About Me

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I now live in Victoria, after a couple years on the North Shore of Vancouver, and a (too) brief time in the prairies. Working as an artist, mother and wife (not necessarily in that order), i am striving to live well, to find the truth of God in all things, and to pass on this truth to others.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

crustacean and creation

I am sitting at my kitchen table with sun on my back.  the window beside me is open a crack, just enough for a sniff of freshness and the enchanting sound of our creek babbling away.  it feels like spring.  it looks like spring - crocus are popping up to my delight all over the yard - but I will not be fooled.  yesterday we nearly drowned in torrential cold rain and last week there was actually snow (!!!), so i will embrace this day as a miracle and expect nothing more.  this is how my mother encourages me to live - keep the expectations low so as to minimize disappointment.  i usually find this life-orientation depressing,  i would much rather live in anticipatory excitement (naive though it may be), but sometimes it's necessary.  March in BC is not a time for getting your hopes up.

and on that sad note, we have as of yet not located Curious, the lost hermit crab.  i think my children have moved on though.  my daughter has been researching turtles and my son informed us that his pet of choice is a lobster.  sorry?  yes, a lobster.  here's a dinner conversation you wish you had been at:

"i wish i had two lobsters, like my friend at school"
       "your friend has two lobsters?!"
"yes, they're his pets.  and i wish i had two lobsters as pets because then if there was someone being a bully at school i would just run home and get them out of their tank and run back to school and then they would snap the bully and then he would stop".
       "your friend has two lobsters?!"

this is what i imagine occurred at this "friends" house.  dad comes home with two lobsters "look what someone gave me for that job i did for them" (this would have had to be the dad, no way the mom would fall for such a scheme), mom says "wow....?".  they research how to cook them and fish out the stock pot from the crawl space and get the water boiling and are just about to put them in when the mom says "i hear they scream" and then the "friend", who has just come into the kitchen with a lego problem, says "what?!  they scream!  you can't kill them mom!!  i want them as pets!" and the mom and the dad are that type of mom and dad that don't ever want to disappoint.  so they put the lobsters in the bathtub and go to the pet store and spend hundred of dollars on a salt water tank and every time mom walks in the friends room she wants to swear.

we will not be purchasing lobsters as pets.  even if they are anti-bullying ones.

this week i had the honour of being the chapel speaker at Langley Christian High School.  i was asked to share about my identity as an artist, and what it has taught me about God and myself. i will sign off by including a snippit of what i shared.  it was a great experience for me. it seems whenever i speak to a group of people i am struck with two things:  i love public speaking, and i learn so much when i prepare a talk. maybe i'm not learning new information, but i'm solidifying some understanding, either about God or myself.

I spent a lot of time in my presentation talking about my struggle with accepting that i actually am an artist. later in the day i was told that a teacher, after hearing me speak, decided that he was going to start painting again, and i instantly teared up with excitement and gratitude.  how silly that i so quickly recognize and celebrate artistry in others, but downplay it in myself.  silly silly girl.  here's what i said (although in person i ad-lib with bits of silliness).

when I create something I am echoing the work of my Creator.  sometimes it’s difficult to label sitting down at my easel, with a movie playing on my laptop and a cup of tea beside me,  pushing paint around a stretched piece of cloth, as work.   recently I read this quote, which really encouraged me,
“many of us equate difficulty with virtue – and art with fooling around.  hard work is good.  a terrible job must be building our moral fiber.  something – a talent for painting, say – that comes to us easily and seems compatible with us must be some sort of cheap trick, not to be taken seriously.  on the one hand, we give lip service to the notion that God wants us to be happy, joyous, and free.  On the other, we secretly think that God wants us to be broke if we are going to be so decadent as to want to be artists. do we have any proof at all for those ideas about God?
Looking at God’s creation, it is pretty clear that the creator [himself] did not know when to stop.  there is not one pink flower, or even fifty pink flowers, but hundreds.  snowflakes, of course, are the ultimate exercise in sheer creative glee.  no two alike.  this creator looks suspiciously like someone who just might send us support for our creative ventures.” (Cameron "the Artists Way")

the God we worship as Christians is a God of extravagant beauty.  He’s a God who is unceasingly creating,  boundlessly creative, and lavish to his creations.

my tagline on my website is “create beautiful”.  I heard a quote years ago from Dosteovsky:  “beauty will save the world”, and on some levels I believe that it is true.  because God is in all that is beautiful, and it is His desire to make all things beautiful, redeemed and holy. 
 I read this sentence recently: “the world is more delicious than it needs to be”, it’s also more fragrant, more melodious, more colourful.  God creates because of the sheer delight he takes in creating, and He wants us to delight in it too.  Food could have been tasteless fuel, colour just shades of grey, no singing, or dancing.  the arts are not necessary to the survival of a species, but they are essential to the enjoyment of life.   art in all its forms is a gift of love.  it’s also the Creator wanting His Creations to know Him, to look at a flower and think “wow.  God must deeply love me to create this just for me to enjoy”.

my hope is that one of my paintings, hanging in someone’s home or in a board room or school hallway, will incrementally change the space it’s in, from something utilitarian, or sterile, or boring, to something refreshing and encouraging and lovely.  a little echo of God on the wall.
sometimes I annoy myself with how I paint flowers.  what’s the point of a flower?  I look at other artists who create works for social impact, to fight injustice, to expose darkness, and I think, why am I painting flowers?  who cares?!

I was in one of these self-condemning moods recently, and I happened to read the sermon on the mount - the greatest sermon preached by the greatest preacher, the smartest and most creative human being of all time -  and I realized that he talks about flowers.  “consider flowers” he says.  “how they don’t work, they don’t sew, they don’t purchase, but they’re dressed better than any human being, because God dresses them.  so don’t worry about what you’re going to wear, God will clothe you”.  He was speaking to people from every social class, but I bet the bulk of them were poor, and lived with an undercurrent of worry.  Jesus looks at them in their distress, knowing the weight of worry on their lives, and his words for spiritual, social and economic impact were “look at flowers”.

so I do.  I consider flowers.  I look at them deeply.  I revel in their intricacies.  their colour and shape.  from bud to flower to seed head – they’re so incredibly beautiful.  I consider how their needs are met.  how utterly dependant they are.    how they live in the rhythm of the seasons, and they reproduce themselves through dying, and gain more lustre through painful pruning.  there’s a lot to learn from a flower. 
don't you just want to hear more?  sorry folks, you'll have to track down a high school student, who probably has forgotten me already. (insert debbie downer weh-wah sound here).

i must be off to make some gluten-free dairy-free cornbread, a.k.a. to create something beautiful.  i hope you find your Creator in your creating this week, and are not attacked by crustaceans.

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