Unfolding Beauty

The sooner we let go of holding on, the sooner we can hold on to the beauty of what’s unfolding before us. Nothing was ever meant to stay the same forever.

Julieanne O’Connor

And yet, I am a woman who deeply scorns change. I like to know what to expect.

Change can be troublesome, an unwelcome visitor. And in my experience, usually a surprise visitor at that.

No thank you. No soliciting here. I don’t want any change. I want to stay exactly the same.

I’m in a good season. I want my home life to stay like this. My marriage to stay at this level of connection and commitment. I am happy with my life. I am thriving in the routines I carefully set out for myself .

I want my children to stay where they are. I know what it means to parent them at these ages , right now. I don’t know what Ben will be like as a man. I don’t know what Elijah will be like as a driver. I don’t know what Josiah and Bella will be like as teenagers. Everyone please stay exactly as you are, thank you very much.

Let’s not change. Stay the same. Need me the exact amount you do right now.

But to refuse to change is to refuse to grow.

To resist their growing up is to resist them becoming fully alive to the people they were meant to be.

To resent my changing body, let’s face it … my aging body… is to let American Marketers win. If I am grumpy at each line that appears on my face , I am agreeing that Young and Thin is valuable and worthy , and that everything else is less than.

No ma’am. I have learned of the Japanese concept of Wabi Sabi. I first read of it in “Art and Faith” by Makoto Fujimura.

“Wabi sabi is an artistic sensitivity as much as an ephemeral feeling of beauty. It celebrates the passage of time and its sublime damages. In many art forms in Japan, this notion of prettiness through imperfection is present.”

Wabi Sabi encompasses the themes my brain has been wrapping around lately.

Change. Hope. Art. The passage of time. Well loved belongings.

Wabi Sabi is a slow, gently unfurling flower. As opposed to the mad, frantic, rushing train that I usually picture Change as.

This is comforting. And perhaps a bit more of a balanced way of viewing all that change and the passing of time encompasses.

Depths of Sorrow, Heights of Joy

“Art also reveals the “roar which lies on the other side of silence.” In other words, artists, by being sensitive to the world around them, also feel deeply the wounds and agony of life along with its explosive potential. To know an artist is to know both the depth of sorrows and the heights of joy. Therefore, we need to consider the arts as a way to value life’s mysterious details and as a way to train our senses to pay attention to the world. The discipline of the arts allows for this luxurious communing to take place in the deeper soils of all our lives. Artists are the conduits of life, articulating what all of us are surely sensing but may not have the capacity to express. But having said”

— Art and Faith: A Theology of Making by Makoto Fujimura

I beg your pardon…

As the great Lynn Anderson stated …

“ I beg your pardon
I never promised you a rose garden
Along with the sunshine
There’s gotta be a little rain some time
When you take you gotta give so live and let live
Or let go oh-whoa-whoa-whoa
I beg your pardon
I never promised you a rose garden.”

I hated this song as a kid . I had experienced first hand the devastating effects that the fallout of life’s storms can wreck in your life, and frankly, I found her pointing out there had to be rain a little redundant.

Even at 8, when I first heard the sound on a Classic Country station, I found the message too simple. I know now that the term for this is “reductive.”

Ms Lynn had a lovely voice, and it’s a sweet and sassy song. But it’s fairly patronizing.

What simpleton goes through life expecting it to be easy ? Certainly most of her audience were people , who having just lived through Vietnam were made decisively aware of just how precisely awful the “rain” can be.

And yet.

And yet, sometimes a twangy country song that’s almost 50 years old can speak louder to my jaded heart than anything else in the moment.

Sometimes it’s easy to deceive myself. Sometimes it’s easy to believe that because I have committed my life to Christ that things should be easier, better , safer.

It turns out I’m still looking for that rose garden.

I want peaceful easy days. I want unbroken hearts and uncomplicated relationships. I want my children to always be safe and well and happy. I want to always be this close to my husband and to be counted as his best friend. I want always to experience a church that is alive to the Holy Spirit. I want to be a positive force in my community. I want Americans, as a whole, to live and love and understand each other. I want to make good art and teach my children and inspire others. I want friendships where I am fully known and not misunderstood, and not in competition.

I want that rose garden.

When tragedy strikes, and my footing is shaky, I’m looking around in bewilderment. Why is that? Because I expect life to be pleasant and beautiful and if not easy then at least simple and carefree.

And yet, the one that I profess to follow told me that I would experience the opposite.

Who is the simpleton now?

“ 33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

I’ve already been wanted . Life isn’t going to be a rose garden. So why does it take me by surprise ?

Maybe I’m in need of reminders after all. Reminders like the song from Lynn Anderson,

Foxglove in the Summertime

“The beautiful parts of life don’t cancel out the hard parts of life.”

– Emily P. Freeman (on the HopeOligie Podcast from June 2015.)

On the heel of the most magical weekend , I received some sad news. In fact, I received in while in transit .

The grief is layered.

And , like so many things in life, it isn’t my story to tell.

Deeply rooted in my personality to get really quiet while processing. This is not in order to be caught or mysterious. But because at my core, I’m still processing.

But I’m still sad .

We contain multitudes.

And sometimes that means being deeply grieved over a loss of something that you didn’t know was yours to begin with.

And sometimes really beautiful moments can come spring forth from the darkness.

But sometimes the moments take longer than you like. And the unfurling is long, slow and painful.

And as much as we would like endless days of sunshine, we can breathe the beautiful of deeply right to the marrow of our bones even as we hold back the tears that so desperately need to fall.

Because as Emily P Freeman said , “The beautiful parts of life don’t cancel out the hard parts.”

Foxglove is a good reminder of these hard truths. Foxglove, beautiful and poisonous. Helpful and harmful.

We contain joy and grief, wonder and misery, hope and fear, pleasure and pain.

And it is still well with our souls.

Bending low

A peony bending near the ground

Humility is a sublime virtue
It can bend before the mighty wind
yet arise with courage.
it can bow before a powerful sovereign,
yet remain his equal.
It can be intimidated by the unjust,
yet not be humiliated.
It can be gentle before injury
yet have the strength to forgive.
humility brings the antidote to pride and arrogance and allows the openness to learn and accept!

– Celeste Hoeden

Mother’s Day Is On the Horizon

What better way to celebrate the Moms in our lives than with photos?

What better way to encapsulate our own mothering journey than a fun lifestyle photo session with our kids? Not posed and formal, but fun and relaxed, in order to capture our children as they really are.

Springtime is for the Makers

In my experience, when we surrender all to the greatest Artist, that Artist fills us with the Spirit and makes us even more. creative and aware of the greater reality all about us. By “giving up” our “art,” we are, paradoxically, made into true artists of the Kingdom. This is the paradox Blake was addressing. Unless we become makers in the image of the Maker, we labor in vain. Whether we are plumbers, garbage collectors, taxi drivers, or CEOs, we are called by the Great Artist to co-create. The Artist calls us little-‘a’ artists to co-create, to share in the “heavenly breaking in” to the broken earth.

-Makoto Fujimura, Art and Faith: A Theology of Making