“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” ― Annie Dillard
I moved to Oregon from Wisconsin in order to be closer to my adult children, in order to spend more time with them, in order to make the special occasion of a family gathering into a more frequent habit – not to make it less special, but to make it more accessible.
“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”
Yesterday, we celebrated my birthday and a host of other August birthdays in our extended circle of family and friends. There were 15 people on the Zoom call with six of us present at my new place.
If every day you see people you love who love you back, if every day you have food to eat, then I should think that each of your days would give you occasion to be grateful.
“In dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don’t try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present.”
Still life is still life. I am grateful for food and tools and objects of beauty. I am amazed at how these things can be used to create meaning and purpose and alleviate suffering. My heart is mindful of many who are suffering in the pandemic, the wildfires, the process of aging, the loneliness of separation. I wish them comfort; I send them love.
Special thanks to Patti, our host for this week’s challenge.
Creativity. Creation. Creators.
Growing up, I was taught that I was called into being by a Creator and that I had the ability and the responsibility to become a co-creator. It seemed like a very daunting future. What was I to create? What could I offer the world?
I started with trying to discover what I might be good at. I majored in Music/Voice Performance in college, and I married my High School sweetheart in my senior year. By graduation, I was pregnant. I had a talent for producing children, turns out. I had four children by the time I was 28.
I met a celibate priest and author, Rev. Martin Smith, at a church event. He spoke of how people would always wonder at his sacrifice of creativity and fatherhood. He assured them that while he was not making babies, he was making meaning.
“Making meaning” became a phrase that stuck with me. When I was 30, I began to write poetry. I self-published a book of poems and parables and sold 50 copies in our church bookstore.
When I turned 50, I bought myself a digital camera and started blogging. I had been using the Canon AE-1 that my high school sweetheart and late husband had bought me as a teenager to develop a photographer’s eye. Having the ability to see the frames instantly fed my appetite to produce images.
All this time, though, I wasn’t sure if I was really “good” at creating anything. I felt like I dabbled. I thought that I might not have earned that co-creator status that I was supposedly destined for.
During “the Time of Covid”, I clicked through a lot of psychology videos while sorting out some major life transitions. That is how I came across the very affirming words of Brené Brown, who maintains that we are inherently creative and that shame is the major obstacle to our living out that creative purpose. She and Scott Barry Kaufman (co-author of Wired to Create) did a podcast in which she shares this quote from one of her books:
“Unused creativity is not benign. It metastisizes. It turns into grief, rage, judgment, sorrow, shame.” -Brené Brown
Wow. So, on top of all the grief and rage of “the time of Covid”, not using your creativity will cause another layer of unhealthy detriment to your soul.
I had re-entered the community theater scene last year after 14 years. I was in a musical last summer and a production of “The Diary of Anne Frank” in February. In March, I played Irish fiddle (badly – having first picked up the violin only two years ago) in an improv comedy act, but the last performance, on St. Patrick’s Day, was cancelled due to the pandemic.
Via the magic of Zoom and Discord, I have been able to connect with folks to do reader’s theater versions of plays by Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, Thornton Wilder, and others. I do voices – English accents, Russian accents, old people, young people, men, women, and storms.
I started trying to learn to speak Spanish yesterday. My youngest daughter is teaching herself Russian. Together we are also addressing income insecurity and racism and politics in our precious face-to-face discussions. For me, making meaning in this “time of Covid” and after a cross-country move is about affirming life, affirming values, creating community, and living wholeheartedly into an uncertain future while braving the vulnerability and shame that always hovers around my humanity.
Creativity in the Time of Covid is essential for all of us. It is a practice for our individual mental health and the health of our shared humanity. We need to see ourselves as beings called to make meaning together and hard-wired to connect around our vulnerability. We are navigating in treacherous, uncertain waters. If we can make ourselves into a human life raft, we might just stay afloat.
Thank you, Tina, for inspiring creativity and self-reflection with this challenge, and for the very kind “shout out” to my previous post, Under the Sun.
“What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.” – Ecclesiates 1:9
The Sun, our home star, energizes the life of our planet from 93 million miles away. It has been doing that day in and day out for a very long time. When my perspective of change is tied to my own lifespan, it is easy to feel tossed about in dramatic arcs. To feel the peaceful constancy of the Universe, I need only to look up from my life.
While there is nothing new under the sun, there is more than enough that is new to me. If I ask around, though, I may find connections to the processes that continually have influence here and learn from them. That, I believe, is where wisdom is found. King Solomon might have been thinking about that when he set down the thought which opens this post.
All this time
The Sun never says to the Earth,
“You owe me.”
With a love like that,
It lights the whole sky.”
May you discover joy under the Sun and spread love generously, beginning with yourself!
Thanks to Amy for the inspiration for today’s challenge!
“Home is where the heart is
No matter how the heart lives
Inside your heart where love is
That’s where you’ve got to make yourself
At home” – Sally Fingerett
On the first day of this month, I moved into a new home, a quiet sanctuary surrounded by tall evergreens nestled in the foothills of the Willamette valley in Oregon. My four children were all on hand to help me move my belongings upstairs into the studio apartment above the garage.
“Between every two pines, there is a doorway to a new world.” – John Muir
This is actually the first time that I have lived by myself with a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and dining room that I share with no one else. The residents of the main house generously share the laundry room, patio, and garden with me.
“A home is a kingdom of its own in the midst of the world, a stronghold amid life’s storms and stresses, a refuge, even a sanctuary.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
But sanctuary is more than just a place to be. It is also the shelter of connection and hospitality. My daughter-in-law hosted a welcome picnic for me on the shores of Fern Ridge Lake.
And so I begin the process of “coming home to a place I’ve never been before”, and settling into the sanctuary of being myself, connected but independent.
“Within you there is a stillness and sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.” – Hermann Hesse