Friday, November 12, 2010

The language of transformation

This morning I picked up a book that had been in storage for several years, and quickly remembered why it was one of the voices that shaped my thinking and ricocheted me into a journey different than the one I had imagined.

In his preface to Christ of the Indian Road, E. Stanly Jones wrote: "I do not make a special drive upon you because you are the neediest people of our race, but because you are a member of our race. I am convinced that the only kind of a world worth having is a world patterned after the mind and spirit of Jesus. I am therefore making a drive upon the world as it is, in behalf of the world as it ought to be, and as you are a part of that world, I come to you."

There is plenty of conversation today about the relationship, or lack thereof, between what was Christendom and the movement that Jesus initiated. I will not add to that here.

For most of thirty years Europe has been my primary life focus, and I must admit that living in Paris was wonderful. But my reason for being there had little to do with the remnants of the institution and everything to do with this same idea: that the revolutionary ideas of Jesus, originating not in the West nor in economic or political discussions, show us glimpses of the world as it ought to be, and invite us into it as a reality breaking into what we live right now.

Is that the language of idealists, or of artists? It is certainly a perspective that moves us away from judging and imposing, towards listening and inviting, discovering and celebrating.

In every place, no matter where we are, Christ finds us on our road. He wants to make us human again.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The coolest thing

I just returned from a week in Paris visiting La Fonderie. Seeing friends and co-workers, meeting new artists in the space we opened, hearing about their dreams and projects, their successes and challenges. It is always inspiring to be with creative people.

Speaking about new technology that promises to erase the line between television and computer, Google is quoted in Newsweek (Oct 17 2010) as saying: “The coolest thing about Google TV is that we don’t even know what the coolest thing about it will be.”

No matter what one might think about Google, a corporation like others financially motivated to get people to use their services, that statement expresses a kind of vision that leaves the horizon open for those who would like to explore it and even move it.

It is a vision that invites people in, and challenges them to innovate and create. To imagine.

It is the kind of invitation that I try to give to those around me. Because there are endless possibilities for those who are open to the idea that we don’t yet know what the defining moment or body of work or mark of our lives will be.

That describes, at least in part, an artistic journey and a creative life.

What will you create today?

Monday, October 4, 2010

A clearing in the forest

My favorite songwriter/poet tells me to write the piece first, then let the title emerge. Okay, I will try that. But couldn’t help attempting to visualize this place in my journey with some image that was not urban, since there is nothing urban around me.

Reading this morning in Devotional Classics, seeking some profound thoughts to help me start my day, I was puzzled by a selection dealing with affections as the spring of action. It is just that affections, somehow tied to the emotions, do not lately seem to have figured significantly in my process. I am trying to find the next right thing. The next action to take. There is an unlimited supply of ideas and possibilities.

I have been more focused on strategy and plans, and spiritual and artistic visions. Creative stuff. Starting stuff. It is not sure that I have been listening closely.

This morning the phrase jumped from the page and stuck in my head: “…do not be stubborn any longer.” Not the inspirational word that I was seeking.

Actually, I have complained that I am tired of waiting, and wondered why God was stubbornly withholding from me.

Odd to be outed in this way. “Do not be stubborn any longer.”

As if it is my heart that needs to relent, not his. As if he were already at work, already extraordinarily generous, inviting me into the new things that he is doing, and the things that he wants me to dream and do.

Ok, I see. And I think the title works fine.

What are you seeing today?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hidden from view

Tonight I ran to a super-discount store to buy some boots with steel toes. It is not surprising that the road of my transition would lead me to say yes to work which is as far from what I have known as imaginable.

If certain that this was a short detour, perhaps I would be thinking differently. But moving as I have from the stage to offstage has left me a bit exhausted. For the sake of my youngest son, that weakest one in the family, for now I have essentially stepped out of leadership and left the visionary roles that I had played for nearly two decades.

It is not that I am trying to be dramatic. I am only now realizing that I cannot live this time as a transition. This is where I am to live my faith and put into practice what I have believed about following Jesus. Having chosen, I no longer have choice.

Today I found an excuse to leave the house. Otherwise I would have been inside with Michael, away from the world, for 52 hours straight. But who is counting?

I answered email, communicated via skype with France and Russia, wrote five letters (thus the trip to the post office which broke the cabin fever). My mind was on people and creative projects in New York, Paris, St. Petersburg, L.A., Miami, Austin, Chattanooga and Jackson. And tomorrow will be spent in a friend's factory in my new boots.

This is a curious school in which I find myself.
The illusion wanes, and in time we return
to our noisy cities where the blue
appears only in fragments
high up among the towering shapes.
Then rain leaching the earth.
Tedious, winter burdens the roofs,
and light is a miser, the soul bitter.
Yet, one day through an open gate,
among the green luxuriance of a yard,
the yellow lemons fire
and the heart melts,
and golden songs pour
into the breast
from the raised cornets of the sun.

from "The Lemon Trees"
by Eugenio Montale
(Translated by Lee Gerlach)