The Foolishness of Creativity

When I was in elementary school I had a teacher who gave us the gifts of calligraphy and poetry. He wore a Mr. Rogers cardigan and wasn’t even one of our regular teachers, but for some reason we spent long portions of our days in his classroom where we learned how to put the nibs in our pens and hear the rhythm in a poem. He opened the world of goodness and truth and beauty to me, in thick books and papers dripped with India ink. He was such a fantastic man that I even bought him a Christmas gift.

Around this time I was inspired to send some of my poetry to a magazine, with a note assuring them there was “more where that came from” should they have a deficit of simple rhymes. I never heard back from them. 

But that’s not the painful part of this memory. 

Continue reading at Fathom Mag.

A Quiet Christmas

They say “beauty will save the world”, and I know it’s true. I know how beauty stands alone in the dark, in the quiet, and holds out hope for redemption to a world looking for a fix. I’ve held it while the world has slept on and spun round and out of control. I’ve held this kind of beauty in the palm of my hands, tiny and helpless and completely dependent on me. In the bend of my arm, the squeeze of my embrace, and in my lap as we crossed oceans and continents after our adoption, beauty that saves the world has been mine to hold.

Those first days at home are a special kind of quiet—not silence, necessarily, but permission to check-out of life, all the whirling world excusing your absence and even bringing you meals. I remember the first days with each baby and how tired, how depleted I was, yet how full. Life was a cycle of waking-feeding-changing-sleeping, and no one cared how the house fell apart. The dark of night or early morning covered some of the most tender times, as well as tears and frustration and great worries about tomorrow.

This is how Christmas feels to me. {Click here to read the rest of this essay at kindredmom.com.}

Take charge of your environment

I marvel at how connected my mood is to my surroundings and how quickly the slide down hill happens. I exaggerate and everything is terrible and out of order and falling apart, when there are really just a few things piled up on the counters and kitchen table. Put them away.

It takes all of ten minutes.

These past few weeks have been a whirl of not so much physical activity, but the kind of mental activity that renders you useless. Looming deadlines and change and important papers and lists of stuff to buy, all manageable and doable and reasonable, but weighted with everyone's emotions and schedules.

And so, the piles. The dust. The billion little items that need to make it back to their home.

Keeping house is constant. It's not just a weekly clean-up or wiping down the counters. It's continual upkeep and filing and shoving things in cupboards so I don't have to see them anymore, so I can deal with them later, so everything can appear outwardly calm. Sometimes you just have to keep the house above squalor for awhile so you can deal with other things.

Symptomatic. That's what my housekeeping is.

*****

I drove loved ones to the airport at 2:30 a.m. Friday, stopped for coffee and a mcmuffin on the way home, and crawled back into bed for fitful sleep and a side of indigestion. I do this to myself and then I complain about it, just like I put-off dealing with hard things and ignore the inevitable.

My eating may also be symptomatic.

I finally gave up the dream of sleep. I downed a quart of water. I looked around my disheveled home, grabbed a damp rag, and started polishing things. I put random items away, things I would normally leave for my children to deal with (because it's their stuff, their responsibility, their lesson to learn and if I do it for them, dangit, how will they ever learn?). I dealt with the piles and papers and dirty floors, and you can guess what happened to my mood.

I had already decided that Friday would not be a productive day due to the early airport trip, so anything I did felt like a triumph. That's a mental a game I play, beating my mood to the punch, and Friday it worked.

I often don't write if I'm in a bad mood because I want to say beautiful things that are true, but I don't think that's necessarily the way. I don't think it's wrong to remind you, and myself, that Jesus shows up in our bad mood and keeps saving us again and again. Not through a clean house or easy living; more through acknowledging our own fallenness and noticing that Jesus is here, still, anyway. He doesn't shy away. He's consistent in a way that I am not, as evidenced in my sporadic housekeeping.

Life is meant to be understood by the living of it, the folding and layering of scriptural truth with the hard-luck and bad-attitude surface of life. What helps in our bad moods is a foundational knowledge that our ultimate good is in His hands, and that usually, things aren't all that bad. We just get bogged down with the details and emotions of living.

Cleaning house didn't make the issues go away, but it certainly put me in a better frame of mind to deal with them more wisely. Funny, how tied I am to this physical world.

I am sure that there is no place in the world where your message would not be enhanced by your making the place (whether tiny or large, a hut or a palace) orderly, artistic and beautiful with some form of creativity, some form of 'art'. It goes without saying, too, that 'The Environment' which is you, should be an environment which speaks of the wonder of the Creator who made you. ~ Edith Schaeffer, The Hidden Art of Homemaking

There's not always time to clean house like we want. Bad moods are not always solved with a swipe of the cloth or swish of the broom. But today, if you're stuck because of weather or sickness or attitude or any other minor circumstance, just try tidying up a corner. Turn on some music. Light a candle. Find some outside to bring inside: branches, twigs, flowers, moss, whatever you have available. Make your environment—the one that is your space and the one that is you—into something reflective of Christ.