Weekly Inspiration // Ryan Hebel

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Here we are on the cusp of a new season in the midwest (Come on Spring!!!), and inspiration is everywhere!  I always find myself inspired as one season fades away and a new one arrives, expected yes, but nonetheless dramatic in fashion.  Something about the visceral nature of it all forces my body, and consequently my heart and mind, to pay attention, take stock, and respond to the upheaval in a new way.  Like a spring storm, the power of God’s presence rumbles through again and again, drawing my eyes in wonder and sometimes leaving me running for cover.  But in the midst of it all, despite the accompanying uncertainty, one thing is for sure: God is making all things new again, and we all get to be a part of it.  Here are a few of the things that are inspiring me this week, as winter slowly retreats and new life fights springs forth once again.  

Walking to school:
There is something special about watching the neighborhood come to life as I walk with my kids to the neighborhood elementary school in the morning.  As other children and parents pour out of their houses and join us along they way it is inspiring to watch and take part in the gathering of the community around the school.  Different homes, different people, and different circumstances shape who we are and how we respond to one another and taking part in this daily ritual helps to remind me of the beauty and diversity that we share together in the neighborhood.  The short walk also makes me slow down and notice things that I would otherwise miss as a new season unfolds, children grown and change, and the blocks around my house continue to evolve with the passing of time.  It’s a great perspective from which to survey and approach the day and I’m grateful for this time with my kids and my neighbors each morning. 

Indie Film:
I had the opportunity to attend the Sundance Film Festival in January of this year and it was incredible.  I have continued to the inspiration from that experience with me into my life and work back her in STL, and it has ignited a new interest for me in indie film.  It’s really interesting to get to take part in experiencing a new film with an audience (and the director) for the first time and see the impact that it makes on people.  In fact, it reminded me a lot of experience we share in worship each week as the congregation gathers to encounter and response the living God in a fresh and powerful way, and it got me pretty fired up again about the power and beauty in communal experiences of God and art.  The way they work together and inform one-another and the way that we are invited into that experience at the gathered Church it truly transformational.  In addition, I'm working on possibilities for partnership with the St. Louis International Film Festival this yea, and on various projects in the future, and I'm excited about the work they are doing to promote indie film here in town.  

My DSLR:
On a related note, I’ve discovered a renewed interest in my DSLR camera and the way the light interacts with the various landscapes and subjects I encounter.  I grew up learning to shoot on a Canon A1, learning the art of developing and print-making in a dark room in the basement of my church.  Maybe it shows my age, and perhaps as a result of this prior experience, I’ve long been intimidated by working with a DSLR camera and generally avoided it.  However some of my more recent experiences, like Sundance, have renewed my interest in film (both motion and still) and provided me the excitement and courage necessary to risk being uncomfortable with my gear in pursuit of learning and leveraging a powerful new tool for art.  Trying new things is scary, and sometimes a lot of work.  But it’s always worth it.  

Ableton LIVE and MIDI:
I’ve been getting back to into my music tech roots more and more lately, exploring and experimenting with the possibilities in the realm of electronic music, digital media, and remote control/sync for instruments, lighting, and video.  The possibilities are enormous and the ability to combine the amazing creative work of multiple genres and artists into something entirely new creates amazing opportunities and exponentially expands the palate for any artist or creative.  Neither Ableton LIVE or MIDI are new technology by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s incredible to see the evolution of the software and the protocol and how they grow to interact more seamlessly and powerfully with other hardware and software platforms in recent years.  I’m looking forward to carving out some more time to get creative with all of it and see what might spring forth!

Mosaic Church - Los Angeles:
Erwin McManus and MOSIAC and not new to the game by any means, but they are doing some incredible and spring things related to church and art out there in the LA metro as of late.  They are bold in their art-forward approach and their fast-growing multi-site strategy in an urban context.  Which, of course, really speaks to my heart for ministry through The Gathering and Made New Creative in STL and give me a new energy about the possibilities and promise of future ministry here.  Check them out!  And if you don’t know well… now you know.  

The artisans and craftsmen/women working on The Gathering’s new McCausland Site:
It’s all in the details, and the details are starting to come together over at the new McCausland Site.  There are a lot of incredible artists and craftsmen and women committed to some really special creativity and work in and around the new space and and the merging of all of it for the creation of a collective holy space where we will soon worship is an inspiration to me every time I stop by.  In addition to those building the actual building and preparing the site, there are metal artists, graphic designers/artists, painters, photographers, textile/pattern designers, videographers, AVL designers, interior designers, custom furniture builders, and more.  And they are all working hard, giving of their gifts and talents to create a new worship space that will be an inspiration for thousands of people in the years to come.  I will be sitting down with each of these contributing artists and chronicling the various artistic and creative aspects of the new site on this blog and on MNC social media from now until the opening of the building, when you can check it all out yourself!  This is going to be really cool, so keep it locked and check back often for great background stories on these artists and their creative work in the lead-up to the grand opening.  

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