Easter is a celebration of new life springing up, longer days, and the morning songs of birds for some.
For the religious, it’s a time to remember what we are often too pious to notice: we are sinners. One moment of hindsight is all it takes… my sin carries a weight heavier than the darkest, coldest winter.
If I don’t take time to notice the weight of my sin, I will miss what is ten times heavier: the weight of love.
The truth is that you are never so vulnerable as when you love. And watching a perfect God initiate a pursuit of love when I could do nothing to deserve it, well… that is the new life springing up that I celebrate at Easter.
Saying the words “I love you” is easy. But sharing in the suffering of love? That gets my attention every time. We often quote the proverbs, “he who walks with the wise, becomes wise” and that is true. But Jesus “walked with the weak, and became sin.”
Love is like that. Anyone can be wise, but only the brave will bridge the gap of love to freedom.
Have you ever villainized boxes? You know…the evil “don’t-put-me-in-a-box!” boxes? I recently wondered how something as harmless as a box got such a bad reputation.
A box is actually a NEUTRAL object, depending on what you put inside. If I were are in a box, for instance, the box would continue to be a lifeless object; however, I would be in it. It can neither limit me, label me, nor remove my free will.
Weird fact: Cats love boxes. [Clearly they didn’t get the memo about how limiting they are.] When I watch cats happily jumping inside boxes I notice they love the security of hiding. Cats also jump out of boxes with ease. No harm is done. Nobody thought less of them then before or after or during their stay in the box.
So what’s the deal about humans being put in boxes? Clearly, we don’t belong there, but how have we developed a harmful cliche out of this? I think it comes with the pain of being misunderstood and missing opportunities that nobody asked about.
Perhaps it began when we wanted to be acknowledged as unique from each other. I certainly need others to ask me questions instead of assume they know. Perhaps it only made sense to buy into a metaphor that explains the pain caused by a lack of curiosity. The thing is, and I gently remind you, boxes are really easy to get out of. They can’t harm you because they are not alive.
This video made by Creative Launch shows the journey of exploring the limits of labels and boxes. The artist both goes into a box and comes out of it (no artists were harmed in the making of this video). I can assure you if the dancer were to crawl back into a box for a few minutes, her identity wouldn’t change. Neither would yours.
Like cats, there are times we need emotional containment, collections of like-minded groups, and freedom to discover. A box can hold, sort, organize…and it’s easy to wreck when you’re done with it.
It’s just a box. It can’t hurt you unless you stay forever...
Being IN a community is different than being PART of one. Attending church in my pyjamas on Sunday morning is a COVID gift, but it doesn’t fuel my need to be part of a community. I only just recognized that I struggled with a sense of belonging before COVID, but now I don’t feel guilty about it.
I hold this in tension with passion for a thriving church community–an ideal I have dreamed about my whole life. So it’s embarrassing to admit I feel disconnected, but it made me wonder what I was missing. I think I’m starting to understand…
Attending church on Sunday (before COVID) was like driving in city traffic. Same with watching church.
I’m in my car; you’re in yours. We are driving in separate lanes, doing some curb-side shopping, stopping at the red lights, then heading in different directions. I am watching you sing through the window of my car, but I can’t hear you so I start my custom playlist. But we’re both singing now. Then someone interrupts my journey with a sign on the street corner that says to “Honk with how great it is to be together,” but I don’t want to honk.
Although we are attempting to interact while never getting out of our cars, I wonder if we are further apart than before COVID or if the pandemic just revealing the depth we had before?
I guess it depends on what you were doing before COVID.
If a church isn’t a building, a production, or a monologue, why would we return to that when we are done? Is there an opportunity to establish stronger community connections without having to finance TV equipment and production jobs?
Maybe I drive differently than everyone else, but aside from the occasional speeding, I don’t think so. The truth is you can’t go faster than the car in front of you. In order to feel a sense of belonging, I need to be known, wanted, and have a place to participate. I’m not interested in pretending that watching someone monologue on TV stirs me with passion for God or community.
What makes me feel like I belong to a community is when I am invited to contribute. And I’m not talking about clapping my hands, honking my car, or holding up a street sign. I need a few people who care about me enough to get hungry, serve God, and call it church.
This question changes the way I think about what I do. No longer do I “produce” things; they are a natural overflow of who I am.
I am a journal.
The pages of my life are written onto my heart, my skin, my words, emotions, dreams at night…nothing is hidden. The mistakes (spelling or otherwise) are left behind for all to view because I chose a pen over a delete button and allowed the scratches to form scars. Other times they turned into doleful scribbles. Scribbles sometimes turned into poems.
…my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1b
The truth is that sometimes there’s too much distance between me and what I do. When that happens, I just delete it.
The unnecessary space between who I am and what I do carries a lot of maintenance, and I hate maintenance. Why do I need to add striving, rejection, and defensiveness to who I am? Too much waste.
Some things can’t actually be taken away from you if you have incorporated them into who you are. Nobody can steal it from you, fire you from it, or lie to you about it. It just is what it is.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. Psalm 139:16
I never pictured my art studio with my bed in it, but due to a renovation this is where I now sleep. Every night, the moonlight shines through an oval window and lights up a painting that hangs on the wall, highlighting a woman running with a lantern. Each night before I go to sleep I consider when she will find what she is looking for. Each night she continues to run towards the light.
