Do you feel let-down after Christmas?Do you feel relieved? Are you tired of seeing everything in red and green? Do you wonder - what was this all about anyway? Well - you're not alone - I often feel perplexed and kind of disoriented the day after Christmas.
I just took a long walk in the snow, in the dark and cold; breathing in the crisp air and listening to the silence. I began to sense "peace on earth" and as I saw something out of the corner of my eye - I looked down at the ground by the sidewalk, I noticed the melting remains of a snow angel. You know, the kind you make by laying down in the snow on your back and moving your arms and legs back and forth through the snow and then carefully get up to see the image you left behind. I stood in wonder - who made it? It was of a medium size, so it could have been an older child or a shorter adult.
I just stood there and stared and started smiling and then giggled out loud and in that moment felt very close to my Creator. It was as if I was meant to see this - a random walk at a random time and yet - the joy of making that snow angel was contagious and I suddenly felt a genuine hint of the joy the angels must of felt at the birth of Jesus - not to mention how God & the Spirit must have been feeling! What an amazing moment in time - such joy, wonder, awe, excitement and love beyond all my comprehension.
As I walked back inside to the room with family & friends, I was struck by the contrast between them playing complicated virtual computer generated wii games - and the simple joy of making an angel in the snow - I smiled again at our desire as humans to be in community and to play together and the times when making a personal image in the snow can bring you peace and joy.
And so I say, MERRYChristmas! Peace on Earth & Goodwill to all of us! Suzanne
With Christmas shopping coming to a close, there are still some things I need to purchase.
I'm completely out of self-respect. I need to exchange the self-righteousness I picked up the other day for some humility which they say is less expensive and wears better.
I also want to look at some tolerance which is being used as wrapping this year. One store advertises a sale on "thank you". I think I need a big supply.
Someone also showed me some pretty samples of peace. We are all a little low on that and one can never have too much.
And I must try to match some patience to that which my neighbor wears. It is very becoming to her. I think it might look good on me too. I might try on the little garment of long-suffering they are displaying. I never thought I’d wanted to wear it, but I feel myself drawn to it.
Also, I must not forget to have my sense of appreciation mended and look around for some inexpensive everyday goodness. It is surprising how quickly one's stock of goodness is depleted.
What do you find yourself doing in times of waiting? Waiting for the light to change, waiting for Christmas to come or the birth of your first child or grandchild - what do you find yourself doing? I have a few pictures of myself as a child waiting - looking out a window. I have this pensive expectant look on my face. I remember at the age of ten, looking out my bedroom window, wanting and waiting for Jesus to appear and visit me. Much later, in my thirties, I did a series of drawings about looking out windows. The images were of waiting and a deep longing - a longing that is so hard to put into words and yet seemed to take over my whole being. Expressing these longings in images of color, texture, patterns and light helped me to see deeper into this longing - this waiting - this need to be content in the knowledge that the longing was of God - this special feeling, I believe, God places in each of us - an intense longing to be in relationship with the Holy. I continue to come to this inward place through the Love that has created me. By my contemplative creating into imagery these feelings, I am drawn nearer to myself, Spirit and those I love. How do you wait? What is your deepest longing? Creatively Yours, Suzanne
Do you remember any of the prayers you were taught as a child? Perhaps you were taught a bedtime blessing like I was:
Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. Angels watch me through the night and wake me with the morning light.
The grace for meals that is still with me is:
God is great. God is good. Let us be thankful for our food. By God’s hand we all are fed. Give us, Lord, our daily bread.
There are lots of versions out there and I’d love to hear yours if you were taught one. These are great when introducing a young person to pray, but, at least with me, they soon became rote. Deep inside I yearned for a deeper prayer life, a rich awareness and relationship with this God I addressed so casually every day. Who was “He?” Can He hear me? Can I recognize His voice and not confuse it with my own?
Have you ever asked yourself these questions? Those and others invited me to go deeper, to explore prayer forms and spiritual exercises to experience more of this God who felt so distant. What desires or questions invite you to go deeper, draw nearer to Creator?
Let’s get the conversation started. I look forward to journeying with you in this spiritual quest!
Some of my earliest memories are of making things and God being there, dancing, swimming, climbing trees and God; building sand castles, coloring, exploring nature and God; sharing, singing, listening… and God was there, waiting and wanting to be with me.
As time went on I realized not everyone had these experiences! How strange – or am I the strange one? Some people call this awareness of God - ‘flow,’ ‘in the zone,’ ‘meditation’ or ‘being present in the moment.” I know it as ‘drawing near.’
And yes, for me drawing means crayons on paper as well as the movement of coming closer – intentionally.
I’d very much like to be in conversation with you about connecting with the Holy. Let’s share our thoughts and feelings about how much God desires to be with each of us both individually and collectively. How are we drawn near to God comes through the endless creative ways with which God has gifted us!
Art making, dancing, singing and “just being” are my direct line to God’s loving presence - what are some of your ways?
Two authors and retreat leaders: Suzanne Halstead, artist and educator and Wanda Schwandt, pastor and writer. Visit our website: www.DrawingNearer.com for more information about us and our fresh approach to art and prayer experiences.