Friday, September 08, 2006

You are like a Hurricane

During Lent last spring I was tempted to 'give up' something meaningful. And then I remembered that the past 12 months were about giving many things up and away. I decided to embrace instead of push away, to add instead of subtract. I decided that I was going to pour my Lenten meditations and prayers into my fingers and onto paper.

It had been years since I had allowed myself the freedom to do art. I completed three pieces, each in a different medium. This one is my favorite. It is a self-portrait.

It didn't begin that way. I just had my sketchbook, my pastels and the sunny warmth of the front porch at 29 Union calling to me. I would have never set out to draw myself. I don't know what happened.

I have never been light on my feet. I guess I've always been too self-conscious. I'm sure the church's stern frown upon dancing in my younger years had is affect. Needless to say, I have rarely lost myself in the moment of movement and the dance of joy.

But, there were two euphoric recollections of freedom that have etched their way deep into my memories. I guess they came to life here on this page.

The first was during my college years while staffing a week of camp. This was not the camp of my childhood and they held a DANCE (gasp) for their campers and it shocked my little Brethren roots to the core. I watched from the sidelines with my pharisaic nose in the air. Until the dj called all of the females, young and old to the center of the floor. How could I not go?

We all joined hands and he played Cyndi Lauper's Girls Just Want to Have Fun - and we circled and circled, spinning faster and faster. I have never felt so free. So full of life and so uninhibited. All self-consciousness stripped away and I joined the whole instead of the fear of the one alone. The isolation that comes from judgment can be a desolate thing indeed.

The second time was only about five years ago, at the National Youth Workers Convention in Pittsburgh. They invited Andy Hunter to a late night option to give us a taste of what England was doing on the rave front. I was so excited. Keith not so much. I wanted to get lost in the crowd and find that place of becoming part of the whole in worship.

Walking into the room they reserved was a huge disappointment. About 12 people were on the dance floor with about 20 more watching. At a convention of 1000's I had to admit that I was more than a bit saddened that more people weren't joining in so that I could loose my inhibitions and spin. Childhood restrictions on dance also make for little grace and ease of movement on the dance floor. I pictured myself doing the "Elaine" and becoming a spectacle instead of a sum of the parts that make up the whole.

We sat at the sidelines, Keith wanting to leave, I wanting to stay until more people showed up. Then I noticed that his stage was set up in front of a large curtained off section of the room. I got up, without telling Keith where I was going and snuck back behind the curtain. No one could see me. I became invisible even to myself, and able to dance for that audience of One. Tentatively I put out my arms, I closed my eyes and began to feel the beat and I swayed and wove my hands into the music. My feet were still firmly etched to the floor though.

A couple of minutes changed that as I realized my invisible safety and then I began to spin - I know it wasn't full of dancer-like grace and moves of skill, but rather it seemed like the three year old I once was turning in time to the music of Lawrence Welk my parents often listened to in my childhood. Although not artistic in the least I was free and worshipping my God to my full extent, body, soul & spirit, tears streaming down my face.

I think that it what flowed onto the paper here. I imagined myself in the middle of the greening grass, long skirts and sleeves flowing in the wind and spinning like my life depended on it. I was lost in the medium, adding color, my hands smearing and blurring, green, yellow, orange and red all swirling and whilrling onto the paper.

It is how I long to be - so carefree, so uninhibited, and fearless in my worship. So unlike reality.


I'm glad it's on paper. It makes it feel more real. It reminds me that there are times when heaven touches earth and I am transcendent in my worship. Freed from all that hangs on me, body and soul.

I realized after looking at it that it was so similar to a weather map of those tropical storms that whirl and spin in this season - so dangerous and out of control. Oh the damage they wreak and wreck.

That brought up another memory from when I was in middle school. Our bus driver was a crazy lump of a woman named Hilda. I remember crossing Highway 50 on the way home and we were sideswiped by a car on the four lane highway. After that we called her "Hurricane Hilda". It was then that the fear of the hurricane began winding it's way into my psyche.

