And there was beauty, as well; along with a change of scenery, a new perspective and thoughts of shadows and light.
My creative team meets each Tuesday. We plan services - song ideas, skits, videos, transitions. It's fun and challenging and the best job in the world, but for a creative person, it can be exhausting. The every seven days cycle is inescapable. I have no fight in me for those who would say that the liturgy is pointless, that a set plan for worship lacks creativity or meaning. I respect and admire and have worshiped sincerely in a liturgical service. But our calling in this season is to do things a bit differently - not better, just different - and so we stretch ourselves creatively to find ways to connect Truth and Beauty and Grace and Jesus to a room full of people who are often longing for some vibrant, meaningful encounter that they have missed in other contexts.
Context is everything. And sometimes, we forget. We get in a rut. We see things the way we've always seen them. We forget to be surprised.
We forget what it's like to not know something.
So today, I took my team on a surprise journey. We piled into the Big Red Suburban (I felt like their mother, rather than their leader...) and we found ourselves at Sunshine, Art and Lessons, where my friend Shelly Crawford was waiting for us. She gave us a brief overview of how to use the tools she provided. She gave us paper.
We sat around the table and it felt like kindergarten again. Except, not really; because instead of a five-year-old's joy and anticipation of "getting to color", there was a sad undercurrent of insecurity.
"I can't draw."
There we were, a table full of highly creative and talented people, suddenly stilled by fear that we couldn't do art.
(At least I felt that way.)
(And I know I wasn't alone.)
But Shelly was gentle and kind, and she told us how to look at an apple but not really look at an apple, to simply look at an object. To squint and look for the dark and the light. And then to circle the darkness, to wrap the charcoal around the shadows.
"Make it dark first. Then pull the light out."
It was all about the eraser. And the metaphors; oh, the richness of this creative process and the raw parts of simply being human and alive.
"Don't worry about making a mark that you think is wrong. There is no wrong. It simply becomes part of what you are creating. Just blend it in and keep going."
This is deeply resonant for me this week. And I noticed this; that I have to be reminded, sometimes in blindingly painful ways, of the need to surrender to the process.
Whether drawing an apple with charcoal or sketching a life.
|A man and his apple.|
|Ben colored outside the lines and broke the rules. It was beautiful.|
|Ben and Elijah.|
|The finished products.|
|My team. I love these people.|