Feeling God's Pleasure · Losing Your Mind · Pleasure of Creating · Spiritual Places · Touching Transcendence

A Retreat For Christian Creatives

As a Christian artist/writer, I often don’t give myself time to pursue what feeds and restores my spirit. It’s tough to justify the total focus my latest project demands when other, seemingly more pressing issues, demand my attention.

But when I’m creative, I feel God’s pleasure. Why do I have to justify (even to myself) the time I spend in His presence?

During my last prayer retreat at the Benedictine Monastery, God spoke to me to begin a retreat for Christians who practice creative expression. You can be an artist or crafter, jewelry maker or woodworker, composer or a dancer, in other words, anyone who feels the need to make time to create.

Paper Roses from old hymnal pages
Paper Roses from old hymnal pages

He gave me the name: BlueWind Retreats. “Blue” to represent creative work, and “Wind” for the Holy Spirit who glorifies Jesus and breathes life into our expression.

I will offer workshops on imagination and creativity, including a Scriptural basis for our creative gifts. My friend Ben Beck, a fellow artist passionate about Christians in the arts and director of SansMOCO Art Gallery in Greenville, PA, will help host and teach a workshop. There will be time to work on your art or craft and share if you like.

Our focus will always be, not on the artist within, but on The Artist Within: Jesus, in Whom and through Whom all things are created.

If you are interested, I talk about this more on my website.  Here’s a link for more information and a downloadable brochure. My first retreat is in April 2015.

I covet your prayer for this new venture. I believe God is in it. It’s time for God’s people to have confidence in their creative gifts and in His power to use them.

Power Of Symbols · Uncategorized

Why I Am Not Saying “Je Suis Charlie”

I cannot say “Je Suis Charlie.” This is not meant to be mean spirited or disrespectful. By not saying it, I am paying utmost respect to my fellow writers and artists who paid for their calling with their lives.

All I can do is stand humbled by the thought, “What would I do?” What would I do in the face of a threat on my life because of what I believed? Would I have the courage of those writers, editors, publishers and cartoonists?

Think about what you're saying with this serious meme.
What are we really saying with this serious meme?

“Je Suis Charlie” is a great sentiment, sincerely held and believed. Right now it’s comforting many people and helping them feel strong in the face of this horrific crime. I know how important that is in the face of such personal, professional, and national tragedy. Serious memes like this or others like “Boston Strong” capture our imagination and unite us.

But for me, this is a time of reflection. Do I have that kind of courage? Would I stand strong in the face of such an existential threat?

Honestly, I don’t know. So far, I have not had to make that choice: my art or my life. I’ve not had to make an even more important choice of Jesus or my life.

I will respect my God given gifts–and the memory of my fellow artists–by challenging myself to aspire to the highest reaches of my art.

Feeling God's Pleasure · Pleasure of Creating · Spiritual Places

Flash Mobs: Surprised By Joy

I love the Flash Mobs who surprise by joy, often with spontaneous (or planned) explosions of public music and dance.

There are lots of variations. “Flash mobs” share (at least in the videos I’ve seen) in train stations, hospital lobbies, outdoor parks, or shopping malls. One performer arrives, sets up, and begins to play, sing, or dance. Bit-by-bit, they are joined by other artists (or interested parties) who enter into the work. Dancers move to prerecorded music by the supergroup ABBA or Rodgers and Hammerstein. Vocalists sing Handel’s Messiah; musicians play Ravel or Tchaikovsky. (Check the links for examples.) A videographer catches the faces of the spectators, whose looks range from wariness, to pleasant surprise, to total engrossment and pleasure, even outbursts of joy.

But I want to reflect on what I see in the musicians and dancers in Flash Mobs:

Flash Mob Adam Kliczek/Wikipedia, CC-BY-SA-3.0
Flash Mob
Adam Kliczek/Wikipedia, CC-BY-SA-3.0

1)  For the most part they betray no self-consciousness, seemingly losing themselves in the moment. They’re focused on the transcendent goal of joining together for the love of their art and audience. Or they are just enjoying a spontaneous moment of fun with friends or strangers.

2)  The element of surprise is an important part of the moment. The performers have the joy of creating it and the audience of receiving it. Or perhaps the participants have surprised themselves by a new breath of courage.

3) The artists embrace newness. The musicians must get used to a new venue and acoustics that demand a different focus. The dancers must dance on dirt or dust, not on a real floor. All accept and go with it, incorporating it into the moment.

Flash Mobs: Seems to be much I can absorb for a new day.

What do you see?