Creative Juiciness

It was the morning of the art workshop I had signed up for at the Women’s Centre. My goodness! I have not picked up a paintbrush in years! How on earth will I fare???

So, I quietened myself down, and brought it before my Creator. “Well, Lord, anything You want to tell me about today?”

The reply came immediately.

“Play!”

I laughed and headed off to meet my tutor, British artist, Katz Cowley! What a gorgeous girl! The soul of inspiration and encouragement! To the sweet and laughing Katz, everything was “yummy”! So you can imagine how yummy we all felt at the end of a day marinating in our own creative juices.

She got us to paint according to our senses: based on the music we heard, the birds’ feathers we gazed at, the spices we sniffed, the secret something that we palpated inside a brown paper bag, and the tart and tantalizing lollies we rolled around on our tongues.

Katz had such a rich repertoire of artistic techniques that we reveled in PLAYING like children. It was a day for forgetting our roles and responsibilities as wives, mothers, and career women, and dabbling, instead, in various colors and media, splashing in the refreshing pool of new ideas.

Do you know how wondrous it is to try your hand at something you’ve never done before?

I have to confess that, in the past, this would have been a worrisome task. Being a compulsive perfectionist, I would have driven myself to be the BEST in the group, to outdo everyone else and win the kudos of my tutor. But this time, I made a simple and pivotal decision. I decided NOT to look at what anyone else was doing or how anyone else was faring. Why give myself a reason to feel envious or triumphant at another’s expense? I intuitively knew that, once I started sneaking a peek into the creative endeavors of my classmates, all of my own creative genius would shrivel up…because I would not be creating; I would be competing.

So, I gave myself to the task MINDFULLY, consciously, joyously. I flowed with what I was doing, even forced myself NOT to play safe…to scratch deep dark gouges of red oil pastel over my nice, neat, perfect, little etchings. It was very freeing!

Katz kept reminding us not to take things so seriously…this was our chance to experiment, she urged. It wasn’t easy fighting years of programming to “Do it once, do it right!” But, I kept telling myself, “Now’s your chance! You have this day to do things differently, to cut loose, and let your inner imp have full rein! PLAY!!!

And you know what?

I did!

And it was incredibly, blissfully Yummylicious!!! 🙂

Hello world!

“The place where God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” – Frederick Buechner

For over a decade now, I’ve wrestled with the questions, “What is my purpose? What was I put on earth to do? What is my calling? My vocation? Are my purpose and calling related to a job? What if I lose that job or never get it? Will I have lost my calling/failed in my purpose?”

Even the issue of one’s “passion” was thorny for me. I grew to hate the word because I didn’t know what I was passionate about! I mean I loved many things: reading, learning, writing, teaching, etc., but I seemed to love them all to the same degree. Nothing stood out for me the way championing non-violence stood out for Gandhi or campaigning for social justice and civil rights did for Martin Luther King.

I thought a passion would be all-consuming, a raging lust for some worthwhile cause. But nothing so noble overtook my imagination. Consequently, my confidence drooped, slumped over, and expired. How can one not even know what one was passionate about, I kicked myself. How can one not know what one wants???

Then one night, as I lay in bed pondering the same old questions, begging God to show me what the dickens my purpose was, I got into a right howler of an argument with Him.

Can’t you see that I am willing to do whatever it is You put me on earth to do…if only I knew what it was??? Why do I have to read Your mind? Why don’t You just tell me, for heaven’s sake? Why must you make it so hard????

Then a thought trickled into my angry brain…like a drop of perspiration slowly snaking its way down my chest. And that thought said, “I may not know what my grand purpose is or how I can change the world on a massive scale. But every day, when the opportunity presents itself and my eyes are open to See, I CAN make a positive difference.” I can encourage my child instead of railing at her. I can make my husband a delicious cup of coffee even when I feel like throttling him for being too busy for me. I can write an email that can give a despairing friend a boost. I can contribute to a micro-enterprise fund so that a woman in the Third World can start up a small enterprise and support her family. I can offer to have a child over so that her mom, a single parent, can have some precious time to herself. I can offer to read to the blind.

In other words, I can craft a string of pearls from individual good deeds – instead of despising the small pearls I encounter while striving to discover the pearl of great price! And in so doing, I make choices that define me.

The world’s deep hunger might wear a global face, but it might also be the face of my neighbor. When I see what is needed, and I choose gladly to give what is in my hand – be it my time, my talent, or my treasure – I choose to believe I am fulfilling my purpose. I am stepping up to the plate…taking responsibility for what is before me, instead of waiting for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to give big! In a sense, I am giving big…just in little ways.