Tuesday, December 20, 2011

i am of apollo

I have grown weary and worn and discouraged and even hurt by the dividing that happens in this "kingdom of God".  Wheat or tares, sheep or goats... Driscoll or Bell...  in or out... weren't we told by Jesus that was a job for the angels???

I am far from the place I began my journey sitting with my head covered, silent in that little Bible Chapel on Walworth Street in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

I have felt the sorting.  The dividing, the parsing into clubs that so many need to feel safe. I have been made to feel many times that I have stepped off that straight and narrow path I was raised on... how tragic it is that for me personally this path I tread now has lead me deeper and farther into my own heart and the heart of God than I have ever had before.

I found at a time, when everything tasted like dust, words and thoughts that very few in the kingdom would dare to utter.  They were life to me.  A clarion call through the fog that my spiritual life had become.  Creativity and soul and poetry and art were supposed to be a part of this journey, not a trivial waste of time or effort?!?!  I found those words in the mouth of a boy named Rob Bell... he was a punk kid at a conference I attended, in a little room at a big hotel, late at night while rock concerts were going on in the big room.  He had made a movie, it was like 6 minutes long... and nobody knew who he was.  He was humble, quirky and deep.  I liked him instantly.  There were only about two dozen of us in the room.  He talked about his idea to tell the truth, but tell it slant (not his words, but mine...errr. well Emily's)  And I have followed him since.

I never really had a pastor before that time, mostly they were my husbands bosses, or back in the old days pastors were not "biblical"... so Rob Bell became a pastor to me, far away, words listened to through my computer, films watched on dvd... words read on pages of quirky weird postmodern books, but they fed a part of my soul that had been starved since I was a child.  Life became much more full, I became much less morose and God incarnated within me and gave birth to a soul that I never dreamed could be possible.

Is this the path everyone should be walking? I don't think so, but for me I honestly can say it changed everything.  It may have even saved my life.  I have felt great shame for my emerging soul.  I have kept much of my writing and passion to myself because of that severe judgement and wrath sent upon the heads of those who stuck their necks out.  I have lost friends, family and relationships because of my journey.

My word for 2012 is BRAVE.  As a part of embracing that word I have decided that I'm going to let the chips fall where they may.  I'm tired of feeling ashamed for something that brings me great joy and life - and I'm done hiding my self, silencing my voice and folding myself into tiny little pieces to keep others mollified.  I will not argue. I will not debate. But I will not be silent any more.  More light than heat is what I long for.  I'm weary of that age old division, that snide looking down the nose of those who hold their faith in exclusive clubs.  I don't belong, I never have, but I have found a place where I have community, and deep conversation and inspiration and real life.  I am of Paul... I am of Apollo... I am finished.  I am beginning.

This morning I was pushed by the words I read, again, by Rob Bell in his farewell to his church, many of them have had to sit with the same judgement and disdain that I have felt - his response and encouragement to them took my breath away. 

"i write this to you because of how many of you have been
challenged about your participation in the life of this
church, often with the accusation: but what do they believe
over there at mars hill?
as if belief, getting the words right, is the highest form of
faith. Jesus came to give us life. a living, breathing, throbbing,
pulsating blow your hair back tingle your spine roll the
windows down and drive fast experience of God right
here, right now.
word taking on flesh and blood.
and so you've found yourself defending and explaining
and trying to find the words for your experience that is
fundamentally about a reality that is beyond and more than
so when you find yourselves tied up in knots, having
long discussions about who believes what, a bit like
dogs doing that sniff circle when they meet on the sidewalk,
do this:
take out a cup
and some bread
and put it in the middle of the table,
and say a prayer and examine yourselves
and then make sure everybody's rent is paid and there's
food in their fridge and clothes on their backs
and then invite everybody to say
'yes' to the resurrected Christ with whatever 'yes' they
can muster in the moment and then you take that bread
and you dip it in that cup in the ancient/future hope and
trust that there is a new creation bursting forth right here
right now and
then together taste that new life and liberation and
forgiveness and as you look those people in the eyes gathered around that table from all walks of life and you see the new
humanity, sinners saved by grace, beggars who have
found bread showing the others beggars where they found it
remind yourselves that
remember, the movement is word to flesh.
beware of those who will take the flesh and want to turn it
back into words"

Beware of those who will take the flesh and want to turn it back into words...

