today I create.
no loud voices to obstruct the view
no crude visions to cloud the sounds
today I can give
swing open the door
the fresh breeze hits my face
now I can diffuse
now I can focus
today I create
June 2004 Archives
today I create.
This weekend I photographed the National Cathedral. Earlier in the week I was taking pictures of Amy's big, beautiful, pregnant, belly. It is interesting that of those two things it seemed to me that God's presence was more evident in Amy's belly.
Bryan, Daniel and I were at the Cathedral to take it all in on a Sunday. It was our "church" for the day. After climbing in and out and through this enormous structure like ants, we stopped in "the Bishop's Garden" to rest. A great debate broke out between my husband and my son. Initiated by Daniel, the overarching question seemed to be, "Is this really a monument to God?"
The gargoyle of Darth Vadar aside, (yes there is an actual gargoyle in the likeness of Darth Vadar)...
Today I had one of our potential artists on "the planet" ask me a question. What type of images are downloaded most? Or something like that. I tried to answer the question gently because I know his intentions were to submit work that would fit appropriately with all the other art that is on avisualplanet.com. Good intentions. I had another artist tell me that he wanted to make sure what he submitted was beautiful and "inspirational". What I got was sappy and predictable.
I really think it is time for artists to quit looking side to side before creating what they were meant to create. Side to side as if paralyzed by fear or doubt that they are going to get slapped down the minute they show an original thought. Side to side comparing themselves with the tragic result of looking like each other, squeezing out any God-infused originality in the process.
We don't need to do this.
I would love to see every artist tackle inside herself the one thing that God has for her to say. That expression that longs to get out and bless the world.
It doesn't have to be a big deal. Sometimes I think we try too hard and get in the way of ourselves. But worse we look around and craft something that has already been crafted because the territory has already been tested and therefore safe.
God expects so much more.
What is inspirational to the human heart is that which often breaks it first. If we are to have any impact as artists in the emerging culture then we need to step away from the candy-coated and step into the real. If we are truly being honest to the depth of our artistic being, I doubt we will find pictures of flowery fields and romantic sunsets. If we can visually bring forth our longings I think we might see something completely different, and far more interesting and ultimately more God honoring.
I hate to say that we are locked into a pattern that visually sedates the church, but there it is. If not locked then at the very least tempted to rest there. It is easy and obvious and takes so little effort. Why have we reduced art into something "pretty" in order to feel that it is "christian". I think God is calling us to something higher. I want this and long for this, and yes am often tempted not to bother. But I think we should. God plants in us the longing, we just need to act on that longing honestly.
How is it possible to explain something that is only "seen" by the spirit?…to explain how one "sees" with the eyes of the soul. - Julian of Norwich1342-1416
In reading Julian's words I am prompted to positive thoughts about God and the gift that has been given to me and others. The fragile sweet gift that, at its very least, gives me joy in the connection to my creator and, at its very greatest, a vision to others and glimpses of God through my art. The gift is to see differently and possibly translate for others what is seen. It seems like arrogance at first but I know that that is a lie and can be, and often is, an excuse for myself not to go to the extra effort of putting on canvas or film or internet, the visions that I see in my head that communicate God's depth.
Does God call out to every artist in this way. How many of us heed the call. To do so requires pushing aside so many things of this world that have crowded out His voice and vision in the first place. The crowding leaves a tiny crack, just a glimmer of who He is through the borage of a hundred other voices calling for us to do or be, love or hate, embrace or reject. All the while God is still there, His light shining through this tiny crack. Miracle that the crack is still exposed at all. It may easily be covered up with so many things. A cloth thrown over it to dim the light. Absentmindedly we continue piling on things that don't matter until the dim light vanishes completely and we are left in the dark. Fumbling around I often find myself in the pitch blackness, reaching for things that feel are familiar, seeking comfort in their shapes. Touching the darkened objects I recognize that they are familiar but am astonished to find that they offer no comfort anymore.
Where am I? I realize I am in the dark and turn to search for the crack. Digging through the pile it is an act of sheer will to uncover the crack and see the light again. Pile upon pile I grab handfuls of things I have collected in an attempt to see the light again. Old clothing I wore so comfortably before, I push aside. I sweep away old objects of faith, books and notions hoping to see the glimmer I know is still there. The air is dusty and filled with the smells of things long gone. As I remove piles of debris I can once again see the light. If I can see the light I may be able to widen the crack, pushing aside all the noise that has crowded out His voice so that I can hear clearly. Maybe then I can see by the spirit in order to show others. I truly want to see with the eyes of my soul.
Where do these promptings leave me? There is a place for me to go to be with God and I often forsake it for other things. There is a place that He would give me if I will look past the debris. Unhindered it is like looking through a perfect glass window instead of a crack in the wall. I can create from there. The gift He gives me is there in all its clarity. It is a gift of vision that I can give others. Such is the calling of the artist.
He is 40!
A jumble of images flood me as I step back from the celebration last night. Friends filled our home as we celebrated Bryan's milestone of 40. He insisted on cooking even though it was his birthday and so everyone got to partake of his culinary gifts. Chicken Scarpiello with onions and sweet sausage was the entree. Friends brought wine and wishes for the future as we enjoyed being crowded together around our dining room table. Betsy graciously brought an awesome chocolate cake (Betsy, I want the recipe so that Bryan can make it again) that we stuck with candles for the traditional singing of happy birthday. Bryan finished with a flourish making Bananas Foster flambe with flames that threatened to hit the ceiling. I later secretly checked the light above the cooktop thinking that it might have been singed but it was fine. Daniel made capuccino and Jane and Eric brought a dessert wine that we all shared as we chatted in the living room until it got late. It was all so good.
here is the bloom from my mutant lettuce.
