while Mark was running several websites like a breeze and was excited to share what he knew. Patiently and with humor, this gentle art minister set up the platform I needed so we could tell the world how amazing art and faith can be when linked together. Back then our “studio” was just a bedroom-sized storage room in the back of the church, we had no budget… and you know what? It was what we had. At the end of our training session, I thanked him, and in reply Mark seriously requested a 30-foot rotating hydraulic easel for our art studio, you know, like the one Chuck Close has. Um, denied, Mark. Denied.
Tonight in 2014 I’m sitting at my dining room table after Mark’s memorial service, blowing my nose and blinking through tears at the boring yet necessary financial paperwork for 2015’s art supplies that will stock our studio’s ministry to the public. And all I can think of is:
This stuff really, really matters.
Those numbers I’m asking for when I fill out my paperwork matter. That cabinet drawer where the charcoal and pastels will be placed matters. That bumpy plastic surface where artists will rub reliefs of richly-colored crayons matter. Our postcard welcoming strangers to the art studio matters. Loving people through art, like Mark Kessler did, matters. This stuff matters.
Mark’s wax resist drawings of quirky downtown buildings? They matter especially now, because he cannot add more to his collection. The sketchbooks filled with Mark’s creativity and imagination matter. The time for one man’s imagining on paper is finished. And he finished well. What we have of his, is all we have.
Yet now I believe Mark is creating on a whole new level. I mean really creating! It makes me weep, longing for the day when my friend will grab me in an embrace and welcome me into heaven, to the place where all is beauty.
So Mark, here’s something I carry of you: You taught me to blog all those years ago? I know, I’ve been too shy. I’ve been painfully hesitant to share our everyday silliness and the beat of this art family creating together. Reluctant to broadcast my heart and dreams for this art ministry and for countless art ministries beyond ours. No more.
This post is dedicated to you, Mark, and the next post, and the next. It’s all I have, and I’ll put it out there for the world to see. I want to love and honor my city through art the way you did. I will let my art overflow my sketchbooks and canvases, because I’m just now realizing: this time is all I have.
This 24 hours today: What will I create with them? What will I bestow through them?
Create in heavenly exuberance, my brother. I can’t wait to see you again.
Mark Kessler’s posthumous art exhibit “New Eyes” is currently on display at Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Boise until January 11, 2015, as part of “Light of the World” VineArts Leader Christmas Exhibit.