Adventures AWAKE

A pithy little blog encouraging creative adventures of the Christian spirit

Space, flame, transformation…and marshmallows July 7, 2010

It’s camping season. Maybe that’s why when I saw this poem on a friend’s blog, it seemed right to swipe it. That and maybe the fact that, as my husband says, “we Piersons don’t camp…we golf.” It has left me somewhat longing for those growing-up days when my family would load our backpacks for a trek into the Rocky Mountain wilderness. Ahhh nature. After a few days on the trail — clothes caked with dirt, fish slime, and the smell of hours by the campfire — we’d find our way back home. One of my favorite memories is still sparked with the whiff of an open campfire. Hence, the pull toward Judy Brown’s  poem, Fire:
What makes a fire burn
is space between the logs,
a breathing space.
Too much of a good thing,
too many logs
packed in too tight
can douse the flames
almost as surely
as a pail of water.

So building fires
requires attention
to the spaces in between,
as much as to the wood.

When we are able to build
open spaces
in the same way
we have learned
to pile on logs,
then we come to see how
it is fuel, and the absence of fuel
together, that make fire possible.

We only need to lay a log
lightly from time to time. 
A fire
grows
simply because the space is there,
with openings
in which the flame
that knows just how it wants to burn
can find its way.

(San M. Intrator and Megan Scribner, Editors, Teaching with Fire: Poetry that Sustains the Courage to Teach. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003, p,89.) 


Nature. It gives me breathing space. And, in that space is the breath of God. Why too often it takes me getting out of the house to remember that, I’ll never know. This poem floods my senses with all the goodness of God’s creation right outside my door and, more importantly, reminds me of the Divine purpose for space — creating and maintaining it —  in my life with Him. His air and raw material combine in careful balance to create energy, warmth and reaction. Without building empty space into a fire’s structure — the careful placement of each timber and twig — nothing catches. The flame dies.

As long as you’re along for this mental hike, let’s take another step: The prose also begs me to cozy into the fiery embers of the space between. I imagine myself a marshmallow within those spaces — being changed into a treat to be savored. I am transformed by my time in what’s set apart. While in life I don’t relish the refinement of fiery trials, I actually prefer my marshmallows a tad singed.  The open fire somehow develops the flavor into a toasty, charred-wood sweetness that is unmatched by any other heat source. So, what am I doing to position myself for change?

Fires are built-in anticipation of their function; sometimes we build them for heat, cooking, atmosphere…marshmallow roasting. Whatever the purpose, it is only when we draw near its glow that we — as marshmallows or those in need of warmth — are changed.

Want an adventure? Build a fire. Think about your life’s construction; its space and flame (or the lack of either). What gives you “breathing space”?  Think about what you can do to stoke your fire for God. Most likely, the result will ignite things and draw others close. Make some space to think about fire as it relates to God’s essence, holiness, refinement, and the activity of the Holy Spirit. Meditate on  John 21:7-19. What did the campfire add to the story?

Space and flame in all you’re called to~

 

Crisis March 16, 2010

“A crisis is a terrible thing to waste”

~ Dick Clark, CEO/Merck Manufacturing

Want an adventure? Pray in a new way: With a friend, on your face, in a journal, outside, out loud, using promises of Scripture, in silence, in a song. Here’s a thought: Ask God how. (I’ve been doing that a lot around here, lately). Then, share  your experience — good, bad or indifferent — with someone. It will encourage your prayer life and theirs!

Ephesians 6:13-18 (The Message)     Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

 

Smudged souls March 13, 2010

I saw a lot of beautiful people in India. Physically, just beautiful. Dark-eyed, exotic, bright-smiled beauty. But I couldn’t help noticing all the babies with — what looked like — big birthmarks on their sweet faces. At last it occured to me that I might ask.

One of my gracious hosts explained to me that parents often smudge their children so the gods will not think they’re beautiful and want to steal them.

Don’t all parents think their children are beautiful? Certainly, Father God does. Shouldn’t we all walk around with smudges on our faces?

What saddens me is that most of us don’t walk around with an awareness of our beauty — the glory of Christ — but, instead, a profound awareness of the ugliness within. We spend days reflecting upon the smudges (scars, really) on our souls; the tax of sin waged by the enemy of our Father. We want to hide the mark Christ has made on us before the world.

Want an adventure? Look in the mirror of God’s word for your beauty today. (Check out Psalm 149:4, Ephesians 2:10, 2 Corinthians 4:18). Get lost in His love for you. Stare his beauty in the face. Get the image of your face smudged with His unconditional love and Fatherly pride. Think of how He wants to empower your pretty soul to attract others. We are marked by Him for His glory.

 

The-500-Year-Question December 23, 2009

 

The year is quickly coming to a close. (Once again, the season finds me wondering HOW it is upon me so fast). And this morning as I read an excerpt from Refractions by Makoto Fujimura, I had to pause.

