“The vulnerability required to be open and creative is a vulnerability that puts our creativity at risk.” Julia Cameron, The Right to Write
The past couple of weeks, I’ve craved sleep. But somehow, it has eluded me. And then, so much news from the world presses in too, a heaviness that pushes my eyelids further down by the weight of it. If not for faith and a hope that does not dissappoint, I could recluse my life away like the fiddle-back spiders we sometimes find on our farm.
Today, I simply rest. My eyes, open and slip into the small space of my four walls. We aren’t always called to the grand things. Fact is, we rarely are.
A glance out my bedroom window reveals how our farm has recovered from a flash drought. Even as the muted yellows and burnt orange’s escape to the earthen floor, the Bermuda grass has greened to the point, it glows. It’s as if the abundant Fall rains delivered emerald dyes.
Our ducks happily flock from one end to the other as if without a care. But I’ve seen the pointy-eared bobcat near their sleeping spot. I’ve witnessed the eager coyote narrowly miss “dinner” as they quacked and took the short flight of escape to the middle of our deep pond.
I live among predators. I am pulled and paralyzed by the sheer magnitude of the world, even in my own remote one. If not careful, I can be immobilized. Instead, I choose to look around me with thankfulness.
“We sink heavy into our own smallness and its in that place where we lose our life. And also find it.” Emily Freeman, A Million Little Ways.
As I’ve grown older, I’m a pendulum of motion and suspension, of vitality and weariness, of creativity and staleness. In all cases, I reluctantly accept both parts. Because I must give permission to myself to rest, to fill up, to pour out, and to somehow balance my life.
Just as the rains came with such momentum and force to reverse our dry spell, it was also removed and taken away by pipes, carried off and deposited in its rightful place of creeks, ponds, and low-lying areas. The activity accumulated in puddles, only to disappear shortly afterwards. I notice the lulls in life and try to remember if I noticed them in my twenty’s.
Since embracing the creative life, I’m more in-tune with my thought-life, of knowing myself better. I would even say, it can rack my overly active imagination too. All of life is fodder for art. It’s caused me to be more aware than I’ve ever been. I’m not exactly sure how I feel about that. But I do know it’s part of the process.
“The most important benefit of my years of disciplined, solitary work was that I began to recognize the emotional patterns of creativity–or rather, I began to recognize my patterns.” Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
We have the four seasons. They teach us that life is a cycle. There are the simple ordinaries, the times we’re reminded of restful reflections in all the slumbering anticipations of change.
But then there are days where we must pursue, with intention, the creative life that God’s placed within us. We must begin, even when we don’t feel like it. We must pick up and move one proverbial foot in front of the other. We must find the energy, even the courage, to continue onward, going forward without large doses of bravado.
We’ve been given a gift that notices God’s subtle work. We excavate our emotions and spiritual stirrings, and pen them to the page, or brush them on a canvas, or paste them in a scrap-book, or whatever outlet we choose. We do it as an anthem. And in so doing, our vulnerability and open-handed-ness leads us to guard both carefully.
The world in all its news and evil can rip our eyes off the One purpose for why we began, of why we’re here. On days like today, we lose our way.
But we can remember again.
“You are art and you make art, but you are not your art. You are God’s art.” Emily Freeman, A Million Little Ways
Individually, it’s a seemingly small gift, our one lone craft by itself. We combat the dregs of quitting. We embrace, again and again, our calling. We recognize the seasons of our own creative energy, how it waxes and wanes, how it ebbs and flows, how it pours out and how it returns. How the globe twirls ’round, with or without us, but how we’re better for noticing it.
Even as it rains once more, even as the icy fingers of winter slip in, even as our minds are tired by carrying these bones God gave us, we remember our why. We are not deterred by hatred. In fact, our art can be a weapon for good.
Emily Freeman says it best in, A Million Little Ways, “Aren’t we all scared fisherman in a boat, the sea raging all around us, the darkness closing in?” and adds, “Stepping out of the boat and walking toward Jesus, I realize how looking deep into the eyes of God is art all by itself.”
And to make sense of the sense-less, we keep one eye on the world, and the other, firmly fixed on Jesus. We ready our art. We steady our hand. We point and aim. And with our own creative force, we testify.
Especially on days like today.