I feel kinda bad that I haven't blogged for a week but there has been little time. Working on a new ad concept for the planet took most of my mental energy and so blogging was sacrificed. As much as I hate the concept of advertising, it is the one way that people find my art and thus keep me in this work that I love so much. Such a circle. Anyway, the new ad reveals my heartfelt conviction that doing a business in the sense of ministry needs to be less of a business and more of a ministry. I struggle with what I see in the "Christian" resource market. Especially when I brush up against some of the business practices and attitudes. I have thought alot about it in terms of the story of Jesus and the money changers. It is a fine line. So this ad gently (I hope) put my conviction out there. So for anyone who chances on this blog and wants to give their two cents. Here it is…
September 2004 Archives
We are now a one car family and so I don't typically drive Daniel to school anymore the way I used to. Today was unique in that I had to drive Daniel to school. Well, actually, I didn't have to, but I did it in order to let Bryan sleep a few extra minutes. He came to bed sometime closer to morning than night due to working downstairs in his studio. Trading off kindness is something that I think has made our marriage so strong. We see a need in the other and rise to the occasion without the need for recognition or praise, or return. My act this morning was simply in kind to him letting me nap through dinner last night.
Anyway, fat on sleep, and feeling fine, I did the normal morning routine sans Bryan and so, took Daniel to school.
A few blocks away from the high school where traffic funnels into two directions and is the only access to the school stands this man. I have seen him many times before and thought about him a lot. Focused on getting Daniel to school while deep in discussion about the topic he is introducing at Life Club(a club he started at his school last year that allows kids to just talk about stuff) we whizz right by the man without a thought. The business of life makes you miss things all the time.
Dropping Daniel off, saying our goodbye and have-a-good-day, I head back towards home via the same route I came. The stream of traffic is long and slow. This can have an effect on one's attitude for good or ill, and today It felt good to go slow and be reflective so I didn't mind the traffic. Along the way I see the man.
He is a tall, african american man in his late thirties. Judging by the expression that is always on his face, he was born with an IQ that falls short of society's acceptable standards. His behavior also reveals that he is different. He stands on the street and waves. He waves at the cars that go by. He stands out there for hours waving. He stands in the same place, which seems to be just outside the house in which he lives. He stands there in the fall and when it snows. He even stands there in the rain. Always waving. The first few times I saw him I thought he was selling firewood. Then after seeing him a hundred times I decided, he just likes to wave.
Today I noticed that the traffic was going slow enough that people had time to see him. About three cars ahead of me I noticed something. I saw the driver wave back at the man. Two cars ahead of me, same thing. One car ahead of mine, the woman waved.
The waving man keeps waving and waving. To him it is a constant thing, and I don't know if it really effects him if he sees others waving back because it doesn't show on his face.
But it felt good to wave.
Like waving was some great act of kindness or at the very least an act of tolerance. I have seen him so many times before that I can gauge my character at that moment by the waving man and my reaction to him. I don't always wave. Sometimes I whizz by in a rush with thoughts about all the "important" things I have to do-and why is he out there anyway-he must be stupid, running through my head. Nice.
And then I am forced to react at my own internal behavior, reflect and adjust (or wallow in stress induced-rebellion of a positive attitude). Some days I think about the man and ponder why he waves. Some days I fly right by like so many others, knowing he is there but not wanting to be bothered.
Today I waved.
There are probably several people in my life who have done some important thing or another for me or on my behalf or whatever and all are lost from my memory now. In contrast I will always remember the waving man. Maybe it is only the repitition, but profound things can be simple too. Was God's divine assignment for this man to wave? Of all the things that our society would hope for a man, accomplishment, success, or at the very least a clean shirt, this man gets to wave. But there is something in his wave that challenges the constant drone of the daily demands that we place on ourselves. Does the uniqueness of that act alone make it some sort of cosmic conduit that connects us to God because we are forced to reflect? Like a life preserver thrown out in a sea of hurry-stress-ambition-and-guilt to allow us to grab hold of a moment that is peaceful, the waving man waves. I think it is interesting that every time I see the waving man I think of Jesus.
And sometimes I wave back.
Tuesday is rivaled only by wednesday as the hardest day of the week on the sleep loss meter (cuz it is sorta in the middle). I am still struggling with the 6am wake-up hour and long for daylight savings so that at least then my non-adjusting body will feel like it's later. There is a bonus to this early hour though. Since Bryan doesn't really have to be at work til 9 he has chosen to take the kid to school and come back. Upon his return he promises cappuccinno and danish. I sit here, wearing my pjs, in anticipation.
Love that man.
It's monday and there is this snap in the air. The slight chill that hints of fall and then winter. I think this year I can handle it. Maybe even look forward to it (check back in a month or two and see if I am constantly whining about the cold weather).
Today I look toward a very busy work week, but am comforted by the apparent structure of it. It is probably only something that the "J" personality can relate to, but oh well. The guys are off to work and school and here I sit setting up my morning and week schedule. This is where the benefit of being self employed meets its challenge. The benefit is calling the shots myself, the challenge is the temptation to go back to bed.