So I go out my back yard to my little patio with my little herb garden with my GIANT mutant lettuce and am stopped dead in my tracks.
My mutant lettuce has a flower on it.
A perfect periwinkle flower.
This plant that has grown to outragous proportions with branches like tentacles winding in all directions has bloomed.
A few days ago while I was sitting at my little table staring at the LETTUCE I wondered if I should finally cut it down. A Cicada had roosted on the top of it and so I figured that the lettuce could now officially be classified as a tree. It was getting more and more ungainly, sprouting big branches in confusing places like no lettuce I had ever seen before. The unearthly, threatening nature of it made me want to hack it back right then and there in the name of self preservation alone. But curiosity for whatever was to come, won out and so I left it.
And now it bears this perfect bloom, as if to say, "aren't you glad you waited"?
So many things in my life have been this way recently. The energy in nature has been weird and wonderful. Like God has been screaming at me though his creation and I am just now starting to pick up the phone. Two days ago while we were down by our pool Bryan and I were taunted by an orange butterfly. It kept landing on his head (which is a really funny picture, this little orange butterfly perched on my husband's big bald head...where is my camera when I need it). It would land on his head, and then it would land on mine. His, mine, his, mine. It landed on a chair and actually let me touch it. I sat there and marveled at the perfect tiny lines on the outside of its wings. God's art. It was gracious enough to show me the undersides too. They had a completely different design. Like looking at the back of a tapestry they were chaotic and messy but beautiful in their own way. For a long time this butterfly kept me company. Then it would lift off and take a turn around the yard, only to come back and perch in the very same spot as if to say "Did you miss me?". This went on for quite sometime while my husband brushed and cleaned the pool. Me and the butterfly.
Maybe I am learning a new way to worship. Observation. Instead of kicking the old intellect into gear and chewing up some theological question, I am learning to be still. Honestly, as an artist I thought I had that down, I guess not. Or at least I guess there is more. Mutant lettuce and friendly butterflies pull me out of what seems normal just enough to make me look again. Unlike my typical process through life of look, define, classify, move-on, I have been forced to stop and take a second look and be still.
What a gift.
i took this picture at the Smithsonian in 2002. These are the actual shoes that "Dorothy" wore as she skipped down that yellowbrick road. Keep skipping Rachelle!
i need to clean out my fridge
At first I opened the door in search for food. A faint odor emerged. There are things in my fridge that need to come out. Old things. Moldy things. I can smell them but they are way in the back. I don't even want to touch the containers let alone opening them. I know that I have left this task too long. Instead of taking everything out and cleaning the whole inside, I have thrown things away, here and there knowing full well that there is more. Doing a little at a time has sufficed but it is alot like vacuuming around the furniture instead of moving it. The hard thing is that it is such a project. Cleaning the fridge. To really do it properly takes time. I don't have time today. I didn't have time yesterday, or the day before and so it goes. The other thing I know to be true is that you never really know how bad it is until you get into it. The stuff at the back is either forgotten and gross or stuff you never use. Why do we hold onto the old stuff in our fridge? All these items that are taking up space actually keep you from putting new stuff in...
Monday morning, back at my little table (I think it has become my official blogging table) I am reflecting. My brain usually takes a few days to calm down after being with lots of people. Today it is calmed. The loud flood of voices that make up the replay of events in my head have subsided into a nice comfortable drone and I can pick them out and reflect on each one instead of feeling overwhelmed. It is my traditional unpacking of an experience and my familiar mode as an introvert. It includes a couple days of sleep, some silence, and precious time with my family. It is nothing new. I will go through my pictures today and get another wave as I view them. What an awesome time I had at the emerging women leaders gathering.
Bringing back the faces I can connect the thoughts and expressions, feelings and all with each one, here are a few there are so many more, but I continue to process...
Thanks to Jen for being so "doula" in your approach to life, people, and the ewl gathering. For Holly and Kelly, and Heather and Grace, and how beautifully you all worked together with your very different strengths and gifts to make a dream into a reality. It was fun to watch you navigate the logistical challenges together. For Debra showing me how to dread my hair and for a real picture of milk and honey. For Rachelle and our chat about art in her context, I really want to talk more, or even visit. For Heather and Laci for listening to my embarassing meltdown and not thinking less of me. For Denise and Linea and their group leadership. For Rebecca's metaphor of clay. Thank you April, for a great conversation more reconciliation to follow I hope. I am so thankful to have finally met Sally Morganthaler and thrilled to have found a kindred spirit there. Debbie Blue for your histerically funny take on the tower of babel as a phallic symbol. Ok there is so much more and this is sounding stupid and campy but oh, well. I continue to process. Pictures will follow.
size doesn't matter
that is all I could think about when I got home from EWL. I am not trying to be funny but it is a little ironic.
no posturing, just support
no status, just understanding
no arrogance, just patience
size didn't matter.
Bryan, and I, (and sometimes Daniel) have been to a bunch of "conferences" through the course of our ministry as a family, and this is the first one that I didn't hear anyone discussing the size of their congregation. At least not as the opening line. Don't you find that funny? Gone was the familiar posturing that happens in the first 30 seconds of meeting someone. That subtle, but oh-so-present tone of competition was missing. In truth, I was really unaware of how much measuring goes on at these things until I witnessed a gathering where there was no yardstick in sight...