52 Weeks: Art Journal Project (learn more here: http://journal52.com/about/)

52 WEEKS: ART JOURNAL PROJECT COVER

 

Week 1

When comes the soul-loosening breath?

Freedom’s flight — landing where I may?

Sans trust, life requires labor, a spreading of wings

Before entering the dream

Of up, up, and away . . .

S.Blood 1.19.14


Week 2

With gratitude to J.R.R. Tolkien and Pippin’s performance in The Two Towers 

let the journey begin . . . 


Week 3 — Guess Who Makes Me Smile?


Week 4 — Character comes from . . . 

Find your grey. Live there. Be happy.

     
    There’s a difference between failing at something and being broken. Failing just means you try again; or not, depending on what you have learned from the failure. Broken means something else entirely. There is a hole that needs to be filled, or a chasm that needs to be bridged, a fence mended, a mountain leveled or a stream bed cleared.
      Broken means inward attention. Something needs to stem the bleeding, or open a window to let in some fresh air and sunshine.
     Broken means a hell of a lot more work, frankly.
     Starting with first realizing that there was a break to begin with. So many people can’t see clearly enough the chips or cracks in their own personal vessels. They’re quick enough to point out the flaws in other people’s vessels.
      It’s a tricky thing, this clearing of the sight long enough to see what the breakage in self might be. Linger too long, and your vision narrows. The outer world fades away, and you are caught in blackened rooms, the smoldering wreckage of self-pity. Poor me! you cry out – the world is so unfair.
     That narrowed focus remains only on you and sadly makes the fixing practically impossible. Remember! While a break is rarely the doing of a single entity, the fixing of the break frequently stays entirely in your own hands, regardless of who helped create the crack or the chip.
     If you are tired of your spirit seeping out through the cracks and chips, of the trapdoor opening again and again, plunging you repeatedly down to experiences you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy, then you need to keep the vision wide. See the whole picture. You are just a piece of a bigger puzzle – no matter how big your vessel feels to you.
     At best, the realization of broken places allows you to step back, take stock, look ahead and heal. At worst, you stay stuck.
     Sticking is not a place many  want to be. Most folks want to move ahead. Most folks realize that the cracks, the chips, the flaws in their vessel are part and parcel of their individual natures. If we were all perfect glazed porcelain what a boring world it would be . . . and here’s the thing about boring.
     You might think boring means safe, but it so rarely does . . . mostly it means there is a place for wickedness to come in and make mischief. To relieve the boredom.
     People are a mad lot. They need a challenge, a quest, a goal. Something to strive for, to aim at, to attain. If there isn’t something readily accessible, they create one.
     But their creation stories tend to leave something to be desired. Their stories are slanted towards too much filth, cowardice and despair – or towards too much glory, pure intentions, and wholesomeness.
     Where is the balance between light and dark? Good and evil? Joy and despair? Where are the shades in between white and black? And who does not hold those shades in his or her individual hands?
     Find your grey. Live there. Be happy.

PLEASE TAKE NOTE

Chores, limits, and clear expectations for behavior give children the chance to practice valuable skills and grow into competent, responsible adults who know that they are worthwhile and valuable.

Children that do not get these chances build internal messages of worthlessness and uselessness.

When parents stand firm on chores, limits, and behaviors, there can be conflict. All parents and children experience conflict to some degree – it’s natural.

What it means is that the parent loves the child enough to sit with the short-term discomfort of conflict for the positive long-term result:
a child growing into a competent, responsible, happy adult.

Some Things That Are Valued and Adhered To In This Home

Chores
Doing chores teaches life skills, work ethics, and time-management. It gives people a sense of usefulness, belonging, and importance.

Honesty
Being truthful about what you think, feel, do, or plan to do is critical to happy, healthy relationships.

Reliability
Doing what you say you will do – following through – helps people trust each other and succeed in meeting goals and reaching dreams.

School
Learning is life-long. Graduating from high school and continuing on to the Peace Corps, trade school, college, or military is also key in meeting goals.

Church
Being a part of a faith community gives lots of chances to practice skills, build relationships, and form internal beliefs about how we fit in this world.

Community Service
Caring for the people and places that form the community we live in help us feel connected and follow through on what is important to us by making a difference.

Advent Meditation Assignment for Church

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians  4:4-7

I am not easy with the word gentleness. Gentle people are often run over by those less gentle. However, I delight in gently nurturing babies. They have simple needs and wants. Gently nurturing babies is safe. Gently nurturing adults is frequently tricky, sticky, messy, and can feel rather unsafe. Babies reflect back only what they see in the eyes of the nurturer. As adults, we have learned to hide our inner core. We tend to show only what will get our needs or wants met with the least resistance.

