My Artist’s Prayer

A few days ago I mentioned one of my early influences towards contemplation. Not only did she give me the gift of morning pages, Julia Cameron also challenged me to write a prayer. A dreaming aloud for the future life I hoped to live as an artist. Having recently found it, I began to pray it once again. At times, it feels far beyond me, but I pray it anyway. Today, I share it with you. Maybe it will lead you to create one of your own.

Creator God,

Thank you for making me creative.

Give me COURAGE to embrace Your gift. Give me COURAGE to live out your calling on my life to create.

May I walk in the wake of Your creative Spirit.

May I follow the example You set each day.

I am amazed by the stories You tell.

May I do my part to join You as a storyteller. May our stories change the lives of those who read them, and thereby change the world.

Remember me in my weakness and remind me of Your delight in me.

For I am Your creation.

Cast out all fear so that I may embrace You and thereby embrace life.

Guide my pen and my song.

For Your glory and my good in order to transform the world.

Amen.

Unexpected Gift

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A short few months ago I met a girl. From the moment she entered my life I experienced an awakening. Now if you’re expecting a tale of romance, I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed.  But it is the beginning of a happy story and one I am thankful for.

That said, let me begin with a bit of someone else’s story.

 

I recently watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty again. He and I share more in common than I would like to admit. I zone out less, but we both have vivid imaginations and neither of us are living the life we imagine. At one point in the film, he turns down a free ride that will further the quest. Not that I blame him, riding a helicopter into a storm with a drunk pilot is not generally a recipe for wisdom. It is then that an imagined Cheryl Melhoff, his love interest, takes the stage singing David Bowie’s Space Oddity. A song she herself said is about bravery and going into the unknown. It moves him to action and moments later he leaps into a rising helicopter, a look of shock on his face at what he’s just done.

That’s a bit how I feel.

There are things I deeply admire about this woman. Some of them are hopes I have for my own life that I see her living as a world traveler and an artist. Others are the simple joy of easy conversation and good company. Not to mention she’s also a fighter. She’s the kind of woman  you’d want at your side for a grand adventure.

Her life became a catalyst for me, accelerating the changes already in progress in my life and, in some places, inspiring new ones. At first, I questioned the motivation. After all, shouldn’t these things be motivated by God. In the midst of that line of questioning, I chose to accept a word of advice from Darren Hardy. Whatever motivates you, use it. In so doing, I came to recognize that her presence in my life was a gift from God. A gift that, among other things, has drawn me closer to Him. She happens to be what I needed at the moment I needed it.

So where does that leave me now? I suppose it leaves me still staring down the corridor of the unknown. A future I prefer to call a mystery. It’s undiscovered territory. There is no telling where it will lead, who it will lead to or what it holds for my future. And thanks to her presence, God’s gift of this friend I deeply value, I am further on down the line than I was before. And I’m thankful, because the simple fact that someone like her exists has given me hope for the future.

I’ll close with a quote from The Four Loves. It touched me the moment I read it, and it captures how I feel.

“Appreciative love gazes and holds its breath and is silent, rejoices that such a wonder should exist even if not for him, will not be wholly dejected by losing her, would rather have it so than never to have seen her at all.”  – C.S. Lewis

 

Discovery

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I pulled into the parking garage, picked a spot and settled back to listen to one more song. I reached for the keys, took a glance at the clock and laughed.

I had an hour to kill.

I snatched up my new book and left the garage. The day was warm. Not the usual choking heat of late July, but a milder heat. Almost comfortable. I glanced around for a place to camp and quickly found it. A tree and two benches sat amidst a riot of color and sculptures at Overton Square.

I managed at least ten minutes in the shade before my mind began to wander and I gave up all hope of making any headway in my book. So I lay down, a closed book for a pillow.

And a new world opened up before me.

For a few minutes I simply enjoyed the colors. The mural was not new to me, but I had never taken the time to do more than casually take it in. Today, I drank it in, and when I’d had my fill. I checked my eyelids for holes.

My attempted nap didn’t last long. Closing my eyes only freed my mind to wander wildly about in frantic thoughts and unanswerable questions. My eyes returned to the mural, and with it, to the painted reliefs in the brick wall next to it. On then to the bare whiff of a cloud standing bright white against the sky. I tried in vain to make some image of the sparse cloud, but if any dragons or faeries resided there, they had no intention of revealing themselves to me.

I tried to rest again, only to be interrupted soon after by a sudden brightness. The orange glow behind lidded eyes turned a bright yellow and I scowled at the glare penetrating the leaves of my not so adept guardian. I examined his leaves and the large number of gaps through which the light danced.

After a time, my eyes returned to the mural with its bright colors, only to discover him staring out from the window in unremarked black and white, the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. He looked out on the rest of us wine in hand, untouchable and imperturbable. I wondered at what he might be about and may have found my answer in the shocked expressions of the Seussian children staring out their nearby window in shock. I checked my own surroundings, but whatever set them on edge had little to do with me.

Checking my watch I found I still had ten minutes left until my appointed meeting, so I tried to drift off once again. It didn’t last. I promptly gave up and rose. I looked one last time upon my mural, for now I surely felt a bit of ownership in it, and discovered that fluorescent flowers had sprouted beneath Hitchcock’s window.

In the end, my unexpected hour held a lesson for me. I had taken the mural for granted. It wasn’t until I took time to return to it again and again, forced or otherwise, that I truly began to see it. And with every return it held something new.

I wonder what I’ll find next time.

To Chronicle the Journey

Four years ago I left my last words on this blog. So much has happened I don’t remember what prompted me to stop. Only that I did. But the path as it is so often want to do has led me back to one of my great loves – the written word.

So here I am. Fingers to keyboard and eyes fixed on the barren expanse of an open page.

I write.

One word follows another in what is at one moment a trickle and at another a cascade. These words mark my journey. They speak of who and where I am. They speak of where I have been and where I am going. They mark the meter of my passing. They share my sorrows. They share my joys. They tell of battles won and lost. They reveal my goals and aspirations. They speak of dreams. They are the persistent and deliberate beating of my heart.

For in these words…

in all I share…

in these stories is the fullness of all that I have been, all that I am and all that I hope to become.

And so I write.

I write to remember. My words bear the lessons of my years, and maybe there is a wisdom to be found in mucking about in old memories.

And I write to share. It is at times a selfish need for attention and validation. But most often, it is a gift. A gift I share with you. The honest ramblings of a soul stumbling after God in the darkness of a broken world. I can only pray that in them, you also find the shadow of His glorious light.

So welcome and well met. You too give me a gift in return. You encourage me. You inspire me. You make me better. You give me a reason to continue. After all, walking alongside others is always better than walking alone.