If life seems to speed up as we tally years, if my life is a blip on the radar of history, if I hope to be more than a “blink” of goodness in my time on earth, the greatest gift I could offer would be a means of transcending the dash of this season. As this sense of time flies at me, it seems right to ponder a gift which will make life — your’s and mine — richer, fuller, more engaging, and a bigger blessing to the “close others” in our lives. Beginning now.

It occurs to me that the best gift I could give comes in the form of a question I tripped over in what I read this morning. The question is one Makoto recalled as he stepped back, breathtaken, from the beautiful painting, Madonna and Child, at the Met’s 2005 exhibit of Fra Angelico. It  is “The 500 Year Question,” according to Fujimura.

“What is the five-hundred-year question? Well, it’s a long-term, historical look at the reality of our cultures that asks, What ideas, what art, what vision in our current culture has the capacity to affect  humanity for more than five hundred years? It’s the opposite of the Warholian ‘fifteen minutes of fame.’ It’s also a question I raise to my teenagers, whose cutlure celebrates immediate gratification, also seeking after ‘fifteen minutes of fame.’ If our decisions matter and make ripple effects in the world, then should we not weigh what we say and do in light of the five-hundred-year question?…If Fra Angelico were alive today, he would have a hard time being apprenticed or finding anyone to teach him his craft, let alone joining an order. The church is not the first place a creative genius would look to be trained in art. That statement alone reveals how much Christians have abdicated our responsibility to steward culture…In short, we are all staggering about, or should be…those who have eyes to see. That is precisely how we should react to Fra Angelico and the five-hundred-year question. We stagger because we have lost even our ability to ask that question.”

I get sucked into the drivel of our culture…heck, of my calendar. And I, too, have teenagers. The slick, fine and beautiful garner the most attention, too many days (that and the scandalous trainwrecks outlined on the nightly news, in tabloids and entertainment “journalism”). But what can I say and do — TODAY — that has the capacity to affect humanity in 2509? Afterall, Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has planted eternity in our hearts.” When we live for less, we undoubtedly find ourselves yearning for more. Purpose. We change history by how we live now. 

Though this may sound like more of a new year’s wish than a Christmas gift, I place it directly beneath the branches of your glorious tannenbaum. For I find no greater occasion to consider what has been given to us than what will truly last well-beyond when our overstuffed trashbags and overfilled stomaches are again empty. This Christmas, I humbly invite you to a Renaissance of spirit. To a creche turned Kingdom. To a silent, peaceful, revolution of heart. May it carry us both world-changingly forward — ever toward God’s creative heart.

Merry Christmas all year through…

Want an adventure? The question is it. Spend the last week of this year considering how to spend each day in the its shadow…

 

Not far from the tree August 10, 2009

acornTo be an acorn is to have a taste for being an oak tree

~ Thomas Merton

 

Want an adventure? Think like an acorn. (Yep. That’s a little nutty). What is it you have a taste to become? Ask God to shape your life for the end you are living toward.

 

Nothing is really something July 31, 2009

statue_of_liberty needle artNeedle-eye sculpture

 

My friend, Ellen, sent me this link. Talk about individual creativity!

Abraham was promised his descendants would number more than every one in the sea… (Genesis 32:12)

God’s precious thoughts toward each of us outnumber them… (Psalm 139:17-18)

…and this incredibly focused artist, Willard Wigan, sculpts them. Get this: We’re talking about grains of sand!

 

Follow the link above (the one under the picture) and watch the ABC News story of what this talented man has taught himself to do. It is incredible. It is painstaking. And, it is worth a LOT of money because of its uniqueness. (Did you hear the part about painting with a hair plucked from the back of a housefly?) Recounting how he started doing this form of sculpture, Wigan explains how his teachers made him “feel small…like nothing,” so his goal became to prove “that nothing doesn’t exist”.

In watching this footage a few thoughts gnawed at me:

  • How inestimably precious each of us is to God — our Creator. 
  • It is hard to get my brain around Willard’s work let alone God’s! He shapes us on an even more intricate, quantum level — involving body, spirit and experience).
  • How painstakingly He designed every detail of my form and experience. (Rarely do I consider what God is going through as I struggle to be His vision of who he created me to be.)
  • The driving force behind Willard Wigan seems to be a woundedness yet — by sharing from this place — his wounds have created great earthly gain.

I pray Mr. Wigans has embraced his extraordinary value and purpose in the eyes and at the hands of his Creator. What an amazing gift!

 

Want an adventure? Read Psalm 139:14-18. Meditate on God’s perfect plan in your unique design. Looking at your life, how do you notice Him gently scraping and sculpting you? Dwell on the Truth that you are precious, prized and loved with purpose. Bask in that today. You are really something!

 

 

 

Knock, knock! July 23, 2009

Who’s there?

God.

God who?

 

Want an adventure? Finish the punchline. 

John 17:13
“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.”