Throwback Sundays…Nothing…and Everything

 

“Mooch and Earl just stayed still and enjoyed nothing…and everything.”

I don’t know…there is just something sweet about that…the ability to sit with someone or a group of people and enjoying nothing and everything all at the same time. I am incredibly blessed to have people I get to do that with here in Nashville. And most weekends, that’s how I spend my time…savoring life…being still with friends I love enjoying nothing…and everything. For that and for them, I am grateful.

It was true then & it’s still true now. Friends with whom you can enjoy nothing…and everything are an absolute gift. And spending time with them is what weekends are made for.

From “A Letter to Artists”

As someone who values & appreciates art, who believes art & beauty can be significant in a journey of faith, I’m often looking for meaningful thoughts & writing on the such things. I took some time to read Pope John Paul’s letter to artists recently & wanted to share a couple of my favorite parts.

“…I intend to follow the path of the fruitful dialogue between the Church and artists which has gone on unbroken through two thousand years of history, and which still, at the threshold of the Third Millennium, offers rich promise for the future.”

“Those who perceive in themselves this kind of divine spark which is the artistic vocation—as poet, writer, sculptor, architect, musician, actor and so on—feel at the same time the obligation not to waste this talent but to develop it, in order to put it at the service of their neighbour and of humanity as a whole.”

“Artists who are conscious of all this know too that they must labour without allowing themselves to be driven by the search for empty glory or the craving for cheap popularity, and still less by the calculation of some possible profit for themselves.”

“Every genuine art form in its own way is a path to the inmost reality of man and of the world. It is therefore a wholly valid approach to the realm of faith, which gives human experience its ultimate meaning. That is why the Gospel fullness of truth was bound from the beginning to stir the interest of artists, who by their very nature are alert to every “epiphany” of the inner beauty of things.”

“The ‘beautiful’ was thus wedded to the ‘true’, so that through art too souls might be lifted up from the world of the senses to the eternal.”

“Even when they explore the darkest depths of the soul or the most unsettling aspects of evil, artists give voice in a way to the universal desire for redemption.”

“Art has a unique capacity to take one or other facet of the message and translate it into colours, shapes and sounds which nourish the intuition of those who look or listen. It does so without emptying the message itself of its transcendent value and its aura of mystery.”

“What an impoverishment it would be for art to abandon the inexhaustible mine of the Gospel!”

“I appeal especially to you, Christian artists: I wish to remind each of you that, beyond functional considerations, the close alliance that has always existed between the Gospel and art means that you are invited to use your creative intuition to enter into the heart of the mystery of the Incarnate God and at the same time into the mystery of man.”

Beauty is a key to the mystery and a call to transcendence. It is an invitation to savour life and to dream of the future. That is why the beauty of created things can never fully satisfy. It stirs that hidden nostalgia for God which a lover of beauty like Saint Augustine could express in incomparable terms: ‘Late have I loved you, beauty so old and so new: late have I loved you!’.”

If you have an interest in art & beauty & faith, I encourage you to take a few minutes to read the letter in it’s entirety!!

In the meantime, any thoughts on the excerpts above? 

Learning to Tango

Oftentimes life is more of a tango than a tightrope act. It’s more about learning to dance in an ever evolving rhythm than mastering the art of balance. I’ve been learning to dance the tango between strength & courage lately. It’s not always a pretty sight…I may trip over my own two feet quite often. But still, I’m learning.

Strength isn’t something I’ve often felt in need of. Growing up in a family that was keen on strength rather than expressing emotion, as well as my life journey helped me learn to be strong to survive…or at least that’s what I’ve always thought I needed to be. We also live in a world that says strong is better…strong as in always smiling, not admitting weakness…surely not admitting brokenness…and protecting yourself rather than being vulnerable.

But here’s the thing…strength is of the mind, while courage is of the heart. And sometimes I need my heart to temper my mind…to keep me soft…help me be compassionate…allow me to love others.

I’m beginning to believe that there is such as thing as too strong. And courage bridles strength.

When I’m too strong I become cold. I like to put up walls…tall, thick, castle-worthy walls. I used to think that by doing so I was keeping other people out, but I’ve realized I’m really only keeping myself in.

When I’m too strong, I’m not fully living. But courage…courage gives me life. 

It allows me to feel. Yes, to feel the pain along with the joy. But I’d rather feel both than neither. Courage gives me the ability to offer grace. To be compassionate. And to risk loving others deeply even if it may mean hurt & disappointment.

With courage I am alive to life. I see beauty all around me in every moment of every day. With courage I am able to say, “God is good…all.the.time.” Yes, life may hurt & I may be broken, but He is still good.

Courage is strength that is able to admit weakness…that can embrace brokenness because it knows that weakness is not the same as defeat. It knows that there is uncanny beauty in surrender. That though it may never make sense to our human minds, even surrender takes strength.

These days, I am learning to love…to let my heart love as Christ loves. To truly love others no matter they may or may not give back. To love in spite of the risk of hurt…of disappointment. And through doing so, I’m learning courage. Because the act of loving softens our hearts and teaches us courage, but the act of loving also requires courage…requires our hearts.

It’s an intense tango between strength & courage. But it’s a dance worth learning, because together they make a fiercely beautiful pair. 

Saturdays are for Laughter

Do you ever have those days where it seems nothing goes as planned? But in the end you couldn’t have planned a better day anyway? And all you can do is laugh.

Laugh at the fact that you thought you had a day under control.
Laugh because His plans are always better.
Laugh because you can picture Him up there just laughing at the plan you had.
Laugh at the adventure that is life.
Laugh because you get to enjoy it with some incredibly wonderful friends.
Simply laugh. 

This past Saturday was one of those days. Workaholic is my default mode. I have to be super intentional about not falling into that because it burns me out pretty quickly. But it can be quite a fight sometimes. Saturday was one of those days I woke up in work mode. I really wanted to just grab my computer & hide in a coffee shop for the day. But, I had plans with a friend for a day full of fall fun, so work was going to have to wait.

We had an entire day planned. Researched, mapped out, timed out…the perfect plan for a fall fun day. But of course very little went as planned…which is exactly what made it perfect in the end anyway.

Running late. Flat tire. Surprise photo shoot. I was completely thrown off. Thankfully, I was with a dear friend who lovingly reminds me that sometimes we just have to step back & laugh at all of it. 

By the end of the day we had…enjoyed a delicious picnic on a vineyard hillside soaking up the autumn afternoon sun & beautiful fall landscape…learned how to change a flat tire…cleaned up a major sugar spill…caught a beautiful sunset over the Tennessee hills…planned, shopped for, & cooked a delicious unplanned dinner with friends complete with homemade Whiskey Caramel Sauce…watched the Rangers lose terribly in game 3 of the World series…sung & danced our way through the decades thanks to Spotify…witnessed a memorable rendition of a Backstreet Boys performance…done more singing – for hours…& laughed till our faces hurt. It was the perfect nothing goes as planned day.

Did you find laughter in your Saturday? 

Throwback Sundays…In the Mundane

“We don’t miss God because He’s far away, rather we miss Him because He’s so close.” How often I needed to be reminded of that. Reminded that God is in the details just as much as He is the big picture. That He’s ordering my steps & writing the story of my journey.

So, here’s to seeing God in the details
in every human interaction
in the sunset
in the rain
in the song that comes up on shuffle
in the encouraging text from a friend
in the mundane
in the routine
yes, He’s much bigger than all of those things
but He’s in them nonetheless
and when I pause long enough
I see indescribable beauty in “everyday” life

Do you miss God in the details?