Archive for the Spirituality Category

Liberating Pieces of Me

Posted in Handmaking, Spirituality with tags , , , on 01 May 2012 by handpeaced

Sometime last summer a couple dear friends came for a visit.  We were experiencing sweltering heat outside.  To tell you the truth, it didn’t feel much better indoors.  So, we soothed ourselves by sitting in front of the fan and clinging onto our glasses of ice water, which were sweating nearly as much as we were.  Somewhat alleviated, we began to share about our lives.  We talked about where we had come from and what our hopes were for the future.

During my time to share, my brow furrowed as I became lost and a little confused by my own thought process.  Then I interrupted myself with the bold declaration, “I’m an artist!”

What I meant by that was that I am not an academic.  I was frustrated that had spent the past two and a half years in graduate studies.  Even the one semester ahead of me felt like too much.

The conversation moved to other places, and after awhile my friends left, our hearts each a little lighter from sharing burdens with one another.  I reached for my journal and let the ink take record of my wondering mind.  Why had I spent the past three years in academia if the truth was that I was an artist?

After many frustrated lines, I figured out that really I am both.  I am an artist.  I am an academic.  The interruption from my artist self was a declaration of the oppressed.  The artist desired her own liberation.  She was oppressed by too much time with books and not enough time creating.  And, the salvation of my whole self was at stake.  It was on her shoulders to raise her voice: “I am here.  I am you.  You are an artist.”

A few days later, I drove to the local craft store and picked up a sketchbook, pencils and some water colors.  After a few weeks went by, I decided to refinish my table.  (I sanded it with three different types of sand paper–all by hand–and covered it with polyurethane.)   And, then I decided I would take up book-binding.  I was inspired by a friend to try non-adhesive book-binding.

So far, I’ve made five journals.  I’ve given away all but one of them as gifts.  I have found I really enjoy being able to create something that is both beautiful and functional.  I’m delighted to think of these journals–with hand-folded pages, hand-stacked signatures and hand-woven bindings–holding the precious thoughts of my loved ones.

It’s been a joy, too, to learn to listen to myself.  When I begin to feel too academic, I add some creative processes to my life.  When I begin to feel too artsy, I pick up a book.

Balance is beautiful.  It has been my salvation.

For your pleasure, here are some photos of my creative process:

Covering book boards.

Boards and signatures waiting to be bound.

Punching holes into the boards.

Thread, needles and a square knot.

Beginnings of binding.

Double Coptic stitches.

The completed journal.

Forsythia, the Prophet

Posted in Spirituality with tags , , on 30 March 2012 by handpeaced

There she stands, boldest amongst her peers–the forsythia. A large bush–bright yellow–with none to equal her. Leaves on trees are still twisted into tiny spirals, not yet flung into the world. Yellow, with no green backdrop to take away her intensity. Not even the leaves on her own branches sprung. Nothing to tone her down.

Small flecks of yellow might be elsewhere–the daffodil. Though bright in her own way, Daffodil seems so tame in the garden plot, while Forsythia blooms wild with her whimsical and reaching branches.

Her peers? Plenty of other trees and shrubs have also bloomed. Some stretch taller. Others bloom broader. They bloom in pale pinks, sitting like small bouquets of ballet slippers on branches, delicate and refined. Beautiful, yet timid.

The forysthia, bright and bold, is a prophet declaring what is to come. With fortitude in these early days of spring, she declares, “Days of sunshine and warmth are ahead. It will come to pass soon.” Wild and free, forsythia stands. Her proclamation of the coming spring and summer are delivered with more boldness and more veracity than any other has dared. Who would not believe this living example of that which is to come?

The forsythia is a prophet who in her own self both hopes for and is convinced of something new ahead.

I want to be bold like the forsythia. I want to, in the very way I be, declare to the world that something new is here and is coming.

A prayer:

Lord, make me like a spring forsythia, boldly declaring the news of what is to come, while even being a part of it presently. Like the forsythia whose blooms proclaim that spring is just arrived and summer is only a few dreams away, may I bloom. May I announce in my very being that your Kingdom has dawned—You do reign!—and, something more is yet ahead. Make me a prophet, like the forsythia. Give me foresight to see and fortitude to hope for that which is ahead. Give me boldness to stand out, even amongst my peers. Give me strength that I might not wither, even in a few frosty mornings, because I’ve dared to bloom in a world where summer has not yet arrived.

Life Should be Celebrated

Posted in Nourishment, Spirituality with tags , , , on 20 March 2012 by handpeaced

Life should be celebrated.  That’s why my friend, David, received a decadent birthday cake to celebrate his 25 years of life and breath.