So I open my shiny green notebook that holds the order to my days. Although I do most things in the cyber/digital realm, the organization of my time is still maintained in a quaint spiral notebook. My quirk, but when you find something that works for you, why fight it. My notebook is a culmination of ideas that I have come accross over the years to maximize time while still promoting inspiration. Instead of buying one of those "organizers" I resorted to designing my own tailored to my weirdnesses and rhythms. Each day of the week is different with things specific to that day along with more general categories that are left open until pencilled in on monday(pencilled for the ability for change). There are also various quotes and verses printed throughout to give me inspiration and reminders of what I do, and why I do it. Yes, I need reminding to stay focused. My notebook also contains a special page for fridays that reflect on the previous week and pages for specific project plans in the future.
So now you probably think I am nuts.
Could be, but it works for me. And I am sure it will continue to evolve for the rest of my life. In fact, I think there was some stuff in the da Vinci book that I need to add. Ok, where is that book. Here.
A recognition of and appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things and phenomena."
This is a concept that helps me not to over compartmentalize. Even though my shiny green notebook helps to keep me on track, da Vinci reminds me that there is a natural flow of things and if one swims aggressively against the current then the only thing that is guaranteed is the exhaustion of self. So my book is a guide not a master. This concept also reminds me that my art is connected to my being a mother, as my business is connected to my being a wife, etc. If I do too much separation then there is a natural tendency to make one thing a "priority" which can sometimes be unhealthy especially if it is sacrificing relationship for work. Adam's curse. It also reminds me that I can throw in a load of wash while stratagizing next year's advertizing.
Ok, so I guess I can add this into my book somewhere, but for now I will begin checking off my monday items as I go. This week looks like it is going to be a highly extraverted week for me which means that I may need to take my artist's date* day (friday) and sleep. I will leave that open for now and see how I feel.
It is time to get to work.
* artist's date: time spent doing something fun to foster and feed the creative spirit. A necessary activity for filling the well. The body needs food to function. The creative spirit needs to be fed as well.
I think I was emotionally rescued by a friend yesterday who let me go on and on about things that seem trivial now, but I know in the moment they felt huge. Most of it involved being sleep deprived, pms-ing, and therefore rendering me unable to be creative and productive. The latter part I regularly beat myself up about regardless of the circumstances.
She invited me to lunch a week ago for yesterday. Yesterday I didn't want to go. It happens every time. The dread before the blessing. It doesn't matter who it is. It is an introverted thing.
Laying in bed the other night with Bryan, both of us looking at the ceiling, me with my head in the niche of his neck, I told him that I don't know if I know how to have friends. It sounds silly, but I guess it goes back to doing things in extremes. I told Bryan that I think I have a hard time being with people because I can't just chat. I have no control when it comes to communicating where I am at in a given moment and so I tend to bear my soul. Regardless. Often that leaves me feeling alarmed afterwards that the person that I am with will have thought that I am weird, or selfish or whatever. It is a quality that often leaves me feeling vulnerable.
And sure enough yesterday, picking me up for lunch,my friend at the door asked that dreaded, all too invasive question,
"How are you"?
I replied with the appropriate response of "I am fine", and after a two second pause I recanted with, "Well, actually…(damn, don't do it, don't do it) I am not fine." (Argh.)
Of course having openened the door there was no turning back.
What followed was very good for me. She listened, her puff of purple hair bobbing as she gave encouragement citing similar feelings, similar experiences, similar perspectives and good contrasting ones too. I was blessed by her humor, and her willingness to be open and vulnerable as well. She listened as I beat myself up and gently pointed out the futility of THAT. She made me laugh.
I was also reminded that when I am with someone, I see deep into them and listen well. And so I get to see the beauty that resides within the broadness of a person's personality and wit. I get to see how God intentionally makes us different so that we can see the various facets of divine character through each other. I get to see that comparisons can be good if viewed from the right perspective, not a motivation for sameness, but an appreciation for God's variety. I get a gift. Yesterday's gift came with purple hair.
Thank you betsy.
Umm...can I borrow your hair dye? ; )
Today I have it bad. Suddenly I just want to be like everyone else(whatever that means I haven't a clue). It must be the weather but more likely it is reading other peoples' blogs. Although most of the time it encourages me. Today, no. It is depressing. I guess it is the backfire of a virtual community. You think you have control, but what you really have is interpretation. Or what scares me more, misinterpretation. I hate it when it is done to me, and I really hate it when I do it to someone else. It is why I sometimes can't talk at all.
I love the fact that Jesus didn't interpret people. Jesus saw their core. I am sure in our humanness we totally mangle those blessed handed down words we call the bible and even get that wrong, but something I am totally convinced of in my "interpretations" is that when Jesus met the blind man, and the woman at the well, and the lame, leper, rich ruler, etc, etc. what was seen was individuals who were all different. And the very instant that Jesus saw them there was complete understanding and love. And what is more, there was a different answer for each of them. It has always struck me that Jesus did not dole out the same formula for any of them. So hypothetically, if the blind man went away and told two friends his formula for peace and the leper went away and told his two friends, and the woman at the well(ok she told a whole town)… if each one went away with a formula, fast forward to today. Can anyone say denomination?