I welcome you to break bread with me - to find the common in and amongst our uncommon ways.  I bless you on your path, and know that mine is mine alone - and I walk with those limping, misfit, rag tag bunch of ragamuffins I adore.

You can find the complete farewell here:  Rob Bell's Parting Epistle to Mars Hill:  Grace + Peace

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Fair Trade Christmas Gift Links

A friend posted a plea for help in finding fair trade Christmas gifts as their family gift exchange requirement was that all gifts be fair trade.  It's a great idea and I offered to help with the links that I have culled over the years - and instead of posting 15 different facebook updates I thought I'd put them all here so that she and anyone else looking can have this reference.  I will be happy to update the list if you leave me links in the comments with your favorite products and sites.  These are in no particular order and I am not affiliated or associate or benefiting from any of these links:

These are not necessarily "fair trade gifts" - but support great work on the ground in locations where these NGO's are located:

Hope that helps - by no means exhaustive - but will give you a good start :) (again, will gladly add any links to other fair trade items left in the comments)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


I love Brian Selznick's original book The Invention of Hugo Cabret so much and cannot wait for the movie this Christmas - his second work Wonderstruck just released yesterday and I am excited to get my little hands on it.  Selznick not only authors the works, but uses the most detailed pencil sketches.

This book weaves two stories, one told in text, one told in illustrations together until they become one.  I cannot wait to read it.  Here is the beautiful teaser Scholastic put together for his new work.  Enjoy!
Don't miss the great article in Brain Pickings - Wonderstruck: Remarkable New Work from Brian Selznick

Monday, September 05, 2011

September resolutions

It seems to me that January resolutions are about will; September resolutions are about authentic wants.... The beauty of autumnal resolutions is that no one else knows we're making them. Autumnal resolutions don't require horns, confetti and champagne. September resolutions ask only that we open to positive change.

Source: Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance via herondance.org

Saturday, August 13, 2011


"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but really loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real, you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out, and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real, you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

Source: The Velveteen Rabbit

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

A small gift of a film landed in my lap today. I found myself feeling melancholy about the loss of my fall position as librarian and caretaker of the stories at the elementary school I have been working at for the past couple of years. Most of the time I don't dwell on it, but with the dreary rain today and the smell of fall in the air already my heart began to break again for the loss of those small wee faces upturned to hear me read to them my favorite stories and to help them find their own.

I can't even re-create the steps that brought me to Moonbot Studios website for morrislessmore.com but I was instantly enchanted. I poked through the site, watched all of the vimeos available and was hooked enough to lay down real money to download the short award winning film. It is stunning and heartfelt. Have not been so moved by film since the first 30 minutes of Pixar's Up.

It begins in New Orleans and tells the story of the hurricane stealing everyones stories. Miraculously no words are spoken but hope is restored for this community as Morris finds his own story again. Watch for the little red head at the end of the film... she too was a keeper of stories, even for a short time.

Please make sure to click through this link to watch a tiny preview - it won't let me embed it here - you won't regret it, promise.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

Monday, July 18, 2011

Humpback whale says thank you to the people who saved her

This is so moving - an incredible metaphor for freedom - the joy with which she explodes from the water afterward is magical.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Don't turn your back on the possibility

To embrace one's brokenness, whatever it looks like, whatever has caused it, carries within it the possibility that one might come to embrace one's healing, and then one might come to the next step: to embrace another and their brokenness and their possibility for being healed. To avoid one's brokenness is to turn one's back on the possibility that the Healer might be at work here, perhaps for you, perhaps for another.

Source: Robert Benson, Living Prayer


Monday, July 04, 2011

Soul Gardens

Here's the link to the talk I gave last week at church - I was really happy with the way it all came together:

Soul Gardens

Friday, July 01, 2011

The spaces in between

What makes a fire burn
is space between the logs,
a breathing space.
Too much of a good thing,
too many logs
packed in too tight
can douse the flames
almost as surely
as a pail of water would.