Friendship, I have been told, can be conceptualized in concentric circles around a core.  The core is the self.  Within the first concentric circle are those friends who are immediately next to the self–those most often privy to the “true self.”  Then there is the next sphere of friends.  These are not as intimate, but do share special moments and a good bit of quality time.  And, then there is the outer group of friends who by distance, time or simple lack of commonalities are considered friends, but remain in the outer sphere.  Certainly none of the people in these concentric circles are fixed, and sometimes a person from the outer perimeter will dip into the core at a key moment.

Friends aren’t systematically assigned to these different circles.  More, they just are in one circle or another based on how they relate to us.  My hunch is that even if you haven’t conceptualized friendship in this way, you already know it to be true in your heart.  There are those who are closest to you, those who are pretty close, and those who are more than acquaintances, but not best friends.

Maybe this is too heady a thing for friendship–a very heart-y thing.  But, isn’t friendship is an endeavor of both the heart and the head?  And, I find the model useful for guilt-relief.  Sometimes I feel guilty because a particular friend and I aren’t “core” friends.  But, thinking of this model helps me to rest.  I remember that my innermost sphere doesn’t have space enough for everyone.  In fact, in an identical mathematical model, the space between the innermost concentric circle and the core has the smallest area.  In the same way that space in friendship has the smallest room for others.  Too many people too close will cause tension on the core.  (Not enough friends around the core causes tension, too.)

That’s my small thought for the day.

Mostly, I just wanted to encourage you to celebrate your friends–no matter which sphere the occupy.  And, David’s birthday cake is one such celebration.  On to the gooey details…

The recipe I used for the cake batter was called: “Deep, Dark Chocolate Cake.”  It is baked in two 9″ pans.  Each 9″ cake was then cut into two, so the cake can be built into layers.

I made an espresso syrup to brush onto each layer, which serves the dual purposes of moisture and flavor.  The syrup?  Oh yes!  Dark rum that has been infused with a leftover vanilla bean pod for the last 3 weeks.  Some fresh espresso and sugar make it sweet and flavorful.

What else?  Chocolate ganache.  Yes, that’s chocolate and heavy cream melted together, chilled, and whipped.  This went between the deep, dark layers.

     

And for the top, then.  Of course, chocolate buttercream!

And this, my friends, is how we celebrate life together.  Do be sure to make time to celebrate.

Lenten Journey

Posted in Spirituality with tags , , , on 01 March 2012 by handpeaced

Every Sunday, some of my dearest friends and I gather for a potluck meal and fellowship. During Lent, we decided to be more intentional about spiritual reflection and prayer. So, I volunteered to lead the first devotional time. This is a small poem I wrote for those sacred moments.

Desert Paths

This is a season of the nomad
the pilgrim
the wayfarer
the stranger

A season of the journeyer

We journey inward

In contrition and mourning we reflect on our sins

With ashen foreheads we come sober to greet mortality

We move into and through dry deserts, barren wilderness and dark valleys

We cry–we call out and only hear our echo

We doubt the Presence dwelling with us

Sinai Wilderness

pitching a tent beside us

well in the desert; light in the valley

cloud by day; fire by night

We journey accompanied

As we journey inward

Pilgrims. Strangers. Wayfarers. Nomads

Postured Toward Provision

Posted in Spirituality with tags , , , on 14 January 2012 by handpeaced

I really enjoy running.  In fact, I can tell you honestly that I have never–not even once–regretted a run I have taken!  For the past year or so, after running I complete a series of yoga poses which stretch out my lower back and hips.  The last pose is one for relaxation and it is called the “dead man’s pose.”  (Inclusive language=dead person’s pose.)

I hold the pose for around 2 minutes, and I’m sure I look somewhat like a person who has dropped dead in a really comfy position.  (In fact, when my roommate walks into the room, I generally warn her by saying “Dead man’s pose,” so she doesn’t think I have literally dropped into a dead person’s posture just after my jog.)  The position–imagine with me–involves laying on you back, arms beside your body and palms facing upward.  Tension in the legs dissipates and therefore the ankles turn out a bit.  As I understand it, one’s goal is to get the body to be totally relaxed and open.

Often during dead person’s pose, because my physical body feels open, vulnerable and receptive, I begin to imagine my spirit postured similarly.  My hands facing upward, remind me that God can and often does provide.  Then, I pray that God would provide.  Sometimes I pray for specific concerns, and sometimes I pray more generally, acknowledging that God’s knows my needs better that I do.  In these precious 2 minutes after a run, when I strike the person’s pose, I posture myself toward God’s provision.  My anxiety about providing all my own needs is put to rest and I being to trust in the Lord for that day.

I admit, do not know what to say about God’s provision in light of the reality of some people in the world who are literally starving, their needs unmet… apparently unprovided for.  But, thinking about myself being provided for in the modest ways that I have been, I guess it isn’t so far of a stretch to think about God using me to help provide for others.  Maybe I will begin including that in my prayer for provision, and afterwards, then, take on a new posture toward service.