May 2004 Archives
Bryan and I are enjoying the sunshine on a holiday weekend. We are out doing chores, him vacuuming the pool in his never-ending quest for perfect swimming, and me pulling ivy. He takes a break and shifts gears. Having the need to work some sort of power tool he heads for the shed further up our hill. He calls down to me...
"I have a moral dilemma".
"What?" I respond not being able to see his face and totally curious because he is the most moral person I have ever known, how can he have a moral dilemma?
He informs me that he has discovered a kitten near the shed, apparently abandoned by it's mother. My jaw drops in response and in a flash I am entertaining ideas of nursing the little creature to health...but wait... I am bounced back to reality. We are a no pet family for various reasons one of which is I am extremely alergic... especially to cats.
In any case I am compelled to take a look, and the moment I do my compassionate husband says...
"Now it's your moral dilemma". Him knowing me well enough that safe to say I will deal with the situation practically. Having been born on a farm, although short-lived, the few years I spent there taught me that mother nature is cruel and kittens abandoned by their mothers tend not to survive for a reason. But I put on my trusty garden gloves and pick it up. It is tiny and grey with blue eyes...
I sit here working. The view from my desk is of our backyard. First there is my herb garden, then a grassy slope down to a pool and a forest. Sometimes I see deer there. But today something obstructs my view. My mutant lettuce. As I wrote before, I am leaving it to grow just to see what happens. But It is starting to look like something out of a bad sci-fi movie, like Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (one of my favorites). Except of course Attack of the Killer Lettuces would be less bloody because there is nothing red in lettuce. Anyway, looking at it I have to wonder if this is one of those things that resulted from the fall. Did eve wake up after that awful day to find giant lettuces taking over her garden?
I need to measure it.
On with my birkenstocks, I grab one of the many tape measures we have laying around the house from all our remodling and tromp outside. I try to avoid stepping on all the polite little herb plants that surround THE LETTUCE. They haven't complained yet but if THE LETTUCE gets any taller it will threaten their sunlight. Standing in the middle of the garden I measure.
It is 67 inches tall.
Which means it is 7.25 inches taller than I am.
I have been thinking about her alot lately. She is my husband's aunt. His father's sister. In her 60's. Everytime I have encountered her she exuded servanthood. Coming from a conservative church upbringing I always wondered how she managed to forge through life ultimately to be ordained and pastor a church. Not that the family didn't support her, they just didn't talk about it. When it came to ministry it seemed easier to discuss my husband's music ministry in greater depth than what Gladys was doing...
today I need to produce a visual string of the apostles creed. so i will read it and think.
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell.
The third day He arose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,
whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.
after some reflection on these words I feel the need to weed my garden. Maybe I got as far as "earth" and that set me off. I do know when I create like this I need to be true to the whispers of god or ultimately what is created is less than it should be. So instead of just launching into production mode I need to weed...
Armed with my funny foam knee pads...
I have a thought (or two) about art, the artist, and the dance between the creation of art for the sake of communicating gods truth and creating art as a response to god as an act of worship. These are two very different approaches to life as an artist. I beleive they can coexist but need to be recognized as different. One, the act of communication through visuals assumes that the viewer (target) will have a response. There is a goal. Simplistically, if you show a group of people an image of something touching or tender you may be hoping that the image will illicit a touching or tender response. This is one way to do art, with an expected or desired reaction of the viewer.
I am presently exploring another way. An act of worship unfettered by my thoughts of what others will think, or more importantly, what I want them to think. This approach sometimes seems selfish to me because it appears to not have a goal, and therefore must be self indulgent. I know that is ridiculus, but it is a part of my personality that I struggle with, and unfortunately a part that is reinforced and rewarded by our present culture. What does a pure artistic act of worship look like? When I am prompted by the creator to create it seems unreasonable at first. If I follow my creative instincts within that moment, feeling, inspiration (whatever) something truly amazing happens. Not only am I rewarded with a sense of fulfillment that takes place at finishing a work of art, but I have a very strong sense of being with god. The act of creating while in worship is like being in the same room with the master, touching, having him guide your hands...
I had a conversation with a good friend recently. This friend has been a friend for years and years. His denominational journey has gone from Episcipal to Charasmatic to Presbetyrian (nine years as one and still don't know how to spell it) to finally Baptist-ish. The conversation was a casual thing after a sunday lunch in which my husband had volunteered to lead worship at his church (whole nother story). Anyway, somehow we landed on "emergent women leaders". I realized that this is going to be a fresh and interesting journey for me when his initial reaction was laughing acompanied by a pantomime of the creature in the movie "alien" bursting out of it's victim's chest. I am a huge movie buff so I found it mildly funny because the name had conjored up some interesting imagery for me as well. But there was something else. An awkwardness. A need for greater explanation. I wasn't sure what to say. The fact that it needed explaining beyond the general who what, info made me realize a few things. Some people are uncomfortable with this. Even those closest to me.