So building fires
requires attention
to the spaces in between,
as much as to the wood.

When we are able to build
open spaces
in the same way
we have learned
to pile on the logs,
then we can come to see how
it is fuel, and absence of the fuel
together, that make fire possible.

We only need to lay a log
lightly from time to time.
A fire
simply because the space is there,
with openings
in which the flame
that knows just how it wants to burn
can find its way.

Judy Brown
Source: Teaching With Fire
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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Don't even know where to start

I have been such a negligent blogger as of late - mostly just putting quotes in place so that I can reference them at a future time...  on the bright side my life outside of the internet is lovely.  We played host to University students as they prepared for their Europe term, they are traveling now and our home is much quieter and we miss them dearly.

On the sculpture front we realized in April that the idealism of fall - doing a major outdoor project before May - was naive at best.  We informed the head of the competition that we would still be very interested in participating, but we would be unable to make the end of May deadline as the weather has just not been our friend this year.  I guess growing up in Southern Wisconsin & Ontario gave us a false sense of what spring could be - and this spring here in New Brunswick has been non-existent.  So glad we made that call, and that we have been invited to participate in next years competition - so we will be using the summer months (if we ever really get a summer) to create the sculpture and enter in next years competition.  Good news all around.

I am heading to a 3 day silent retreat tomorrow and really looking forward to it.  It is sponsored by my spiritual director and while I am a bit anxious the idea of silence and solitude, harvesting my journals and being creative without words will be special, maybe even sacred.

We are making good progress on our yard and hope to have the stone patio in place in a few weeks and then we can begin to focus on making the outdoor brick oven we hope to have in place by the end of summer.  So hard to accomplish any of this with all of the yucky weather we've had, but when you look at the flooding, tornadoes and wild fires others are dealing with I guess grey, rainy days should be the least of our worries.

Hope this finds you all well, miss the heydays of blogging we used to have.  But I guess that season helped us all get to where we are now.  Doing a lot of writing off line now...  maybe one day I'll be back to a regular blog, until then I guess it will just be random updates and interactions.  Take care!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Note to self

…gradually you come under the right influences, picking and choosing, and being selective, and then maybe your voice is the combination of 6 or 8 other voices that you have managed to blend in such a way that nobody can recognize your sources. You can learn intimacy from Whitman, you can learn the dash from Emily Dickinson…you can pick a little bit from every writer and you combine them. This allows you to be authentic. That’s one of the paradoxes of the writing life: that the way to originality is through imitation.
— Billy Collins, at the White House’s Poetry Workshop
Watch the broadcast Heidi!!!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Ah - this is so ME!

PHENOMENON: When you read more than you speak, often you don’t pronounce the words properly in your mind when you read. So what you end up with is a new 2 second lag before you figure out how to say certain non phonetic words you lazily read incorrectly all of the time.
Kelly Oxford (Yes.)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hoarding ashes

“The impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.”

- Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

via Austin Kleon

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Do not despise the here and now...

"In order to arrive there,
To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not."

- T.S. Eliot, a small sliver from his poem "East Coker"

thank you Erin.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Do Not Be Ashamed - Wendell Berry

You will be walking some night
in the comfortable dark of your yard
and suddenly a great light will shine round about you,
and behind you will be a wall you never saw before.
It will be clear to you suddenly that you were about to escape,
and that you are guilty:
you misread the complex instructions,
you are not a member,
you lost your card or never had one.
And you will know that they have been there all along,
their eyes on your letters and books,
their hands in your pockets,
their ears wired to your bed.
Though you have done nothing shameful,
they will want you to be ashamed.
They will want you to kneel and weep
and say you should have been like them.
And once you say you are ashamed,
reading the page they hold out to you,
then such light as you have made in your history will leave you.
They will no longer need to pursue you.
You will pursue them, begging forgiveness.
They will not forgive you.
There is no power against them.
It is only candor that is aloof from them,
only an inward clarity, unashamed, that they cannot reach.
Be ready.
When their light has picked you out
and their questions are asked,
say to them: "I am not ashamed."
A sure horizon will come around you.
The heron will begin his evening flight from the hilltop.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

but I say hello....

