Sunday, December 7, 2014

God can flow like paint on paper throughout each moment of our lives

So, the big, heavy, tattered-and-duct-taped-together monster of a box that holds our well-worn artificial Christmas tree waits to be dragged across tile and carpet to its traditional spot in front of our living room window.  It took both Danny and me together, a team effort, to wrest it from the garage and into the house after mass last night, and now the box sits like a stubborn child, arms crossed and weight dropped low, as if to say,  “Helloooo…I’m waiting, Sally.  You are going to put me up, right?”  And it’s not that I am such a procrastinator, but truly and unfortunately I must be in the “mood” to do almost everything.  Art, dishes, laundry, writing, baking, everything but reading and praying.  So “the box” is calling my name but right at the moment, it is just going to have to wait.  The mood will come soon, I am confident of that, but probably not until later this afternoon, probably not until my prince husband comes galloping down the stairs after his nap and hoists the thing onto his shoulder or scoots the thing across the floor through the kitchen and onto the rug.  Then, he will open the box and remove the branches, piling them loosely into groups according to length, and I will attach them to their tree “trunk,” feather them into something that resembles a real tree, and then let the trimming begin!  With the proper mood in full swing, I will become a whirlwind of Christmas cheer and will enjoy every moment of it.

It’s a good thing, for my sake, that God is not confined in a duct-taped box, waiting around for me to get into the mood to place him in “his spot” front and center in my life.  It is a good and wonderful thing that his Holy Spirit cannot be confined in a box, in our imaginations, in words, within a scheduled time, or kept in anything worldly at all.  Whether I am “in the mood” or not makes no difference to God.  Ready or not, here he comes this Advent.  I have found this to be his way.  When he has a lesson to teach me, a moment to share with me, or an inspiration to bless me with, he does it, right then and there.  Often I am very slow to understand it at the time, but somehow I come to the meaning, like when I am painting.  Applying water to paper before I paint, I watch the clean liquid sink into the cotton rag, until the glaze almost disappears.  Then pigment added wet-on-wet spreads, flows all over the page.  I tilt the board up and down, left and right, and watch the paint run wherever it will until it pleases me, until it settles in, paper accepting it as a partner. 

This Christmas, celebrate the beginning of joy that will never end.  Celebrate that God is not confined in any way, in box of our own making or of anyone else’s, and can flow like paint on paper throughout each moment of our lives.  Oh, and do open the boxes in your life that need to be addressed, when you get in the mood, that is.        

Sunday, November 30, 2014

"through the Cottage Door"

‘Tis the first Sunday of Advent 2014.  Just can’t believe it is upon us here at the Cottage Door Studio.  Seems like Thankgiving came and went faster than the blink of an artist’s eye and here we are in December.  I would love to spend some time starting new paintings, or rethinking and revising a collection of rejects (which I lovingly and stubbornly call “works in progress”), but my daytime job as director of curriculum and the busy holiday task schedule demand attention.  I could get flustered and exasperated if I don’t get enough rest right now, so I have made the choice to feel successful each day if I just walk into the studio, pick up a brush and dip it into water and paint, then apply a stroke or two on paper before I go to bed. Somehow that little commitment allays the fear that I will “lose my touch” or my commitment to my passion, painting.

How about you?  How do you balance the need to paint (or to do whatever form your passion takes) with other parts of your life during this busy season ?  I’d love to hear from you, especially if  you are an artist or a writer, and need blocks of quiet alone time to pursue those gifts.  And, of course, though I no longer have small children underfoot, I clearly recall a time when I did.  Being a wife, mother, grandmother, sister, or significant other is a calling we take seriously, don’t we?  How do we sustain those relationships, our prayer-life, housework, etc. and also challenge ourselves  to produce beautiful and successful paintings?

So, that is today’s topic “through the Cottage Door” as I invite you inside my studio, on at least a weekly basis, to explore various art-related (or not) ideas, share thoughts, or just comfort and challenge each other in our world as artists and people.

I hope you will fix youself a nice mug of hot cocoa (lots of marshmallows), Chai tea or coffee, put your feet up for a few, and just read, think, maybe pray, and often respond.  Why, you ask?  Because I love most of all to paint people, and if you and I exchange thoughts, you will help me learn more about myself and about the  people in the world around me.  All the better to paint them authentically, My Dear.

‘Til next time, then, Happy Advent from Elizabeth.