That painting is titled “I Awaken” and I believe she is a portrait of the church. But that was before COVID. I had a lot of ideas before 2020. The painted layer hidden underneath this one holds a story few people know: It was a gateway painted to comfort a dying woman who was transitioning from death into the next life. Around that time our church was in a series on “waking up.” (Although the topic has changed, I don’t think that series ever ended.)
Last night I woke at 3 am to the loud sound of an alarm, and when I reached to turn it off, I realized it wasn’t real. What could I remember dreaming before I woke? Only this phrase:
Once this renovation is finished and my bed is back in my bedroom, I will return to this series. I have a painting I haven’t shown anyone of a this same woman, waiting in the water. I am awake, ready and listening, and excited to share it with you!
My first book is at the stage where I recently sent it out to readers to “test” out the like-ability (among other things) of my content!
This has been my favorite stage by far. I think it just didn’t feel real before that. Any theories about why that is?
I have edited other people’s articles and books since I was fresh out of high school, so perhaps something about this process I always hoped would be reversed one day: the brutal truth has arrived. And I love it.
Those who don’t like the manuscript, I’ve noticed, don’t read it far enough to discover that they do love it. They give up early. Which is two things. A tribute to my weird style. And the realization I need to re-write the beginning.
The “canvas” is no longer blank…and I absolutely love this process. I mean, check in with me a year from now if it’s still not published butttttt……
To celebrate my latest project, I am inviting YOU into a fun collaborative process!
SHARE ME YOUR DREAMS!!!! Send me your craziest or most inspiring dream, and if it moves me, I will use it as a whimsical launch for a painting and give you collaboration credits!
I’m starting a “Dreams” collection to of bizarre imbalances, odd objects, and poetic pairings, each invites the viewer to explore beyond the realms of the possible.
I love collaboration. Even dreams themselves are sometimes collaborative bits of your day: content drawn from a big conversation, an onlooker, a piece of grief you felt but quickly tucked away, a sore spot, the quirky alien who swam with dolphins before zapping a stray cat and leaving earth. That kind of stuff. I promise I won’t judge you.
So here’s your invitation to share them with me.
So send them my way! Inspire art while you are asleep…because what else were you going to do with them?
I want to be able to change my mind without feeling like I have to defend myself.
Although changing my mind can feel whimsical, strategic and revitalizing, it can also be a “time-out chair” of forced discipline where I sit to consider what I have done wrong now.
But I’m an adult. I don’t have to ASK for permission to change, explain why or hover too long over a critical comment no matter how disorienting it can be for others.
“How do you like me now?!” I might yell from inside a tree, dangling from a branch with a thousand new curiosities in my heart. And I’m still alive. Very much alive, in fact.
Your eyebrows are furrowed. But if you’ve been creating with the same style “that everyone loves” for the past 20 years, I invite you to join me in not following the predictable pattern for applause. Try making something you know everyone will hate. It’s kind of freeing.
If I held tightly to the “same old” routine, I would still be drawing realistic portraits of people’s dead pets.
Just. No. Thank you.
Those who attribute the work I did in high school to my “best work” can stay there. I honestly don’t mind. But if someone wants to know who I am (not just what I made once-upon-a-time), I’m not there anymore.
Try to keep up. Or not. Whatever.
Just one shade deeper: Ever notice that people do this with God?
They stop at His feet or hands and never seek His face.
Unlike me, He never changes, but there is so much depth and width inside Him, I can dig deep on one detail for my entire life, or I can chase the many.
It is the glory of God to conceal a matter and the glory of kings to search it out.
Times of uncertainty & stress highlight the limited resources inside of us.
And what’s in side of us will come out! ….so have you noticed anything lately?
When I notice the “art” of how the circumstances reveal my character, I can leverage the difficult season to grow a rich supply of Life inside. Critical thoughts don’t translate into kind words just because there’s no stress.
How do you eat more of that? Well, I’ve learned to turn on the Light so I can see what I’m working with. (The world offers options for numbing out in the dark.)
Do I have the kind of Love that keeps no record of wrongs?
Did I bring Peace into the Costco lineup?
Does Goodness suffer when my family’s shelves are bare?
Does my strength still come from joy or something else?
Fruit that’s tested in inclement weather thrives, but one worm can desecrate a whole tree.
Don’t get bit by fear. Get tested. (Not for COVID.) Get tested for character to make it through the trial with your heart and mind intact.
If the light turns up some fear or lack, confess it to God (sort of like washing your hands, but you can do it for longer than 20 seconds if you like). Admit you can’t do it without His help. Ask Him to grow something new. Wait for it. (Repeat.)
“The trial exposed their true colors: They were incredibly happy, though desperately poor. The pressure triggered something totally unexpected: an outpouring of pure and generous gifts… This was totally spontaneous, entirely their own idea, and caught us completely off guard. What explains it was that they had first given themselves unreservedly to God and to us. The other giving simply flowed out of the purposes of God working in their lives.” 2 Cor 8:2-6 (The Message)