Saturday was a complete and utter gift. It was our third Art & Prayer Workshop, and although I'm no longer surprised in the ways Jesus often shows up and works in our lives during this experience, it's always a surprise to see where and how he works.
Feeling a bit in the groove of the timing of the day (and no longer feeling the neurotic need to keep checking the time to make sure we're "right on it," whatever that even meant) I was able to sink into the experiential space, to process my own feelings surfacing through this visual and Scriptural process.
Sitting on the pebbled front porch of the home we met in, with my Prismacolor markers and a technicolor rainbow pencil, over and over I heard with great comfort: "Trust the process." It's a message close to my heart these past years, and in this moment it not only applied to the process I was facilitating for those who attended the workshop, but also in my own life. As I sat with it a deeper meaning emerged.
I'm invited to trust the process not only in the workshop, in my journey with Jesus -- but in the details, too. Trust the process in my health, in my finances, in my vocation. Trust the process. Just show up, and let Jesus do his thing. It's not a recipe for success, but a relinquishment of the control I fool myself into thinking I have. I can't guarantee the outcome, I can only respond to the invitation. And that's a really uncomfortable thought for me. I love control. It tastes and feels so good at times. But there's no adventure, no risk, no freedom ... no life in security and control.
I walk from this workshop with a beautiful reminder to trust, to go out, to speak forth ... and watch what happens. Like a seed underground, I can only plant it there. I cannot make it grow. I can participate, but I cannot control.
Jesus, have mercy.
Church for me is a tender subject, so my reflection is perhaps more personal today. However, I will still try to follow the advice of Nadia Bolz Weber and speak from my scars and not my wounds. For me, church has represented a lifetime of hurt-filled and disappointing experiences, so while parts are still healing, others healed long ago. It is from this place I write today because I still love the church. And in the adapted words of Rachel Held Evans, I want to help keep the church weird in all its best, Jesus-following ways.
I've struggled to find a church where I feel at home, where I feel I fit, and honestly where I feel like people see me. Many times when visiting a new place I feel like the awkward 8th grader with braces and the wrong clothes.
When I saw the photo below from Arts Pastor blogger and author W. David O. Taylor I was reminded of something I knew deep down but hadn't yet formed into a clear thought: when there is aesthetic beauty inside a church it conveys a sense of awe, wonder, and reveals God's bigness to me. I suddenly forget if I'm wearing the right clothes or saying the right words on time. I feel settled. I feel calm. I sense God in, around, and through me.
I long for those experiences. And yet it wasn't that long ago I was able to name what had been missing for me in my church experiences for so many years: beauty.
Each time I see or step into a cathedral or stained glass chapel I find myself unconsciously responding to the reality of God, his love through Jesus, and that we're all in this life and world together. It (quite literally at times) draws my eyes up and drains the anxiety from my shoulders. God uses beauty to hold me in his truth.
"God uses beauty to hold me in his truth."
Not all churches can meet in frescoe-d spaces, but we can be mindful of the power of aesthetics in our gathering spaces. We can invest our attention, time, and resources into fertilizing the artists and opportunities around us so beauty can grow in our midst. Perhaps it's one of the best things we can do when our ears are tired of hearing, and our messages and advertising sound increasingly so similar.
Beauty is not a luxury - it is a life sustaining necessity. I forget that truth so often until I'm again caught up in its firm hold. Let us imitate our Creator and make our church, our communities, and our world beautiful again.
So about that whole ask and you shall receive thing I've been learning? This is what happens when I ask a few people to reflect on their experiences at the Art & Prayer workshop. Grateful, blessed, amazed, and humbled. Thank you, Susie, Amber, and Joyce!
"I loved my experience at the E:V Art & Prayer Workshop! Christine is an exceptional leader; creating an intimate, safe, open and beautiful environment to dive deeper into the depths of my heart and the Spirit's heart for me. The art & prayer process she teaches is a creative, intimate and beautiful way to use art to stir and challenge and encourage a deeper walk with Christ." - Susie O.
"Never before had I experienced what it was to engage with Scripture, art and prayer all in one sitting. Christine led me through a process that enabled me to hear the Spirit speak in a very clear and powerful way. I appreciated that she wasn’t offering a onetime experience but teaching and reminding me that our God is not limited in the ways in which He can communicate with us if we would take the time to present ourselves before Him. Participating in a group setting lends the privilege of getting to hear how God is speaking to others and Christine’s humble disposition makes it easy to be honest and open. All ages and stages will enjoy!" - Amber P.
"I attended the Art & Prayer workshop and came away revived and refreshed in my walk with God. Specifically one of the drawing exercises spoke to me profoundly. It was amazing the depth of work the Holy Spirit did within a few hours of our time. I'm looking forward to attending the next workshop and bringing my husband so he can be blessed." - Joyce B.
If any of these experiences resonate with you, click below to register today.
Saturday, October 3, 2015
Long Beach, CA