Brief Note to the Young…

Steve Bell

I received a lovely email this morning by a 25 year-old man who recently attended a concert of mine.  It was brimming with intelligence and hope, and it filled me with good cheer.  In my response I wrote the following. I thought I’d reprint it here as an encouragement to the next generation whom I find endlessly facinating:

“Bill…thank you for telling me your age.  I’m intrigued by your generation. You are a smart and keen bunch; perhaps, more spiritually alert than the previous few. Yours has a capcacity for nuance and subtlety that I think will make a huge difference in future public expressions of good Christian faith and hope, which has sadly fallen into disrepute for reasons we mostly brought on ourselves.

Please continue to champion excellence, authenticity and tenacity. If Christians don’t maintain resilient hope for the true, the good, and the beautiful, who will?!  My generation (in some corners) seems to have settled for embattlement in un-winnable “cultural” skirmishes… thinking that this is what faithful witness is. I suspect these are often misguided, even if sincere. Christian witness must bear the character of God, whose interiority of co-inherent love imagined, caused, and sustains brooks and babies and plains and skies and mountains and melody and dance, and the like.

We are the consequence of Divine Delight.  This should translate into staggering, compassionate works of great imagination in the arts, in politics, in city planning, in husbandry, in architecture, in conflict, in crisis, in ceremony….”

This last year, when developing my current CD, I worked with a number of young people whose disciplined gifts and creative capacity were awe-inspiring. In times of cultural, environmental and economic crisis, one is tempted to despair.  And I sometimes do.  But then you meet up with some of these young, bright and brimming folk, and you are tempted to hope—and in turn resonate with ancients like Julian of Norwich who penned: “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”