Hilda is far too close to Heidi for my liking. I never wanted to be known as "Hurricane Heidi" - destruction, wind gusts of 100 mph, unruly wildness. Not the image the church ever told me a woman was to embrace. And far too much like the wild things I knew were deep within me.

This became a secret obsession of mine. Each hurricane season I would listen for the choice for "H" - fearing that my own name would be linked to those horrible tragedies. Hurricane Heidi. Oh the destruction, the devastation the wild things within me can wreak and wreck. Not a metaphor I welcomed freely.

Since then I have pondered it's similarity to the fears I have in embracing my voice and my call here in our new community. I have been silenced and silenced myself for so long that the power of the force within me terrifies me. Will I come on as a fire hose instead of a fountain? How will it ever be possible? How can I spin and not wreck? How can I participate and not be so self-conscious and afraid? How dear God can I serve you and fulfill the call you have on my life?

Only when I spin for You. Only when it is truly done in worship. God help me.


Anonymous said...

beautiful post and beautiful art. I think this is truly how our creator desires us to be. Free. And real heartfelt art reaches others. This piece of yours reminds me of my breakthrough with "dancing in thin places" and most recently "red" which I have not blogged about yet. There is a unique connection to the spirit when we worship in this way. This is a journey that I am on presently and it is very freeing.

Thank you for being so candid.


steph said...

Hurricanes are wind - yet the Spirit is wind which is wild, passionate and free, full of breath. These colours are life colours that seem to move with the unforced rhythms of grace. This portrait makes me think of the breath (Spirit) of life that causes movement, powerful movement forward into intimacy.

Hope said...

I loved it all....the picture is full of energy and life and so are your words.

Dancing for that audience of One. How I long for my whole life to be so free.

annie said...

Beautifully written. So much of what you said resonates with me. I have often wondered what would happen if I could only let myself go in worship.

And the self portrait! I did not even see "you" in there until I looked again after I read that it was a self portrait. It's gorgeous -- you are gorgeous!

wilsonian said...

So much to say here.

You have the gift of story. You tell stories with words and images. This is such a powerful gift; the very gift Jesus used so often and which has had such a powerful, lingering affect.

There is so much in this portrait. Fluid motion, circular/cyclical. Your movement seems like an embrace opening wider and wider to encompass ever more.

And I know that the red in the centre represents your hair, but I see in it your heart, at the very center, fanning into brighter flame with the motion.


Owen of 4 blogs said...

Even without the see through writing I would have enjoyed this piece - do follow that my friend? So, keep making art. Keep expressing yourself visually as often as you may. There is so much joy in the making of art and that, almost more than what others think or what we think they think {though all artists stumble over this, myself included} does not matter as much as what we know and feel as we make the art-play.


Connie said...

Hi Heidi,

I'm so glad you wrote to me. I would not want to miss this wonderful piece of art which is just the kind of thing we were doing this past week at The Salvation Army School for Music and Gospel Arts. Very free. Very expressive. A number of the young women used a great deal of orange and red or yellow in their work. I think that sometimes maturity for women does mean leaving pastels and flaming out in strong primary colours and the warmer mixes of the same.

Kids at camp had much freedom in far from the restrictions so many of us felt as we sat on the sidelines during square dancing classes at gym time. Fun night even included the uproarious Grand Old Duke of York, including discreet kisses, as 180 staff and students clumped up and down the auditorium. Every year, I see this as a miracle.

As for hurricanes...I don't think it would be too bad to be a force of nature, which you surely are. When I was very young an 'H' hurricane hit Toronto...the powerful Hurricane Hazel. Hurricanes are only destructive because we build civilizations in their paths. There may be an argument, something like the argument in favour of wildfires...that these elemental forces are a necessary part of ebb and flow of life. The blueberries of northern Ontario flourish after fire.

Your art does also remind me of fire...which can be the cleansing fire of God's Holy Spirit...the coals from off the altar...the burning bush...the fire in which Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were joined by the angel of the Lord. Are those intuitive wings i see in your self-portrait. Fly Heidi. Never hide.


ragamuffin diva said...

Gorgeous, alive, courageous. Just like you!