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~

 

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.

 

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.”

 

A New Song? July 20, 2009

Ok, I’m too cheap to bump up to the WordPress level which allows video embedding but take a minute to check out these  two videos and then come back to my blog:

Axis of AwesomeAxis of Awesome 4 chords http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpB_40hYjXU

Pachabel Rant

Rob Paravonian’s Pachebel Rant http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdxkVQy7QLM#watch-main-area

 

What could my point possibly be? Should we be discouraged by this? — maddened? — how about Inspired.

If you saw my first, ever blog post you know that 1) I love all things creative, and 2) I whole-heartedly (as opposed to in a patronizing way) believe everyone is their own version of creative. I still do. From the marketplace, I learned that I am only as good as my last big idea…so what does that make God? I’d say really, really, REALLY Good at every idea ever conceived or yet to be conceived! Good on an eternal scale. The Good-est. As it should be…

Having attended two art schools and worked with the creative geniuses pent up in several advertising agencies, I have learned one of the basic creedos of creativity: “There is nothing new under the sun”. Funny that should come from the Bible. Every creative idea is a variation on a theme, a twist on a cosmic truth, a juxtaposition of judgements. Not just in art, not just in music, not just in writing, or business or public speaking — EVERY creative idea. However clever the concept, in a very real way, creativity is the ultimate greening of our culture — it is recycled! This means there is unlimited fodder for us to work with everyday.

In an almost manic way, Ecclesiastes 1 says “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say,  “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time” (verses 9-10).

So, should I give up and open a creative vein? No!

Specifically relevant to musical creativity, the Psalms repeatedly speak of “singing a new song” to God. Interesting that each time these songs come up they give credit where it is due — recounting His victory and glory in the earth. God is the Great Creator — the commanding Strategist, Conservator of earth’s collection, the ultimate Original. On our best days, we just copy His work. He is the One who answers prayers with ideas. And — no — they aren’t new to Him but when we drill down to acknowledge their source, our unique expressions are a “new song” we can humbly lift to highlight His ongoing presence through the creative ages.

That kind of thinking lifts burdens, brings joyful expectation, and calls out the fun of why we are here!

 

Want an adventure? Think back to your last creative idea. What was it? What did it accomplish? Did you think about the Source of your idea? However big or small it was, sing Him a new song of praise for loaning you the creativity. Next time you are looking for a “big idea,” brainstorm with God…and keep singing.

 

Walking home July 14, 2009

God is at home. It is we who have gone out for a walk

~Meister Eckhart

 

Walking woods

Want an adventure?  Go for a walk and take God along. Be present really present — to what He has created along your route. He is in your breath and in the breeze. Let Him choose the path. Contemplate the person He has created you to be — being careful to focus on Him (His plan for you) as you do. Ask and listen. This is not about physical fitness but about spiritual soundness. Walk with Him and He will show you your way home.

Psalm 84:3-5  

Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young—a place near your altar, O LORD Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. Selah. Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.

 

Dirt about dirt July 6, 2009

Apparently, my mind is in need of a science day. The difference between dirt and earth has caught my interest. Hard to believe, I know. This is the unsanitized truth of where my blog ideas come from. But I digress…It has occurred to me that there is a difference between the dirt on my carpet and terra firma. But what is it exactly? I had to explore. Quickly, I learned that the most fertile topsoil extends down only a foot or so (unless you live here in Colorado where clay meets you at about 1-1/2″). And, while soil contains rock particles it is far more than that; soil contains life — as it is and as it breaks down.dirt and shovelThe dirt about dirt:

  • Plants and animals live on the surface — their topsoil homeland is the ground you and I walk on. One purpose of plants is to keep the soil from drying out (see desert). Just like a giant compost pile, on this level organic matter (plants and animals) die, decompose and feed new life.
  • The layer just below topsoil is where most of the “plant food” is found. A plant will try to seek its roots deeply into this section in order to enjoy all it can. As water soaks into the earth, this is likely where it settles with the rich mineral deposits and clay found here.
  • Deeper still all that can be found are rock particles and minerals. On this level there is still some subjectivity to the elements. In fact it may have found its way here as the result of a glacier or other type of erosion. But don’t be mistaken, at this level absolutely nothing organic grows.
  • And then there is bedrock. This stuff is solid. Before anything above it, this rock was here — set in place as the foundation. Yes, it can be weathered to the surface over time or jolted up by some seismic shift  but it is solid.

As mentioned above,  the layer just below the topsoil is a place into which the mightiest cypress trees yearn to sink their roots. It is in the densest most nutrient and water rich section. From here, the behemoths will not easily be uprooted. Spiritually speaking, this is where I want my roots to take.

And, this is my most fascinating find — or should I say, ephiphany: Beyond the deepest place I can grow, there is a layer of earth where nothing can. It is a great unknown. A layer of rock and minerals which can only be revealed over time, seasons and erosion. It is a mysterious void just before the bedrock. Intriguing. Learning from the famous passage in Luke 8:4-15, I guess the layer between the subsoil and bedrock never made my seismic radar.

Somewhere in God’s grand scheme, He built in mystery. We are not intended to reach our roots into that place — we don’t get all access, all answers, source. I know it isn’t a new analogy, but think about that. The bedrock is solid. While our roots can sink deep into the soil of God, we can never breakdown the rock of His foundation. That means there is an intentional space which will always leave us in wonder and awe. Faith is required here. Deeper, exceedingly immovable and more glorious than the Grand Canyon at sunset, He is the one, indestructable, true solid — omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent.

 

The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd. ~ Hebrews 11:1-2 (The Message)

 

Want an adventure? Dig deep inside. Where are your roots? What level of soil have you penetrated in the Spirit? Are you hungry/thirsty for what is deeper? If so, ask God what needs to happen to get there. Spend some time here. Growth requires it. Now, think about the mystery — the great gap between what you and I can comprehend and the bedrock of who He is and what He promises us. Sink your roots into that. FAITH! AWESOME WONDER! That we may GROW in Him!