Perspective - Finding Beauty in the Plain Places

Lately, the Lord has been teaching me a lot about perspective. This morning as I walked by the river, I glanced down at this plain little decaying leaf and something about it intrigued me. I felt the Father's prompting to pick it up. It was very plain. As I walked on, holding the fragile leaf, I approached a little enclave with a park bench which sets nearly under the noisy bridge and the flowing river... what a juxtaposition. 

That bridge which is every morning cluttered with vehicles busily trying to get where they need to go carries me to my studio. I usually stop, darting out of the long line and pull into the park so I can have a few minutes of rest-searching for my day. Today rest found me as I was sitting on the bench studying the busy-ness of the bridge and the way the current flowed around the bridge columns. I could only think of how bland everything looked. It's a hot humid morning and the river smells bad and the traffic is noisy. I think about how we pollute our world and my heart longs for a mountain barely touched, a river rarely seen. I think about how it would be nice to vandalize the bridge columns and paint beautiful patterns there. My imagination runs wild with thoughts of how one... okay, of how I, may be able to paint the columns.... perhaps from a small boat or swinging from a tethered harness.... It would be some feat to bring beauty to the river under the bridge right here in the River Arts District of Asheville. I come back to reality and smile at my outlandish thoughts.... always thinking the impossible.... always seemingly caught up in the things that are too big to easily accomplish. 

I look down at my hands and ponder why I do this, and my eye is drawn to the leaf again... poor little ugly thing. I look closer. Why has this one found me this morning? I hold it up to the light and my perspective shifts. My spiritual eyes awaken. The yellow of the leaf comes into its radiance and the dance of light comes through the empty spaces of the decay. Beauty in the ugly. Radiance in the plain. Life in the death. I suppose it is all about our perspective. How we look at things... and whether we choose to search for the beauty. 

Cocoon Sailing - Shadow of Hope

"Shadow of Hope"
Mixed - Media
Cocoon Sailing Series (1)

This is the first piece in my new series, "Cocoon Sailing." It is made of tulle, chiffon, silk fibers, papers, purple threads,  sheet music and this amazing green woolen yarn mounted on a poplar branch.

Within the safety of the cocoon, the shadow of hope rests. There is a strip of sheet music within the tulle that says, "Shadows may fall upon the land and sea..." Have you ever longed for hope... you know Big Hope... hope that changes the world, even if in some small way? This piece is a reflection of being enlightened by the revelation of God's glory, knowing it can change things... shift atmospheres... transform paradigms... but because we know that is so huge, we cling to the soft place of the shadow of it. The hope of the Hope needs to be nurtured... thought on.... pondered. It needs to be held close within the soft words of the Father's heart. The other strip of sheet music in this piece says, "You said I was very nice to know." Isn't it beautiful that the Father says that to our hearts even when we can only hold a shadow? This shadow... the hope of Hope... seems to be the right place to begin with this series. It's the glimpse - the conception - of one day, sailing. It's the glimpse of soaring. These works are a looking back and a looking forward place for me - a way of processing some past memories and a way of artfully living into the future moments. May His grace cocoon every expression.

Birthing New Works - Sailing with His Wind

I began this morning with my walk by the river, watching the trees - no - the leaves sway over the ripples and the going-on currents. It was wonder... and I was sharing it with the Father. How good He is to give us beauty, awe, and wonder. How good He is to blow through this land... the land of my soul. I see and respond with a bowed heart... a quietness that sings loudly as an incense to Him.

A couple days ago, I was captured by an image of sail-ships on a vintage Horizon book. I've been processing the metaphor of sails and ships and wind for the past year. I've not created many things with my hands yet in the theme of sails, but many things I've painted and sculpted in my imagination. I saw a note recently in a friend's bible that said, "Miracles come from the imagination of God." I've pondered this intensely as I hold the imaginations of my heart, waiting for the birthing - the sailing. See, I want the very work of my hands to be miracles released - signs revealed, so there must be this holding of the holy within my God-embraced imagination until the delivery is evident. I've nurtured the development, and I'm feeling the revealing is near. 

I'm sensing to make cocoon-like shapes that appear to be like sails. This is a change for me - to shift to sculptural fiber forms rather than paintings... but I feel God's embrace with it for a season. I'm not sure what it will look like or how exactly it will feel. I've explored it all in minute ways in my paintings - a line here and a form there... but to purposefully process the sailing material in my hands - in the very fibers - is exciting to me. 

I've meandered through many changes over the past few months - being pulled by the updraft of God's will and blown slowly and swiftly with His myriad of breath blown into the the caverns of my being. I've taken in the hundreds of pieces He has given - the images,  the words, the songs, gifts of the minuteness of His creation. I've studied His wind. I've touched the veins of the leaves. I've watched them sail. The effect of the wind upon the waters and the land is ever-mesmerizing. Have you ever noticed how water moves? Have you seen the wind? I've felt the fibers that can hold the wind of the Spirit. I've painted the encapsulated forms of His Presence, I've sailed through the lines of His movement and touched the colors of Heaven. I've found the resting place in His Heart and He has found His resting place in me - in the very process of this creativity He has given. My sails are so full.

In the spirit of knowing that my creativity is never only my own and that God makes us all to breathe together, I keep my awareness turned to others.... turned to awe-inspiring creativity all around me. I've soaked in the rhythmic form of a vase and wondered what that movement felt like as clay under the hands. I have discovered the beauty of the dance of raku colors and the blackness produced by the charring and wondered how that hot process spoke to the potter over the fire. I've seen the delicate natural forms of trees that have taken a hundred years to produce the most intricate patterns that come alive under the lathe of a woodturner. I've watched as my friend weaves new patterns and finds a new basket design almost daily and it is confirmed that God's mercies and goodness are new every morning - and that He weaves His newness into our lives daily. Community and togetherness is so vital to our creative lives.

After the river this morning, I came to the studio and began my morning devotional - my place of connection to God's heart that readies my heart for expression. I read Oswald Chamber's Utmost about steadying my heart and awareness on Jesus - and that when we do that, then, He will be our all in all. I want His all in all of me - His breath in every cavern - every fiber of my sails filled with wonder.

Almost daily, I search for inspiration from another creative: a painter, fiber artist, dancer, writer, musician, dramatist... on and on.  It is in their sharing and my soaking in of their unique creative message that I continually stay fused with creativity that is outside myself.... that is the opposite of self-awareness. The celebration that comes into my heart when I see another artist effectively translating beauty and wonder gives rhythm to my sailing. It helps me to feel part of the fleet.

So this morning, I landed on the TED video by Janet Echelman: Taking Imagination Seriously. (Watch below.) In the video she shares about her process of creating billowing, building-size fiber sculptures that literally transform the atmosphere. I was so in awe as I watched her forms move into the rhythms such as I have painted. She truly had created the ever-transforming visual shapes of the wind. Actually, she had only created a form that could capture it and reflect the wind. Isn't that what we are to do. Capture the movement of God and reflect it? Her sculptures appear to carry the movement of God. They are transforming the stagnant caverns inside people. At the end of her video she shares how the business-like people of a nearby building left their work and laid under her sky-filling billow, watching the effects of the movement change and transform. Surely their spirits shifted with the movement. 

May we be observant. May we have keen eyes to see the wind in the sails. 
May the growing imaginations inside me find their birthing moment. As Jane Echleman says at the end of her video, may we forever be "sharing the rediscovery of wonder."