The window above is from the Shafer Baillie Mansion and the window below is from the Conservatory in Volunteer Park (this photo is turned on its side and then duplicated in mirror image to create a mandala). I walk by both of these lovely buildings almost every time I go for a walk in my neighborhood and I have never before taken photos of the windows, never really noticed their beauty. For some reason on this particular morning their shapes intrigued me, inviting me into reflection and playing with new perspectives. I am feeling drawn to get some photo coloring pens and highlight the patterns with colors.
I am drinking in this time to create. I am hungry for so much: to write, to take photos, to play with pastels and paint, to experiment with lettering, to carve stamps, to get back to some mosaics. I wonder that it has taken me so many years to fully embrace this calling in my life. I have been active as a writer since I was at least eight years old and an artist probably longer as all children are. I have nurtured this in myself and for many years my work has been to encourage this awareness in others as well, but there is a new depth in my sense of calling and what it means to live out of it. I am learning to trust the impulses that emerge from a place deep within that longs for beauty and revels in the wonder of the world. I delight in the unfolding lifelong journey that continues to offer me new things in each moment I choose to pay attention. I continue to grow and stretch into the fullness of who I am.
It connected for me in part when I read this at Jen Lemen’s blog this morning, she is talking about the struggles of being an artist:
Why is this so hard? Why do we struggle to imagine that we are living breathing treasures, fully able to fan the flames of hope and beauty everywhere we go? You could wait for some sign that now is the time, or you could take that craving you have to dive headlong into kindness, passion and creativity as all the proof anyone could ever ask for.
Can we can allow our creative passions to become windows to God, invitations to look more closely than we have before, to notice things that have gone unseen, to lift up beauty in acts of exultation? Advent invites us into these noticings, calling us to listen closely in the dark for new voices, demands that we tend to the vulnerable tiny shoots sprouting deep within. A child of God born in a manger is not what people were expecting.
Where is God being born around and within you in ways you had not expected? What if you took seriously your own desires for beauty and expression as enough of a reason to act on them?
-Christine Valters Paintner