Creative fires may be burning today, but it is too early to really tell. It is only 8 in the morning and what artist in their right mind would be creative so early. So I wait. There are a number of things that need to be done today. Pesky chores, the kind that keep things running. I am so uninspired by the chores that need repeating. Laundry is an example. It never ends. The instant you finish the last load you aren't really finished due to the outfit you have on. Short of running around naked, I can have no closure in laundry.
Cooking comes in at a close second. Although my husband views cooking as a sport I regard it simply as another chore. Although there is a creative element to it, I am uninspired by the fact that the creation, once eaten, disappears. I guess I have a need for my creative "children" to hang around for awhile. So cooking is no good.
But today the chores are more of the business type. Bookeeping, filing, etc. The boring parts of my business. But since I feel blessed by having a business that alows me to work at home I welcome even the pesky chores. So maybe it is good that the creative fires arent burning at the moment. I can get some of the less than creative work done first.
fettered by the chains of sin in my life
I choose joy
bound and gagged by its unrelenting
you gave me joy
crippled and marred
I must have joy
you offer joy
consumed by the unjustified image of myself leaves me tetering on the edge
I partake of your joy
and am healed
You know the moment of confusion that comes right before the acceptance of a new concept. Depending on how pliable you are determines the length of that moment. I am pliable, so my moments tend to be brief. I readily accept a new concept delivered to me by someone who must be smarter than me (everyone). What concepts? Anything big or little.
What I have recently discovered is that moment of confusion is discernment. And he is a friend. He has a big brother called conviction. Conviction is the pesky thing that comes back at you after the initial, and for me too brief moment of confusion disappears to be replaced with the accepted new concept that just happens to be wrong. The accepting of a concept without letting it bounce around your brain a bit, travel down to your heart, and maybe survive the whole grid of your being that determines whether an idea is wise or stupid. Acceptance of a stupid idea invites conviction to return to haunt you like a hair in the drain. Everything seems fine and then one day in the middle of the shower you look down and there it is. A big hairy clog.
It is like being told you are ugly. Everyone has had the experience in one form or another no matter how attractive they are. The moment you hear the words there is the gut response of, No, followed by "they must be right" (acceptance of a bad idea). Eventually conviction swoops in to right the wrong, and you realize that you aren't ugly. Not even close. Then you wonder how you got confused.
I am reflecting on the act of blog. when I emailed my sister that I was going to start blogging she responded with "I hate to admit it but I have no idea what blogging is." I had to laugh but only for a moment because I didn't know what it was until a year ago and it has taken me this long to get around to trying it. It amazes me how something begins in a culture, like a new buzz word, bling-bling, or a new fashion, or the sudden urge to go buy an SUV when you never really wanted one. Or to blog. The phenomenon started in our house with Daniel. At 16 he has already been involved in cyber community for a few years. I have always considered myself a pretty hip mom but I didn't really get the concept of blogging. At first. Then I started reading. Reading other peoples blogs made me understand a bit more, and as a parent, being able to read your kid's blog, well that's just great. You get a different perspective on them as a person. It's cool.
So here I am. I know enough to realize that in our isolation we crave community, and blog seems to feed some of that craving. But it is funny. I struggle with it a little because at first it seems so arrogant. Who the heck is going to read this? Who do I think I am talking to? I have gotten wrapped up in those questions and it stopped me from doing it. Self publish. Is that the goal? To many questions. The kind that occur when a new form of something hits the scene and not everybody buys in at first. Wasn't it like that when the first automobiles came out? So here I am left standing in the road.
Well, part of what I didn't get was how people found the time. And yet I have been dogging myself for a year to do "morning pages". This is an exercise done to stimulate the artistic brain suggested by Julie Cameron author of The Artist's Way. So in order to justify the time taken to blog I am making it my "morning pages". Even though in Julie's world these pages are meant to be in longhand, and that no one is suposed to read them. Oh well.
So here I jump. Into the rushing stream that once was just a trickle. Hoping that if there are any rapids they aren't acompanied by jagged rocks of criticism. I will add my tiny drops to the drops of others and as they combine my hope is that the ocean that is created washes us with greater tolerance, patience and love. Did somebody start to play a violin? Or maybe it was Moby.