Salieri and Studentdom

If I had a to-do list that held any kind of real weight in my life, I would write in bold, capitals WATCH AMADEUS. I’ve just returned from a design workshop in Charlottesville, Virginia. The trip was yet another journey into self-discovery and a brilliant respite from life in Chicago. Unfortunately, I have no eloquent reason to offer for not writing sooner. In fact, I was thoroughly disappointed in my less-than-ambitious use of free time in the well-preserved town where Jefferson is the claim to fame.
True to my “name,” I did wander about and enjoyed the downtown mall, brick streets, and used book shops. The price of food and entertainment has quite certainly kept up with the times and I daresay they are actually ahead of the ‘downtowns’ I’m used to.

But, that aside, I am such a jumble of jacks! Back to Salieri…
The workshop was hosted by a design company that works primarily with Christian non-profit clients (of which we are one). I hardly believed I was going until I rushed the Blue Line on Sunday to get to O’Hare.

I immediately felt comfortable and welcome in the house-converted-to-office just blocks from the adorable colonial inn where I was staying.

As I sat in the workshops, I found myself returning to my thoughts on the theology of work. The wonderful people at Journey very much incorporated these ideas into their interaction with the editing/designing world. One of the presenters used several references to the movie Amadeus, which follows the story of Salieri and Mozart. Salieri was a well-known composer of his time, but lacked the genius of Mozart to create new, inspired music. He tells the story of his failures as Mozart’s music eventually crowded out Salieri and his mediocrity brought depression and jealousy.

The journey presenter said at one time, “Basically Salieri could recognize genius but couldn’t create it.” I’ve always known the story of Mozart, but never in this context (I know – where’s my mother’s influence on this one, right?). I was at once captured by the philosophy and theology behind this rivalry.

Though we can never truly be creators, God’s creativity can flow through us into astounding portraits, prose, and pieces of music.

What will we settle for? God desires nothing less than excellence.
Again I go back to C.S. Lewis’ frustrated assertion that we are content to play in mud puddles when we could be vacationing on the shores.

I felt so blessed to also have had the chance to talk to several experienced and wise professionals. I sorted through options and explained my odd peace about graduating without a five-year plan. They were all very encouraging and their own stories evidenced once again the blessings that come through obedient steps of faith.

I thought this little anecdote pushed perpetual studentdom past a graduation date:

Once, while giving a lecture at a seminary, Billy Graham was asked a pointed question by a student. “Why,” he began, “with the horrible state of the world, should we stay in school instead of jumping into the field?” Dr. Graham told the class about the wisdom of the woodsman who took the time each morning to sharpen his ax before he went into the forest to cut down trees. He then turned to the student and said, “Sharpen your ax.”

Can you imagine cutting a tree with a dull ax? I think I’ve tried it before and the tree still stands, stubborn thing.