When asked about my motto, I only have to look as far as my last sent email. My motto is included in my signature:
Ars Longa – Vita Brevis – Deus Eternus
Art is Long – Life is Short – God is Eternal
Hippocrates is credited with the first two statements and the basic meaning is that while life is short, what we create (craft) will live on past our earthly existence. I believe this to be true and not just in arena of artistic pursuits, but in all of the positive and beautiful things we bring into our daily lives. It is also true in the legacy we leave that is wrapped up in our beliefs and world view. Those grand ideas will be passed on as will some of the unfortunate traits we would rather deny.
However, my world view would not allow me to rest with “Ars longa – vita brevis.” God is eternal eclipsing both life and all we do that is good. Our very best goodness is as filthy rags when compared to the infinite goodness of God. Similarly, our very best contributions to the beauty of this world pale in comparison to the wonder and beauty of God’s creation.
So I choose to pray the prayer of the psalmist in Psalm 90:12 that God would teach me to number my days … because life is short. And I will be mindful of the warning given in Ephesians 5:15-16 to make the most of the time.
I also choose to follow the creative nature within me as one created in the image of God – the One Who created all that is – the One Who insisted on art in the tabernacle (Exodus 31) – the One Who inspired the art in the temple (1 Kings 6) – the One Who has made everything beautiful in its time (Ecclesiastes 3:11.) Things of beauty are truly transcendent.
However, as important as life is and as important as art is, they are both fleeting. Only God is eternal and everlasting. So my ultimate focus is on the Eternal One – the source of life and art.
C. T. Studd in his poem, “Only One Life,” concludes each stanza with the line “Only what’s done for Christ will last.” Whatever I find to do with the time I have been given on this planet I must do it for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31) because art is long and life is short, but God alone is eternal.