“Goodbyes always make my throat hurt…I need more hellos.”

- Charlie Brown

Friday, April 01, 2011

A Purification

At the start of spring I open a trench
in the ground. I put into it
the winter's accumulation of paper,
pages I do not want to read
again, useless words, fragments,
errors. And I put into it
the contents of the outhouse:
light of the sun, growth of the ground,
finished with one of their journeys.
To the sky, to the wind, then,
and to the faithful trees, I confess
my sins:that I have not been happy
enough, considering my good luck;
have listened to too much noise;
have been inattentive to wonders;
have lusted after praise.
And then upon the gathered refuse
of mind and body, I close the trench,
folding shut again the dark,
the deathless earth. Beneath that seal
the old escapes into the new.

Source: Wendell Berry, Teaching With Fire

Add your thoughts at inward/outward

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A profound mystery

The leavening of yeast must have seemed to ancient men a profound mystery, and yet something on which they could always depend. Just so does the supernatural enter our natural life, working in the hiddenness, forcing the new life into every corner and making the dough expand.

If the dough were endowed with consciousness, it would not feel very comfortable while the yeast was working. Nor, as a rule, does our human nature feel very comfortable under the transforming action of God, steadily turning one kind of love into another kind of love--desire into charity, clutch into generosity, Eros into Agape.

Creation is change, and change is often painful and mysterious to us. Spiritual creation means a series of changes, which at last produce a Holiness, God's aim for us.

Source: Evelyn Underhill, The School of Charity

Read more and add your thoughts at inward/outward

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dry Ground Planting: Before Easter

Harold R. Wilkins
For Karis - Happy Birthday my friend!

When I was little
we stepped down hard
on our dark iron spades
previously sharpened by hand
with whetstone and well water
til the shovels’ edges
shined a silver hem all around
their cutting aprons...

all in order to turn the dry person,
I mean, the dry earth
over for the new outlook to be
forced into the dead ground
of the mind and heart,
I mean, the seed, of course,
the seed to be forced
into the winter weary ground...
and all this
in the time before Easter...

far down in the bodies of humans,
the river Esperanza, Hope
is buried in the unconscious,
but has kept the human heart alive
even through deadened life, I mean
of course, the land, I meant
the dry land of the Midwest contained
this secret miracle
that the spade brought to light...
Though a mile away, the St. Joe river
had kept the earth deep down
moist, a little mucky even,
and ready to clasp
the seed just right
til it could break through to the Light.

Sometimes, hitting a stretch
of fine, dry topsoil
our grandmothers,
in a display of strength
enough for nine men
and nine horses,
would throw shovelfulls
of the black dust up
into the air,
grab our little hands,
and we would rush forward...
eyes clamped closed and
holding our breath...
we would rush
through the cloud of
airborn earth,
coughing after,
but feeling holy

And our grandmothers
over so many years,
telling these ways of
living more
and freshly every time,
would aver that no matter
what week it fell
or falls upon in this year,
This opening of the earth
and turning it over
from its dry side
to its wet side
was our Ash Wednesday
the original sacramental...

that is...
the original remembering
of the battering
the New Child of Light
both receives and takes,
and that this Child of Light,
regardless of the 40 days
of suffering the hail of fists
or like our fields, the hail
of ice; the starvation of
no water but gall given,
or like our fields,
the gasping for lack of water...
that the Holy One, even if in
retreat, like our fields
in fallow or draught,
seeming with green song dead,
will nonetheless Live
again, come back to life, again,
no matter what.

