Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Creative Writing - New Oil Painting

I first saw this painting in an antique mall a year ago and it spoke to me. But, being hard headed, I just didn't listen. However the other day I visited the antique shop again and this beauty was still there. I couldn't resist making an offer! This usually isn't my style of art...still there is just something about it.. perhaps it was simply meant to be mine! Why keep it waiting any longer.

I received a suggestion to write about this new painting I purchased as a self-care practice to bring out the artistic side of me I've been longing to be more in touch with in my life. Today, I took time at lunch to write: 

Vibrant, dimensions leaping from the flat surface and perfectly blending with the painted frame. Different lighting brings new colors to attention. In the fluorescent lights, the blue outlines of the table and around the guitar suddenly appear. The "heart" bumps up in it's texture, which makes me want to close my eyes and touch the canvas. Cracks in the oil bring a wise, old feeling to this modern expressionism jewel. With the lights off and showcased the a lamp's glow, the little apples, the frame around the "heart", the curtain and the guitar take center stage as though about to perform. The piece sings of relaxation and easy times spent in a special palce somewhere filled with music, spirits, and light, healthy food. The keyboard, showing that the instrument doesn't require perfection to be enjoyed, smoothly moves to frame the scene of letting your spirit enjoy before heading out through its heart's door... with the reminder to revisit and re-imagine any time you please. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Closing & Opening Chapters

University Peace Pole
That moment hit today. I was walking back from enjoying an annual event my department hosts and I began to tear up. Why? Well, in only four business days I'll be transitioning out of my current department into a new college to work as an EA to the dean. Of course, I'm super excited about this offer and move!! And yet, as I was walking back to the office today, the full realization that this chapter of my career was closing flooded me and I felt emotional. 

In 2013, I transferred to this job and that following weekend I began adoption certification classes. This was the job that supported me through adopting both my kids. These were the people who provided an adoption shower for me and my daughter, who gave me encouragement when adopting my son and gave a listening ear through it all! This department is where both my kids have visited their new Mama at work and caught a vision of what it would be like to go to college themselves.

So although it was tempting to stuff it all, as I walked back I instead let myself feel and remember. I let myself shed tears. In the next few days, I'll walk through the office and pray over people silently...those still at the department and those who will fill it after me. I do not want to shut down in the rush to the new job and miss the closing of this chapter of work. It's been a hard chapter and a good chapter. Sometimes we have to make the decision to let ourselves feel the turning page so that we can fully walk into new chapters.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Lectio Divina ~ Devine Reading

I’m reading Shauna Niequist’s new book, Present Over Perfect and have been looking at the practice of Lectio Divina. Ever heard of it? There is something about it that I find so beautiful… specifically cuddled in the thought of, as she wrote, “trying to reimagine my faith as a soft place.”(1) I want to carry a gentle faith, almost soft, yet with the full knowledge that my faith is protective. And I desire my faith to be beautifully well-balanced and not to just see faith as a motivator.

“I picture God’s heart, red and beautiful; I breathe deeply and try to imagine my faith as protection from this frantic, soulless way of living, instead of one of its motivators.”(2)  - Chapter “Daughter”(2) from Present over Perfect (1)

The following is paraphrased from Wikipedia - So in portions of the Christian faith, Lectio Divina (Latin for "Divine Reading") is the practice of scriptural reading, meditation and prayer intended to promote communion with God. Scripture is not studied in this practice but instead soaked in as the word, living and active. In a sense, the beloved glance at the verses with Christ. For example, in John 14:27 Jesus says, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you." An analytical approach would focus on the reason for the statement while in Lectio Divina, we would seek to rest inside this peace from Christ rather than "dissecting" it.

“Seek in reading and you will find in meditation; knock in prayer and it will be opened to you in contemplation — The four stages of Lectio Divina as taught by John of the Cross.”

Another way of viewing Lectio Divina has been likened to "feasting on the Word": first, the taking of a bite (lectio); then chewing on it (meditatio); savoring its essence (oratio) and, finally, "digesting" it and making it a part of the body (contemplatio). 

The Practice:

  • Lectio ("read")  “these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.” - 1 Corinthians 2:9–10. In Lectio, you relax into a calm and tranquil state of mind to prepare for full Lectio Divina. A stillness, as in Psalm 46:10: "Be still, and know that I am God,” while inviting the Holy Spirit to guide the reading of the Scripture. The biblical basis for the preparation goes back to 1 Corinthians 2:9–10 which emphasizes the role of the Holy Spirit in revealing the Word of God. Following the preparation, the first movement of Lectio Divina is a slow and gradual reading of the scriptural passage, perhaps a few times.

  • Meditatio ("meditate") Although Lectio Divina involves reading, it is less a practice of reading than one of listening to the inner message of the Scripture delivered through the Holy Spirit. Lectio Divina does not seek information or motivation, but communion with God. The second movement in Lectio Divina is meditating and pondering on the scriptural passage. The English word ponder comes from the Latin pondus which relates to the mental activity of weighing or considering. To ponder, the passage is held lightly, gently, and considered from various angles.
  • Oratio ("pray") In the Christian tradition, prayer is understood as dialogue with God, that is, as loving conversation with God who has invited us into an embrace about what you "savored" about the verse and God.
  • Contemplatio ("contemplate") Contemplation takes place in terms of silent prayer that expresses love for God through what the scripture and Spirit reveal and absorbing it into yourself deeply. In the 14th century, Richard Rolle expressed that contemplation as the path that leads the soul to union with God.

There are all kinds of videos on this practice but when I felt that they all seemed very strategic and  seemed too strict especially since this practice provided descriptions of a deep, gentle time with God. So instead, I'll leave this post with a video from David Steindle-Rast because I love his description of considering so many ways God expresses love.

Listening to God: What does it mean to listen to God? Brother David Steindl-Rast
explains that "God is so simple that he has only one thing to say: I love you."

Video also found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCqdoEF_Uus