In the Midst of Pain // Whitney Ostercamp

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The good people of Made New Creative asked me to write a post about some things I’m into and what inspires my creative processes. I had a really hard time thinking of very specific things and had some time this week to think about well gosh, what DOES inspire me?! I’m really into the St. Louis food scene, and I really like the Popcast (especially in their recaps of Bachelor episodes) but does it really inspire my creative work? No.

In looking back over the songs I’ve written for the church, I can say that they were all inspired by the same thing: current events.

Perhaps it’s just because I’ve grown a little older, but after moving back to St. Louis,  I find myself listening to and reading more and more news. I have made it a point to get my news from several different sources, including those that are clearly more liberal and also conservative, as well as those that truly seem to just be reporting unbiased facts. Being informed and knowing what is going on in the world causes my heart to stir and results in a need to respond. Everyone responds to news differently, and that’s a beautiful thing. For me, my response typically comes in the form of a song.

News --> Personal Emotional Response --> Song

“We Are Your Love” and “Kingdom Come” were born out of my heart breaking in the midst of the Ferguson news and Black Lives Matter movement. “Be Near to Us” was written as tears streamed down my face in a cry for God to be near to my family as they experienced the death of a close friend.  “Holy Child” was written after story upon story of world nations disagreeing and flooded the news.

My challenge to you creatives out there is to stay informed and in touch with what’s happening in the world, in your country, in your city, even in your own family, and then respond with a song. Jot down lyrics that you just need to get out, that you want others to hear, and perhaps ones they can relate to. Then pick up a guitar or sit down at your keyboard and noodle around with some chords that align with the message you want to convey in your response.  

Right now, it seems that the news is full of horrible, heart wrenching stories. Even in the midst of pain, art flourishes. Respond by writing about how your heart is breaking alongside those in the news. Respond by writing a song of justice or peace. Respond by writing a song of hope or how to find joy into a world of hurt.

Sometimes it’s hard to feel “inspired” when the world seems so broken, but that’s when some of our most beautiful art can come forward and truly change the lives of those who need it the most. I’ll leave you with this quote, as it inspired me this past week after hearing of the shooting in Parkland, Florida. My friend Tyler shared it on Facebook, and it’s stuck with me throughout the week. After learning of Kennedy's assassination, Leonard Bernstein responded by saying this:

We musicians, like everyone else, are numb with sorrow at this murder, and with rage at the senselessness of the crime. But this sorrow and rage will not inflame us to seek retribution; rather they will inflame our art. Our music will never again be quite the same. This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.”

Read his response in its entirety here.