Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Tuesday, February 07, 2017 - 1 comment

Leave to Live: First Fruits of the Season

"It is a grand thing to get leave to live."  
- Nan Shepherd, Scottish poet

These words - a message from heaven on a five-pound note - were my invitation into the season of sabbatical I'm in now.  They carried with them a whiff of freedom, permission - no, a charge - to dream without boundaries, and a beckoning to come test the limits of "life more abundantly."    

As I've settled into my temporary Scottish home (has it really been a week and a half already?), I've taken these words to heart. They've guided how I spend my hours and my days.  There is a vastness in them, but also an urgency - the sense that this time is a gift and I need to really get down to the business of living

They've led me on romps and rambles, up into the green hills and down the windswept coastal paths.  They've taken me into the depths and dark places in my heart, where lies and hindrances to life are exposed and uprooted and I get to taste the glory of true freedom.  And they've called me to create.

So much of this time is about re-connecting with (or discovering for the first time) who I am and how I was designed.  Unearthing the “me” that comes to the surface when the weights of fear and over-responsibility are removed and the dust of heart-crushing lies blown off and I’m able to see - and delight in - the good that was deposited in me as I was knit together in my mother’s womb that I’m meant to share with the world.  

And - surprise, surprise - so much of that has to do with creating.  

One of the words I got before moving to Turkey was that I was going “for the display of His splendour.”  That there is a unique facet of my Father’s personality, character and beauty that I’m meant to be showcasing and reflecting and shining a light on.  That word still burns in my heart, but it hadn’t seen the light of day in a good while.   It was high time I pull it out again and give it the place it deserves - in my heart and in my day planner.  (Yes, I still use a day planner.  Long live paper!)  If m1n1stry is “the best of what He’s poured into me being poured out into other people”, I need to make cultivating that “best” a high priority.  And for me, a big chunk of that means creating.

It’s always the things we were actually created to do - the ones that shine the best of Him through the best of us - that are so relentlessly and insidiously opposed.  This season is about fighting back.

It’s a season where I’ve been given not just permission but a mandate to give space and weight and honour to my creative giftings and to develop them - not for the sake of producing anything, but for the sake of joy.  For the sake of coming alive.  It’s a time to run headlong after those things I always think I’ll do “when I have more time” - the ones that get relegated to the bottom of my never-ending to-do list because they don’t seem “urgent”, but are actually the ones that would infuse life into all the other parts of my life if I’d let them.  The ones that allow me to uniquely display His splendour.

All that to say, I’ve been doing a whole lot of “creating” since I got here.  I’ve vowed that I’ll create (at least) one thing every day.  Taking photos and logging writing hours and getting down some of the stories that have been percolating inside me for months are an obvious part of that.  But I really wanted to find something else I could do - something more tangible and immediate and hands-on - that I could pursue during this time to really get my creative juices flowing on a daily basis.  

Half on a whim, I bought a book on creative lettering and had it shipped here so it was waiting when I arrived.  I can’t draw worth squat.  (Remember that grade 6 report card comment from my art teacher?  “Great improvement from last year.  She now draws her people with necks.”)  But what I CAN do is doodle letters.  And it turns out that’s a thing.  Incidentally, a very marketable thing.  But also just plain fun.  It's something I'd love to get good at.  But for now I'm just enjoying the freedom to play.  And this book has turned out to be one of my favourite companions on this sabbatical journey.

There’s so much pleasure in hand-lettering for me.  I’m loving playing with fonts and strokes and learning about things like “filigree” and “serif” and “drop caps.”  It’s been a great way to document some of the words being deposited in my heart during this season, and to get them on the wall where I can see them and be shaped by them.

So....here are some of the first fruits of this creative season...

This one makes me laugh cuz it conjures up images of some 
1970s orange juice container...but still, I kinda like it.  :)


Thank you for this firmly rooted, delicate blossom which whispered me toward rest.

These words are like stones carefully set in the path which leads to life. Your voice rings with a kind freedom and designation that is contagious… and your creations, whether written or drawn, swing like a sharpened sword in the hands of a determined warrior.

May your return to the circumstances which drove you here.. be with ears to hear and eyes to see life when it appears like death.