Ok I admit it is simplistic. But wasn't Jesus really the master of tolerance? The master of the all inclusive? I mourn the fact that we, in pursuit of the perfect "faith community" create comfortable formulas that when fully developed actually exclude others. Jesus was truly remarkable because he included everyone. Except the ultimate excluders, the religious leaders. Are we there again? Can you say TNIV?
I know we need principles to live by and that isn't what I am talking about. What I can't get past is the instant judgment that occurs in a lot of faith circles. The sizing up. It doesn't really matter what the faith community looks like either. Tattooed and pierced, big hair and ties, jeans and flip-flops, etc. Maybe that is why I am afraid to go back now. Is it possible to live outside the categories? Or do I just want to find a category that is comforting and be done with it, never to be challenged by new thoughts caused by the differences I see? I love to explore those differences in others, but it often takes some work to just understand another person's perspective. So did we all just get lazy?
I once gave a talk on the woman at the well. In my personal pursuit of who she was I was shown how seemingly wrong the teaching I had received had been. The teaching seems to reside inside those categories. Maybe it was even dictated by the category, and so missing some of the point. I was blown away by what I "interpreted" and how different it was. And, as a woman, how hopeful. Someday I will post my perspective on her, but it is too long for now.
So If the blind man were to "judge", or "(mis)interpret" the woman at the well, what would that look like?
Another image from my journey series. This incorporates an image of my son Daniel in a prayer position.
"The greatest geniuses sometimes accomplish more when they work less".
...Leonardo da Vinci
I am reading "How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci". I started this book last January on a road trip, but when the trip ended so did my reading of this book. I picked it up again last night and found some valuable insights. da Vinci has always been a favorite artist of mine. I remember doing a report on him in the 6th grade complete with a meticulously sketched copy of his self portrait as the cover. Although at the time I am not sure what captivated me now I think it was his approach to life. Maybe it is just this book that I am reading now that seems to paint a larger than life romantic picture of da Vinci, but why should I care? I am inspired by the portrayal and so I'll take it.
He lived art. And he lived in extremes. He studied everything and he listened to himself. And he trusted what he heard. Sometimes I have a hard time doing that. Then there is the question of listening to your "inner self", or God, discernment, spirit, etc... Who am I listening to? Sometimes there are just too many voices, and it is hard to tell what's what until they just shut up. Really it is just culture driven noise brought on by paying too much attention to the news, but it clouds my clarity.
Did Leonardo have that problem?
Anyway, I like the fact that he didn't seem to second guess himself. He just explored everything. I wonder if the majority of western culture has fallen into a pattern of second guessing that comes close to crippling us. Although even the magazine covers at the grocery check-out line seem to all scream "be impulsive," or "indulge yourself", I wonder if in contrast, we get locked in positions of self-doubt only to do nothing at all.
I tend to do things in extremes and then feel guilty afterward. I will work like mad on a creative spurt and then be totally down for a day and feel awful for it. That is why I liked the quote. It seemed that Leonardo understood the balance of that and validated it. I have enough of the western-work-ethic, thing ingrained in me that I struggle with feeling a peace about my extreme work habits. I can know it intellectually, but I tend to not be very forgiving of myself. At the end of a day I judge it by how much was accomplished. If I spend a whole day "down" I have a hard time recognizing it as a positive, healthy, filling of the well, for the next "productive day". Ugh!
So I will try to listen to Leonardo. Who am I to question? Maybe what I think is extreme is actually balance in disguise.
It is the fourth day in this family's new schedule. Day four of getting up at six instead of eight. Two hours less sleep than normal because we have yet to compensate by going to bed two hours earlier. Do the math. Eight hours less sleep than I am used to in four days. No wonder I am so tired. The main culprit is the tv in our bedroom. Nightly routine involves the Daily Show, and sometimes Countdown. Granted that this ritual is more my husband's than mine, I have a hard time just turning over to sleep. I find myself just turning back again to catch the punch lines. I need more sleep than Bryan, but even he had a few more creases under his eyes this morning. Do we take drastic measures and remove the tv? This is not the first year for this so I am assuming we adjusted, but right now in my cappuccino induced wakefullness I can't remember how. I thought this feeling was only reserved for those who had newborns. Sigh. count your blessings... count your blessings... snore.....
OK. I am stunned. I just found out that "A Generous Orthodoxy" is out thanks to Jen Lemen's blog, and a couple clicks later and I am staring at a very familiar image. The cover of the book has the handsome face of it's author. That is familiar. But two seconds later I realize that there is another reason the image is familiar. I shot it.
What a generous gift. Brian didn't tell me that they would be using it. I was totally honored to have taken this picture some time ago, and told him to use it for whatever he liked. In typical McLaren fashion, generous with compliments, he said how much he loved the picture. I was pleased when it landed on anewkindofchristian.com, and was glad I could help. But I am thrilled, THRILLED, that it is the cover of his new book. Part of the thrill came in not knowing, and now I am just so honored. Honored and humbled to play a visual part. Thanks Brian!! What a fantastic surprise!