Expecting Nothing In Return

I came across a timely quote today as I was doing some more pondering.  The quote was found on BrainyQuote.com, and is attributed to musician Matthew Sweet: “Creativity is much better when it’s free.  Someone can take it and sell it if that’s what it needs, and from that standpoint, you have to have a label.  If you could make your music and just give it away and somehow make a living – that would be the best scenario.”  Essentially, this blog is all about creativity and providing the fruits of it to anyone who cares to read it for free – my songs, my books, my life story and my thoughts about life in general.  There is a sense of perfect freedom in doing this.  Luckily I have a day job, but that’s not really the point – let me explain.

All of my writings were carefully preserved over the years, and only a select few had ever known about them, let alone read them.  I had thoughts of some day being a published author, but that day had never arrived – and everything was stored in boxes in the garage where no one was reading them anyway.  Then in a moment of serendipity a friend suggested that I start a blog – and I’ve never looked back.  Giving away my writings and songs for free is really the ultimate in creativity.  I work at my own direction, for my own pleasure and for my own higher purposes.  I have no one to answer to except God.  It is like the concept of unconditional love or forgiveness – it costs us nothing but provides us with everything in return.

Over the years when I gave it pause for consideration, I wondered about the value of prayer in an isolated and solitary way, such as monks or nuns living a life of seclusion and prayer.  I only began to understand the power of isolated prayer and works when I began writing songs.  I would work hard at writing a song, putting it on paper and practicing it at home.  As I never evolved into a real performer, all of my work and practice was essentially for myself – but in time I began to see the big picture in what was happening.  Since my songwriting ability began with a prayer, I was always very careful to preserve the work that I did and to treat it with utmost respect – writing everything down carefully, typing it all out, copywriting the work, and even making simple recordings to capture the final result.  I always did the same for my writings, with the notion that I was saving them for some greater purpose someday.

One day while I was practicing my music at home, I began to understand what was really important behind my creativity.  I realized that I spent a lot of time with my songwriting and very few people had actually heard any of my songs actually played.  I was as usual practicing them to myself and for myself.  My wife and son were in the house but involved in other activities and I was alone in a room practicing with the door closed.  It was then that I understood the purpose of it all.  It really doesn’t matter if no one else hears my music, I thought to myself – God hears it.  He is listening and watching and observing, and what God is listening to is the music of my heart.  My songs were a form of prayer, and God was the only listener.  Through my songs God knew my heart and my soul, which in the end is all we could ever ask for.  There can be no value placed on time alone with God – it’s priceless.

I then knew the value of an elderly grandmother living alone in a quiet life of prayer.  I knew the value of nuns and monks praying in isolated communities in a life of prayer and silence.  I knew why when we pray we are to do it in an isolated place and not on the street corner – because our prayers are God’s work and He is their intended audience in a direct link that requires no external measure of worth or value.  There is nothing in the entire universe that God isn’t intimately aware of, so He doesn’t need us to bring anything to His attention.  What God does need from us is to know and measure our heart, our desires, our hopes, our fears, our requests and our petitions.  Through prayer God weighs the intention of our heart, and answers our prayers in ways that are often beyond our understanding.  Our work, our lives and all that we do, is a continual prayer as we offer up to God the very best that our human hands can produce and our hearts can hold.  In this journey, any one piece of it or the entirety of our effort is not where the value actually lies – but it is in our heart and in our prayers that the value of our lives is actually measured – by God alone. 

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The Sailboat

The Sailboat

(Copyright 2004, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

We craft the sailboat;

God provides the materials and ability…

We chart our course;

God provides the wind, water and heavens above…

We reference the compass;

God provided the magnetism…

We navigate by the stars;

In heavens created and sustained by God…

We hold the rudder;

God directs the wind and currents…

The journey is ours;

The destination…God