Thus in all these years
when I am as old now
as my grandmothers were
back then, and
my silver lipped spade
has become my pen,
and the earth that has
wintered so hard in the field,
is now my body and my mind,
my heart and spirit,
my soul ...

and my thoughts
‘that once were’--
are the dry dust now.
And the thoughts
raining into me now,
sucking for ‘new life’-
are the wet side of the earth,
now cut into me,
spaded down deep in me,
hefted and turned upward
with great effort, slammed
down hard
to break the clods

This spading will go on,
cutting, hefting, slamming
and breaking
as all are readied to receive
the hand-chosen seeds
kept safe over winter.

When the flower is greater
than the weather, we will
be done for now.

Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Lent 2011 - Food as Holy Provision and Simple Gift

Lent snuck up on me again this year and I find giving things up without some consideration and time isn't helpful for me personally. Any time I create a vacuum in my life it ends up being filled by something; usually something worse than what I had given up. In previous years I intentionally replaced what I am fasting with a positive practice that makes life more balanced for me - I did not take the time to prepare this year, so I have chosen to use this Lenten season to consider deeply the food I eat, the emotions tied to it and the practices around it.

As a woman with an eating disorder and a long history of body issues I have had some healing and wholeness replace much of the distortion I grew up with around food, nourishment and self image. Far too often though I find that many who do find life long recovery with an eating disorder never find the joy and the celebration in food that I think God intended us to live with. Food is always the enemy, the foe or the temptation. I'm not sure that real healing stops there. I long to find the place of balance, where food is neither my best friend, or my worst enemy. Those around us know that we love to cook and celebrate with food here at the Turner household. We are slowly learning to replace the over processed and restaurant food we were raised on with home made recipes and healthy alternatives. Each layer of healing pulls us more toward the center of who we long to be.

I have also found that far too often that there can be a legalism that creeps into the healthy food mentality - the once "holier than thou" that rubbed me raw in my childhood has, at times, become "granolier than thou" and I bristle at the rigidity that some circles have around healthier eating. I long to find a balance and find the invitation into healthier choices instead of being guilted and shamed into changes I am not really ready for.

To that end I was thrilled to find that Richard Rohr's Center for Action and Contemplation is spending Lent 2011 on this same track -
Lent 2011 is a time for self-examination and reflection. Usually, "good" religious observers eliminate sweets or other foods that distract from God. This year, the Center for Action and Contemplation invites you to discover food and the act of eating as something to embrace and reclaim as a daily and sacramental action.

In 1825, the French philosopher and gourmand Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote, "Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are." Since our culture has commodified food, and eating has been reduced to a consumer act, our hope is that in this daily meditation, we will begin to connect more deeply to food as a soul activity. One that connects us with rain, sun, soil, wind, animal and the farmer who has bent to sow, grow, and harvest the food that nourishes our collective body and soul daily.

Join in here: Lent 2011 - Food as Holy Provision and Simple Gift

And on that same note I awoke to this on my facebook feed. While I know that Hellmen's is owned by Unilever and it is actually part of the problem, not the solution, the information in this video is striking in the way it turns stats and information into tangible, visual understanding:

Image: "Stilleben," Floris van Dyck, 1613

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Utterly ignorant of celebration

The spiral of materialism is eternal and never ends.... The materialist is never satisfied. For the heart is not made full or satisfied by any, or even all, of the things that the religion of materialism and its preachers of advertising want so desperately to sell us. "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be," warned Jesus. And the treasures that lead to compassionate living are not buyable because they are less objects than they are experiences.... Greed never asks when is enough, enough? It knows nothing of limits. Therefore, it knows nothing of the true pleasures that life is about. It is utterly ignorant of celebration.
Source: Matthew Fox, A Spirituality Named Compassion

Add your thoughts at inward/outward

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Michael Leunig pt. 2

Had not heard of Michael Leunig before I posted yesterday, found out that he's an Australian artist/poet/cartoonist - and another poem of his showed up on my facebook page today - enjoy!

Love and fear / Michael Leunig

There are only two feelings, Love and fear:
There are only two languages, Love and fear:
There are only two activities, Love and fear:
There are only two motives, two procedures,
two frameworks, two results, Love and fear,
Love and fear.

