It’s remarkable how well we remember places where conversations sparked our imagination. We spend most of our days involved in work, study and life in general, but sometimes an unexpected exchange of ideas can resonate with thoughts that have been brewing inside of us. In these moments, our mind seems to capture all the small details of these places in one wonderful photographic process.

Some time ago, Ardie and I were drinking beers at a nearby lake. While the sun was slowly setting down and the first coolness of the night arrived, we talked about the things that we are currently passionate about. At this time of the day, the lake is mostly quiet and peaceful. The only other people around, a young couple who were teaching their son how to build a campfire, filled the air with the sound of contagious laughter and the smell of burned wood. Together with the sound of birds and the crickets that started their evening routine, these impressions all seemed to reinforce each other and emerge into a lively image.

Looking out over the lake, Ardie explained the reason to create his upcoming project Paper Branches. People who have met Ardie know that once he starts talking about his greatest passion, which is inspiring others by making music, something seems to ignite in him. His entire face lits up, and stories come out like a running streams of water. By listening to the way he talks about his new songs for Paper Branches, I noticed how Ardie seems to have found a narrative that explains the beauty that he finds in melodies and nature. Again, it struck me that, in Ardie’s case, making music is not a choice. It is something that flows automatically. Something natural.

The song The Garden perfectly captures this feeling. As Ardie writes on his Instagram page, the basis for this song flows from a melody that has been present in his mind for a long time: ‘There was a melody I heard as soon as I closed my eyes and walked into a garden, carried by her sweet chords and underlying harmonies’. According to Ardie, this melody is not only a part of his creative process – it is an important part of himself. He says, ‘by making this music I feel I become more my natural self, which is fully inspired by the things I see and the things that were put in me before the beginning of time’. Similar to The Garden, most of the themes in the songs in the Paper Branches project draw from moments in which Ardie experienced God in many surprising ways. Whether it is the exciting moment to discover a passage in the Bible that describes the existence of a book that documents every story that was ever told (The Book of Remembrance) or a description of the process of waiting for the Beloved (No Sweeter Taste).

During our conversation, Ardie explained that all these individual songs have contributed to a greater understanding of God and his own place in creation. Creating songs is for him both a process to understand creation as well as a way to express his love for all that was created. He says: ‘I feel that we were made with a sense of greatness and a touch of splendour. Everything that we produce automatically flows out of something greater because we are part of something greater’. By making his songs public, Ardie hopes to share this process with other people and to inspire them to look for the small glimpses of mystery and beauty in every day life.

Definitely the glimpses of beauty that can be found in captivating conversations at a nearby lake is considered as a great example of this.

Written by Michiel van de Kamp

Photo by Janis Skulme