In looking at other biblical translations of gentleness, I found many words: moderation, reasonableness, kindness, forbearance, and in the Greek, leniency. Interestingly, the Greek translation also uses the word garrisoning rather than guard in the final sentence of the verse. Those two words grabbed hold, saying, “Pay attention!” They challenged me to rethink the verse’s possible meanings.

I don’t think I am so very different from my Christ-siblings. I think we all tend to protect our inner cores out of fear of the unknown or from past experience. When we do that, we often hold at arm’s length with words or actions our equally frightened sisters and brothers. We stay separate from each other. While we defend our tender places, we focus inward. We are not gently attentive to each other in ways that are forbearing or kind. And we have little understanding that the sister or brother across from us is working just as hard as we are to care for her or his tender place as well.

Perhaps, this passage calls us to be a bit more “lenient” with each other’s fears and evasions, as we learn to live in community – with our families, our friends, our coworkers, and our church family. Perhaps it also reminds us to rely more on God to “garrison” those parts of us that really do need protecting. Perhaps practicing these two ideas — leniency and God-garrisoning – could move us worriers and fear-filled Christ-siblings more firmly into that peace which passes all understanding.

So, I think I’ll sit with the idea that God will garrison whatever tender part I believe I need protected, if I just ask with thankfulness — and try to give my brothers and sisters in Christ a bit more leeway to be fully human, too.

******************************
Mother-God, you hold us close to your breast and wrap your angel wings tight around us no matter how old we grow. Help us to honestly share the peace and love you so freely give to us with each other, through a kind word, a gentle touch, a listening ear, a helping hand or a hug. Amen.

Capture the Rainbow

 

Do you suppose he’s looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?

Or thinking about something much more esoteric?

At 15 1/2, he’s a constant wonder to me.

On the one hand, a mystery. On the other, he shares more about what he’s thinking and feeling than he has in a long time.

I imagine him standing in his life rather like he is in this picture: poised on the brink of launching into his adult world. There’s still some room in his pack for a few more tools, words of love and advice from mom and dad — but he’s filling his pack on his own merits more and more now.

Words can’t describe how proud I am of his growth, of the person he is now, and the person he is growing into — still a miracle, still a blessing, still a rascal, still a challenge, still my baby — no matter how grown.

Where Beauty Grows

Rock gardens are fascinating — particularly wild rock gardens.

The discovery of vivid color and delicate scents within rocky creches pleases me no-end on day hikes.

This treasure was found as Nathan and I scrambled up the Comet Falls trail in Mt. Rainier in early August. He was practicing for his upcoming big hike, and like a billy goat bounded up and over rocks despite the twenty pounds or so on his back, returning every so often to help his slower-going mother over a particularly big stepping stone.

And patiently waiting for me to “oooh” and “ahhh” and otherwise exclaim over and admire the unfolding beauty of this glorious world we live in.

Hopefully, he hasn’t caught on yet to how some of that admiration is built-in R&R time . . . *grin*

Keeping up with the young man on the trail is getting tough!

But, ohhh — so worth it!

Letting go. Yeah, whatever.

My son has left for three days of wilderness backpacking and hiking with an inter-generational church group. This makes me, shall we say, slightly anxious.

Let me clarify.

The people don’t make me anxious. They are individually and collectively wonderful, and Nathan has known near all of ’em for most of his life, some more than others. They are skilled professionals, with lots of experience and years hiking. My son doing this without either Greg or me being there is what makes me anxious.

I’m not sure this degree of anxiety was a parenting requirement. No matter how excited the kid is by his getting to do this. Nor how disappointed he might have been if I had said, “Sorry, m’boyo — you just have to wait until next year when dad can go, too. Mom can’t handle the worry.”

Letting go is clearly not one of my strengths. Greg and I will meet him at the end of the trail in Holden Village on Tuesday. My thinking brain knows he has what he needs, and what he chose to not take will provide some valuable learning for him (i.e., the pad for underneath the sleeping bag . . . *sigh* . . . )

The rest of me is worrying: Will he remember to take his meds? Will he be warm enough at night? Will he take it easy and stay hydrated? Will he practice good trail etiquette and be safe? Will he ask for help if he needs it?

*Sigh*

Well, my little prayer mantra for during this time:

Father in Heaven
Through this day
While he hikes and while he plays
Keep him safe from every harm
Keep him safe within Your arms.

Amen.

If I say that enough, like a Buddhist chant, it ought to help ease some of the anxiety.

Yes?