If you're enjoying these you will LOVE his art - his cartoons are wonderful:

Michael Leunig

97% of Women Will Be Cruel to Their Bodies Today

This month in Glamour Magazine is an incredible article everyone needs to read - even men - we need this to stop, 97% of women are verbally abusive to themselves each and every day, most of us far more than once a day.  As a woman who has struggled all my whole life long with an eating disorder I know the cruelty that I have treated myself with - never would I speak those words to another, or allow myself to be spoken to in that way - it's more than our bodies, we need to change our minds, hearts and souls.

Read these words: “You are a fat, worthless pig.” “You’re too thin. No man is ever going to want you.” “Ugly. Big. Gross.” Horrifying comments on some awful website? The rant of an abusive, controlling boyfriend? No; shockingly, these are the actual words young women are saying to themselves on any typical day. For some, such thoughts are fleeting, but for others, this dialogue plays on a constant, punishing loop, according to a new exclusive Glamour survey of more than 300 women of all sizes. Our research found that, on average, women have 13 negative body thoughts daily—nearly one for every waking hour. And a disturbing number of women confess to having 35, 50 or even 100 hateful thoughts about their own shapes each day.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Live Slowly

God help us to live slowly:
To move simply:
To look softly:
To allow emptiness:
To let the heart create for us.
Source: Michael Leunig, The Prayer Tree

Add your thoughts at inward/outward

Monday, February 07, 2011

Synchroblog: Creativity and Christianity

Surprisingly one of the best parts of our move to New Brunswick was the lack of really, consistently good restaurants available to us. There are a few, but far too often we would get frustrated with their lack of variety, hit-or-miss menu or just the unfamiliarity of it all. We had favorite foods that we couldn't find or weren't up to our hopes, so we determined to make them ourselves.

I could have never known how much joy and satisfaction cooking and hospitality has brought to our family. We really love to create meals together, be bold and experiment with tastes and new foods. It's been an amazing surprise for us all. We're all healthier and far more adventurous than we could have dreamed.

One of the motivators for our culinary quest was a celebration meal we had at a highly recommended restaurant in our area. The menu was vast, every type of food available, so many options. We each ordered just what we wanted and it was set before us, attractively prepared, but when we tasted the food it was like eating left overs. Keith and I looked at each other, not wanting to wreck Ali & Jake's enjoyment of a night out, but very disappointed in the amount of money we were spending for such unappetizing food. As we left the restaurant we saw into the kitchen things we could not see in the light of the finishing day. Microwave upon microwave. The chef was a very talented cook. His original creation was probably wonderful. Unfortunately his vast menu was the downfall of his service. Trying to keep up with all of the items required him to make in bulk and freeze items for later use. Creativity in the can. Freeze dried moments in time.

I find I have much of the same experience when I come in contact with things labeled "Christian art", "Christian music" and "Christian fiction". I am not saying that it is all bad, there are many talented musicians, authors and artists that produce within the evangelical mainstream. What feels pre-packaged to me is the desperate need to over explain, direct and homogenize the "message".

I am re-reading Madeline L'Engle's Walking on Water, Reflections on Faith and Art as I prepare for the largest art project I've ever undertaken. She draws the distinction between overtly religious books she was given as a child and the story of The Secret Garden. She says:

"The Secret Garden is probably the most successful and most read and re-read of Burnett's books; it is also Christian, though I don't remember whether or not it ever mentions Jesus. And it is more successful than Little Lord Fauntleroy, for instance, because it is a better piece of storytelling, less snobbish, and the message doesn't show, like a slip hanging below the hem of a dress. I think we can all recognize ourselves, at least to some degree, in Mary Lennox, who is as spoiled and self-centered a child as one can find, thoroughly nasty and unlovable, basically because she's never been taught to love anybody but herself. The secret garden is as much the garden of Mary's heart as it is the walled English garden, and we watch Mary's slow growth into the realization of other people's needs and then into love. Mary's journey into love is, in fact, her journey into Christ, though this is never said and does not need to be said."

