Today I had something happen to me that I just felt I needed to write down.Â Maybe I am writing this down more for me than for anyone (I have no idea if people even read this blog) …
… and I know this has been a blog about visual art, but I may need to have a moment to make an exception and talk about creativity and following God.Â Because something very small and yet very profound happened to me that I do not want to fall outside my consciousness.Â God is teaching me, leading me, and I almost would have missed it if I had been able to have my own way.
I started a drum circle at my church, intending to start an intergenerational drum circle.Â We have met three times, and up until this week, it was a mix of both adults and children.Â About 50/50.Â And then this last week, I had a lot of parents drop off their children, using me as a babysitting service.Â
Initially I was resentful, thinking that people were misusing me.Â I wanted to be a part of an intergenerational music making experience, not a place for people to drop off their little ones.Â And then I looked.Â I was in a room of mostly 5-8 year-old children who really wanted to be right there in the circle.Â They wanted to be a part of this.Â They were quiet, attentive, and wanted to play drums.Â I realized that my core group, the people who most wanted to make the drum circle a meaningful ministry were not the adults my heart craved to play with … they were little ones.Â
I went home initially frustrated.Â Then I felt ashamed that I did not appreciate those children for being there.Â This has touched my heart more deeply this week than anything I have done in the past few years in volunteering at church.Â I was moved by recognizing my own ingratitude and convicted that maybe God’s plan for me was not my plan, but something different and more meaningful than I had hoped to achieve by my plan.Â My job is to show up with drums, an open heart, a loose plan and love.Â I am recognizing, though I was nearly blind to it, that IÂ Â am actuallyÂ a seed planter in fertile soil that will certainly grow … though it may be many years in coming to fruit.Â Or maybe that is another thing I need to recognize – that the fruit may just be a different variety of fruit than the one I thought I was going to harvest.Â I have so much to learn to see.
This morning, while dropping off my own girls for children’s church, I was greeted by the smiles of three of the children whom I now recognize from the drum circle.Â They each greeted me, and one of them ran up to me to tell me that today was his birthday.Â He was 8.Â
I could have missed this if I had had my way.
Happy birthday, little man.
I did not set out to minister to children.Â I intended to allow kids to participate as an afterthought, a way to get the adults to come if they could bring their kids along with them and have it “be ok.”Â Now I am getting a little glimmer of insight that maybe this whole ministry, and my heart, may need to be open to being led in an entirely different direction.
I was playing drums with two friends tonight at a wedding.Â We were making up rhythms and having a great time.Â A little guy, only 2 years old, the son of a friend came up and wanted to play.Â My heart is starting to see things differently now.Â I knealt down so he could play on my djembe with me.Â He too is a drummer.Â I need to be open to being a role model for little ones, not a facilitator only to the adults.
God, help me to sense your guiding.Â Light my path.Â Guide my feet.Â Touch my heart … and my hands.
I have been truly touched by a fellow artist, Nicole France-Coe, whose work is presently in the Leep Art Gallery at the Postema Center on the Pine Rest campus where I work. Her work is about prayer, and has a sense of whimsical reverence to it. Bright colors, and mixes of photo clippings, beads, paint, stiching and fabric. It is like looking into a visual prayer journal. I love it.
It has been a place where I go daily for a sense of visual rest from the pressures of my inpatient psychiatric ward.
And I am resting.
As I have returned to my art studio, I feel a new sense of life returning to my work. It has been a heavy summer, and as the leaves are beginning to burst into vibrant color here in the woodland around my home, I am sensing God breathing life back into me.
I sense God’s graciousness to me. I have not been left in the darkness of my depression which has lingered off and on since January … He has lifted my head.
So I am painting again. I have been focussing on tiny, intimate canvasses recently, which I love doing. But I felt a yearning to paint large again. This past summer I purchased two wonderful books on the material culture of China, and have been pouring through the photos of one in particular: Chinese Dress by Valery Garrett. Whereas most books on the material culture of China focus heavily on the dress customs of the Imperial Court, she has a lengthy section on both the dress of women and working-class people. There are some wonderful reproductions of women’s clothing whose detail and coloring moved me profoundly. They remind me of visual graciousness that pair tastefully with my inner sense of God’s movement in my own heart. So I have begun painting a woman on a tall, narrow canvas. She is wearing a pale blue robe and reaching tenderly upward, her head tilted slighly back, reaching towards a dove which is flying above her head. The dove in my sketch is dropping a blossom from a flowering twig, but I have yet to see how God moves me to create this detail in the final painting. The background is gold, but a tarnished, and in places distressed. Yet what draws me into this painting is the face of the woman which to me captures a content and open quality that I so wish for myself. It excites me to create this piece … and I can’t wait to see how it comes out.
I have not written in a long time. I have been struggling a lot … wondering what to do with my life. I had been attacked in May by a patient who broke through a wooden door to attack me. It threw me into an emotional tailspin that has taken me up until now to pull out of. I have been wrestling with my thoughts and many days had sorrow in my heart.
I have no idea where my life is going, but I am beginning to have faith that there is an answer somewhere. Tomorrow I have a performance evaluation at work, which I am so nervous about. I have been having struggles at work since my attack, and only recently have been able to find interest in painting again.
I just want to be in front of my easel again.