hey friends--are you still there?
that's probably the question you're asking about me. i know, this blog has sat here, like an abandoned farm field, for many, many months.
life hasn't been easy, as you can see from the last post i DID make. the battle has ground on, through the summer and into the fall. and then, as things have begun to wind down in that department--meaning, things are better--i've just been tired, and numb. very, very little creative or imaginative juice. no energy to write, or paint, or even think about those things. maybe my improvement and healing resources have gone into the other parts of my life--family, friends, earning income, teaching a creative writing class to kids, sunday school to adults. i'm grateful and glad to have those areas doing well.
over the last couple of weeks i've found myself very busy. i've been so busy as to start to get anxious about getting it all done--there was the fun stress of Thanksgiving, and I accepted directorship of the children's ministry Christmas program (and the rest of the family is IN it, so it's quite the event at our house!), on top of everything else. oh--and i've been asked to take over leadership/supervision of the sunday school class i've been teaching. i'd be responsible for curriculum, the teaching team, etc. and all of it's making me stressed, and anxious, and a little panicky, to be honest.
so i've been pondering what it is i want to be doing, what it is God wants me to be doing, and what i shouldn't do. this morning i made sure to spend some serious time in prayer and devotion--something i all too often blow off for the tyranny of an urgent task. as part of that, i read and pondered jan richardson's post in her blog The Advent Door, Advent 1: In Which We Stay Awake.
it spoke to me in a way i haven't heard much of in a while. maybe in tiny whispers, a little chime here and there, but nothing that i really paid attention to, or understood. but this morning i heard clearly. these paragraphs leaped out at me:
I realized that I had arrived at one of those threshold times that happens in the creative process, when something new is trying to work itself out but is taking its sweet time to make itself known. Like any birth, it tends to be messy. It is a kind of mini-apocalypse in which our familiar landmarks disappear, our sources of illumination go dim, our familiar ways of working no longer work.
It can be daunting to stay soul-awake when these mini-apocalypses come along, whether in the creative process or in life itself, which is its own creative art. It can grow wearying to persist in showing up to what is messy, to what is frustrating, to what lies in shadow, to what seems like it isn’t going anywhere. Yet as Mark’s Gospel reminds us here at the threshold of Advent, such times call us to trust that even in the dark, God is at work, is traveling toward us, has somehow already arrived.
somehow, except for isolated, barely-realized moments, my soul has been at least half-asleep. in many ways i've been sleep-walking through my spiritual life, in a sort of dull stupor. And this is reflected my dulled, even comatose, creative life. i need to wake up, to be present, for my spirit to rise up from this stupor and come into the living Presence of God, to be revitalized and re-vitalized. There is strong link, for me, between my faith and my creativity. I've recognized that my spiritual life is expressed through my creative life, and if i have little or no creative expression, it is a result of, a symptom of, my spiritual life's dryness. and the flip side of this is that i experience my relationship with God most strongly through artistic expression, whether it's the act of my own creation, or my experience of someone else's. i need art and creativity as a vehicle to access deep communion with God. and i'm starving for that, yearning for an on-going without-ceasing flow.
i've realized that somehow, living without this, is a big part of what triggers my anxiety. this lack of connection with God and creative expression of my relationship with Him makes me anxious and sad, feeling out of control, and so not myself. so once again, i find myself needing to make space for all this, to devote time and energy and, yes, a physical place to this. i need to prepare that space, and protect the time, and then commit to actually making this a priority in my life, instead of letting everything else overtake it. i need the mystic, evocative opportunity for an encounter with my living, loving Creator, in which i'm awed by His majesty, overwhelmed by love and worship of Him, and captivated by His love for me. I need the creative, expressive exchange that feeds my soul and deepens my faith.
what about you? are you awake? there are so many places in Scripture where Jesus calls us to be awake, alert, to be watchful and waiting. in this time of Advent, where we focus on His coming, we are especially called to being awake to His coming, to His breaking into our lives. He brings grace and peace, healing and transformation, truth and beauty.
"And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.” Mark 13:37