"Like a slip hanging below the hem of a dress" - that metaphor says it all for me. Can we tell the story and allow those who receive it to meet it in their own gentle way? Jesus always allowed for this. Story is portable, I carry it with me when I go, unpacking it at my leisure, retrieving from it what I am able and returning to it again and again for something new. When we over-explain or feel the need to only tell ONE story over and over again, recycling the "come to Jesus" moment in every script, story and song the only people left listening are those who no longer need that story.

Redemption is found in the most elemental of places. When something that is lost becomes found we all connect with that emotion and depth. When things are laid bare like a slip below the hem line there is no mystery to unpack, no resonance to echo, no unpacking left to do. Those are the stories, the songs and the scripts that leave me cold, like that re-heated meal at the restaurant. Instead I am warmed and I find a deeper satisfaction by the cooking of our own meals, our kitchen filled with steam and laughter, sometimes even chaos and frustration, but most of the time love and connection. Creating teaches me about God. Becoming a co-creator engages me in the story, in the majesty, in the redemption.

I was raised in a rather sparse corner of the faith kingdom. Bare walls, few instruments and little story. It nearly squished all of the life out of my little bohemian heart. There were life guards along my path though, teachers engaging me in great literature, explaining the stories behind the music, fanning the flame that was my soul. How sad that so little of that happened within my faith structure, that most of the stories I did hear there were of fear and conformity. I felt like an outsider even in the club, and at times, especially in the club. Nothing in me ever wanted to rebel. I possessed a deep longing to glorify God and bring joy; how unfortunate that there were so few channels to do so within the church.

Instead I changed, I conformed and I did my level best to live in a way that fit. It was obvious to everyone including me how little I understood the rules, knew the script and could follow the directions, I truly never did fit in. It was never out of a sour heart, just a total lack of instinct. So I shut down. I withdrew. I projected a persona that could maintain a small social interaction, but did not allow for my inner person to be seen. It wasn't safe, I wasn't sure.

It has been years of healing and growth that has finally brought me to a place of beginning to own my co-creator-ness in a more public manner. Some of my art hangs framed on the walls of my home. I make gifts from time to time for others. Each risk in turn brings the capacity to take a larger one. And it has finally come to the time when I must throw caution to the wind and try for all I am worth to own this bohemian soul I have been given. Hippie to the heart, grace to myself and others, storyteller and redemption junkie. I am going big or going home.

This Friday is the 2nd deadline for our entry in the Kingsbrae Garden sculpture contest. We have cleared the first hurdle, and are prepared for the second. I am sending in the photos of the maquette we have created. It is a miniature of a 50' long mother humpback whale and her 15' calf. The mother's blow hole and the calf's fluke will be done in cement mosaic, the rest of the form will rise,out of the sod, as if you were standing on the edge of a whale watching ship - go big or go home...

I am terrified, electric, overwhelmed and excited. None of this necessarily fits into the "Christian Art" category, but it is the most deeply spiritual exercise of my life.

L'Engle likens the setting aside of Christ's power to become a man to that of the artist. Loss of control, becoming a servant of the work is what each author, composer and artist pray for. Annunciation is the most Christ-like act on the face of the earth. Setting aside our power for the sake of another. She says:

"But the reality of the outcome of all annunciations is a reality which is scoffed at by most of the world. It is one of the great triumphs of Lucifer that he has managed to make Christians (Christians!) believe that a story is a lie, that a myth should be outgrown with puberty, that to act in a play is inconsistent with true religion."

"Obedience is an unpopular word nowadays, but the artist must be obedient to the work, whether it be a symphony, a painting, or a story for a small child. I believe that each work of art, whether it is a work of great genius or something very small, comes to the artist and says, "Here I am. Enflesh me. Give birth to me." And the artist either says, "My soul doth magnify the Lord," and willingly becomes the bearer of the work, or refuses; but the obedient response is not necessarily a conscious one, and not everyone has the humble, courageous obedience of Mary."

"Christian art? Art is art; painting is painting; music is music, a story is a story. If it's bad art, it's bad religion, no matter how pious the subject. If it's good art...and there the questions start coming, questions which it would be simpler to evade."

