Thursday, July 8, 2010
I have had several requests from readers to share more of my journey with "The Artist Way" book and group I am participating in. I really had no preconcieved ideas of where the process would take me but I know that I felt a great excitement and anticipation. So I thought it would be a wonderful extension of the process for me to share with you some of the highlights along the way!
The two mainstays of the "Artist Way" process are the morning pages and the artist date. There is something quite magical about rising early each morning to write three full "morning pages" of unedited "brain dump" (as I affectionately like to refer to it). I feel like I have stolen time when I am quietly engaged while the world still sleeps and the sun is barely beginning to rise! The act of making sacred space to write again has been healthy food for my soul. I couldn't imagine I would have enough to keep writing...and writing...and still writing...but it appears much has been stored up and waiting for just such an opportunity! There is a cathartic release that happens when all that you are mulling over, worried about, need to do, wish you could do, are having feelings about, need answers for, praying for, dreaming about etc...is spilled honestly out onto the pages. Then when you close the book, its all safely held and you are free start your day. There is a lightness and a clearer view of the details around me. I know my concerns, questions, hopes and visions have been recorded and I have asked God to enter into the pages and give me insight and wisdom. Writing these pages every day frees, releases and keeps in a safe place all that attempts to distract and weigh us down. It announces our awareness of our present situation and the hopes for future resolution. It can always be revisited. But for now our inner world has been given voice so it can rest and let us focus on new surprises. It places the heart in a state of readiness to hear the whispers of God throughout the rest of the day.
This week was another exercise in opening my eyes, ears and heart to the unspoken stories that exist all around me. Its easy to get lost in routine and not "really see" or take the time to slow down, notice and experience these revelations. Taking myself out on the weekly "Artist Date" has begun to expand the space within myself where God and I have long and intimate conversations. Its been like discovering new things about an old friend. I have begun to crave carving out these little spaces of time to nurture my senses and invite new experiences. They create an expanse internally where creativity begins to bubble up in unexpected ways.
Synchronicity is such a beautiful mystery. For this week's artist date I decided to head down to the river at the crack of dawn. My son had told me about a little spot just down the road from our home. The truth is I had never explored what was right in front of me for all the years I have lived here. I gathered my journal, a chair and blanket and made my way through a small trail, cimbed over some well-traveled rocks and stepped onto a little space to sit by river. I was a little dissapointed at first as it was scattered with bottles and pieces of trash and the smell of my perfume drove a little band of mosquitos into a frenzy around me. But what took my breath away was the little handmade sign. Overlooking the river, as if to call out to anyone who would listen, someone seemed to be crying out for significance. Stuck into the ground was a stick that had a small ripped piece of paper pierced through it and the simple, handwritten words, "I'm Here". I quietly went about cleaning up the little space and pondering what was behind the messege. It was so simple yet incredibly deep and profound. I wondered about the story behind the words. Who had sat at the world's edge, where land spills into the rivers and announced their presence? Was it a silent whisper in the night that was asking, "Does anyone know I exist?". Was the person alone or maybe alone in a crowd? Did they carry a burden? Was it a messege written from the heart of one searching for God? Or was it an announcement proclaiming with confidence that someone "had arrived". I couldn't help but sense it was touching on the deepest need we all have to be known, to be heard, to have value and be valued by others...to not be invisible. As the possibilites of the origin of the words danced in my imagination, the words on the sign suddenly shifted in meaning. I felt God's presence as He whispered an assurance back to the one who secretly offered the little sign....and to all those who wonder if God is there and sees them calling out at the river's edge...He gently said, "I am Here".
I continued my journey and traveled down the old historic Evergreen Highway that parallels our modern, four-lane Highway 14. I had never taken this road out East before even though I had lived in this area for almost 25 years.I was ten minutes from my everyday existance and well-traveled community yet felt I had entered another little world that has been unchartered. It struck me what creatures of habit we can become and what we might miss that is right in our midst. What would happen if were we are willing to go right when we usually go left? What if we risked getting lost for just a little bit? When you enter in new places you are forced to open your eyes and really survey your surroundings. Comfort and familiarity can cause blindness. Our well worn paths can stunt our growth. Different roads can be incredibly encouraging and hopeful....and expansive. The drive can turn out to be just beautiful.
As I passed a speed sign "25 MPH", I became aware of the rushing sound of traffic up the hill to the left. There it was.... the main highway I had traveled for years and yet this old road I was slowing driving this sunny morning had been right here all along. But you had to slow down to be on this road. You couldn't be in a hurry to get where you were going if you went this way. The pavement was worn and cracked here and there. It was quiet and you could stop in the middle of the road if you wanted to head over to the roadside to pick a few wildflowers that sprung up in unexpected places. As I watched the cars rush by off in the distance, I was so grateful for this little road. I was excited to see where it would take me. What a delight when I realized where I was....and the road eventually spilled out into the heart of the sweet little jewel known as Downtown Camas.
Even though it was so early in the morning I had hopes one of my favorite little spots in this little historic town would be open. The friendly door was ajar and I was greeted warmly by the owners. I settled into "Natalias" for a wonderful breakfast, nibbled on sourdough toast with raspberry perserves and sipped hot tea. It all felt so sweetly indulgent. There was much to reflect on and prepare to share with my "Artist Way" group. By the way... A trip to Camas is never complete without strolling through the aisles of Camas Antiques. There is enough eye-candy in there to stimulate your creativity for days!
I sat next to this sweet little girl for awhile before heading home. She was perched near a beautiful sitting area surrounded by beds of colorful flowers. Her hand poised open. She was peering ata treasure in her hand that it appeared only she could see. Even though from my perspective it looked like nothing was there...she knew there was. She was lost in the delight of discovery. Thats what this artist date had felt like to me in the end. I hadn't traveled very far or probably done anything others might consider "amazing". My journey was simple. My discovery wasn't visible to those around me...but the gift was in the shift in my perspective. The new road opened up thoughts, ideas and creative visions and contributed to an ongoing internal creative expansion. It invited me close to my Creator. It also was simply... just good for the heart and soul. I opened my hand and couldn't hold all that had come back to me!