Creativity & Christianity should never be enemies. Profanity yes, but engaging as a co-creator with God is the highest calling we all can have in any sense of our lives.

We have been approved for a Kickstarter application - if we make it over the next hurdle we will be broadcasting our need of patrons here very soon. We would love for you to be co-creators with us in this endeavor. We will also be documenting this process - nearly 25 years of marriage has taught us that even the most simple things can bring out the worst and best in us - we can imagine how something this huge and creative could really become a spectator sport, so we'll track our progress of the whole process here:


Ironically - it is currently very IMPERFECT - as we are having horrible problems with images and css - if any of you are code wizards your help would not go unrecognized - we have a great wordpress theme, but are really struggling with all of the tiny bits of customization.

This blog post is part of a communal synchro-blog effort - you can find more on Creativity & Christianity here:

February Synchroblog - Creativity & Christianity

here are the link lists so far for February synchroblog:

Beatrice and Virgil - Yann Martel

Long awaited (by me) new book by Yann Martel - Beatrice and Virgil - reviewed here by The Rabbit Room - love this quote oh so much:

I leave you with Martel’s own words via Beatrice, a donkey accompanying his monkey companion, Virgil, during their walking conversation.

Virgil: I was thinking about faith.

Beatrice: Were you?

Virgil: Faith is like being in the sun. When you are in the sun, can you avoid creating a shadow? Can you shake that area of darkness that clings to you, always shaped like, as if constantly to remind you of yourself? You can’t. This shadow is doubt. And it goes wherever you go as long as you stay in the sun. And who wouldn’t want to be in the sun?

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Kickstart an album project for The Geese

Good friends, great band, wonderful cause - please support their indy music - deep, deep souls.

Friday, February 04, 2011

When ideas become defenses

We operate with the assumption that giving people new ideas changes people. It doesn’t. Believing ideas is, in fact, a way of not having to change in any significant way, especially if you can argue about them. Ideas become defenses.

If you have the right words, you are considered an orthodox and law-abiding Christian. We burned people at the stake for not having the right words, but never to my knowledge for failing to love or forgive, or to care for the poor. Religion has had a love affair with words and correct ideas, whereas Jesus loved people, who are always imperfect.

You do not have to substantially change to think some new ideas. You always have to change to love and forgive ordinary people. We love any religion that asks us to change other people. We avoid any religion that keeps telling us to change.

Richard Rohr, Adapted from How Men Change: A Thin Time (CD, DVD, MP3)

Friday, January 14, 2011


I don't care if no one likes it, she said, unless no one likes it. ~ The Story People

This one made me laugh out loud today. Starting a HUGE art project and I am internalizing these thoughts even before I begin...

Thursday, January 06, 2011


What a difference! The three kings had only a rumor to go by. But it moved them to make that long journey. The scribes were much better informed, much better versed. They sat and studied the Scriptures like so many dons, but it did not make them move. Who had the more truth? The three kings who followed a rumor, or the scribes who remained sitting with all their knowledge?

Source: Soren Kierkegaard, Only Rumor

Monday, January 03, 2011

Vulnerable like a bird

Bird in Snow
Birds have become an important metaphor for me this past year - so I really loved this thought:

Life is precious. Not because it is unchangeable, like a diamond, but because it is vulnerable, like a little bird. To love life means to love its vulnerability, asking for care, attention, guidance, and support. Life and death are connected by vulnerability. The newborn child and the dying elder both remind us of the preciousness of our lives. Let's not forget the preciousness and vulnerability of life during the times we are powerful, successful, and popular. ~ Henri Nouwen

Saturday, January 01, 2011

O God, make me discontented

O God, make me discontented with things
the way they are in the world,
and in my own life.
Make me notice the stains when people get spilled on.
Make me care about the slum child downtown,
the misfit at work,
the people crammed into the mental hospital,
the men, women and youth behind bars.
Jar my complacency,
expose my excuses,
get me involved in the life of my city and world.
Give me integrity once more,
O God, as we seek to be changed
and transformed,
with a new understanding and awareness
of our common humanity.

Robert Raines