NaPoMo poetry party.11


Photo: Lesley-Anne Evans

Today is Easter Sunday. Whatever your Easter tradition or practice, whether you have one or not, I celebrate your presence. Having thoroughly enjoyed our time together over the past 10 days, and looking forward to more this month, here I am, hosting myself.

Easter Sunday is a day in the Christian tradition we’d be gathering together all over the world. We’d be turning to one another and saying: He is Risen; He is Risen Indeed! Those words are a proclamation for followers of Christ; those who trust in God’s mystery and love; those who celebrate the compelling audacity of Easter’s message; those who hold holy questions and doubts and wonderings; me.

I have been wandering on the road between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. And I arrive back here: with my lack of knowledge and understanding, and with my inconsistency of practice and ofttimes questionable motivation, still I am the BELOVED of GOD. The Easter story is perhaps so mythic and audacious because of its offer of unconditional and divine LOVE.

With a gift like this, then why does Easter feel less like a celebration this year? Why have I struggled so much with what I will say today on this blog post? Sarah Bessey, author of Jesus Feminist, borrows the words of her dear friend Rachael Held Evans, when she describes similar unsettled feelings this Easter. Sarah shares her Easter Sunday Field Notes deeply grounded in her life of faith, and then she says this:

On the days when I believe this…

It’s the oddest and yet the most honest thing for her to say in my opinion, this way of believing one day, and not the next. What else do I have but the truth of my own experience? And this is how my faith looks; one day transformed by love; one day tempered by the worry of personal circumstances and a great blanket of fear and weariness brought on by COVID; one day I believe; the next I wonder if any of it is true.

In her Easter message, Sarah goes on to say:
“God [is] with those still mourning, with the scared, with the sick, with the angry, with those who hold the great and terrible knowledge of the Presence of Love in our thin and weary places. On the days when I believe this, it’s enough. On the days when I don’t, it’s still enough. Christ is Risen.”

He is Risen Indeed.

Sigh…

And now, in responding as each poetry party guest has done so generously, here are my answers to our daily questions:

1. We often say we wish we had more time for certain things. Are you spending your time differently in view of our current world challenges? If so, how?

Lesley-Anne: Being a writer and already working from home, my life hasn’t changed much on the surface. I have a daily routine and creative practice that I’m continuing to keep while I stay in place. Adjusting to having my husband working at home, and hearing his business calls in what would have otherwise been a silent space, has been interesting.

I find time has expanded, and sometimes days feel endless. I am taking on small projects to try to focus on good things outside myself. Like this poetry party, for instance. It is a way to reach out to others and right size (for a little while) my worry. I’m may join the mask making efforts as well, or something else. But I still wake at night, anxious about my kids, about our world. There is always tension.

2. What is the core factor that brings vitality and life to you?

Lesley-Anne: Curiosity, along with the desire to look and see has always taken me to beautiful places, and can be a challenge to me. I wonder things and pursue answers, but often there are none. If my curiosity takes me too deep, it can be difficult to bear. But if I approach the world with lighter curiosity as an observer and then celebrate what I see, then I am easily overcome by the beauty of the natural world, the little everyday miracles all around me, and I find myself taking photos of it, writing about it, and going deeper with it in a way that is not too heavy or difficult. I find creation and creativity are mysterious connections to Creator.

3. What is one surprising thing that happened today?

Lesley-Anne: I was shocked to discover that a Northern Flicker has been trying to create a nesting cavity in my Bothy’s exterior wall. Now we will try to find a way to live in harmony, possibly by building a nesting box for him, or for owls.

My blog you already know about, and if you’d like to learn more about my creative life, projects, writing, please drop by my website here.

The poem I’m sharing today is a work in progress. Thank you for spending your time here with me today.

Blessings and peace,
Lesley-Anne

It is a Song With and Without Words


It’s robin red breast who gives word 
to backyard junkos, who calls 
a five minute warning. 
And as the swans v-wing I know 
for sure, light 
stretching elastic to meet early risers, 
leaves winter to a little death. 

I breathe, restless for essence of rain 
and reclamation, earthworm soundings 
in soil depths. The glory, 
glory hymns of songbirds, glory 
in the fullness of Fibonacci curve 
of lambs wombed and waiting, 
subtle fissures in fragile shells, 
green’s insistent pierce 
through monochromatic grey. 

Revival days, when tulips prove 
their faithful hearts, and bridal-wreath 
believers raise their arms wide 
and white in praise. And the wood 
blooming the colour of Amen.

-Lesley-Anne Evans

 

Give yourself a break!


LA in bookstore photoI’ve been deeply focused on creativity this week. Preparing and presenting a talk that I gave on living a creative life @ Purple Vine Club in Kelowna last night. A written version of my story is scheduled to be published in the Sage-ing Journal in March. Stay tuned.

But the just of it is this: We are ALL born creative, we ALL have the divine thumbprint of creativity upon us. I believe it is true.

At the Purple Vine Club meeting last night, creative juices were flowing as guests participated in some fun exercises and also in more introspective ways. I shared my life story, and then invited the guests, at some later date but soon, to take the time to be still, listen, ask, consider and then respond to what it might mean for each of them;

… to engage in a creative way of life, a “poi-eh-ma” with God, by inspiration of this verse;

For we are God’s “poi-eh-ma”/masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Ephesians 2:10 New Living Translation (NLT)

…to engage in a transformative lifelong process, a spiritual pathway of communion with the Creator, by glorying in the fullness of the created world all around us, through expressing our unique acts of creativity, and the resulting beauty spilling over into the lives of others.

Now this is a big ask. It is. It is difficult. For those who wonder about God, about what he is up to in this world. About his very existence. About his relevance. Or, for those who have lots of big questions that remain unanswered. For those who struggle with things that they can’t seem to make peace with. And ones like me who attempt to live in a paradoxical tension of not knowing, everything, but just enough to keep on keeping on, most days. And that is the spiritual side.

Then there’s the creative side, the difficulty of finding the time to be still and listen. Or the thought that maybe there is no creativity to tap into. Or for those who have not been doing anything creative for a long time. Maybe never. For those who forget how.

So, my post today is to encourage you with a wider scope of what creative living might be. Because I’m talking about a way of seeing, and sometimes seeing requires our glasses to be dusted off.

Here are a few words and then some images of what I mean when I say creativity has a WIDE scope in our lives. Perhaps one of these is the language of your CREATIVE life:

music, tattoo ink, concrete finishing, cabinet making, play writing, finding a cure, making a way, attacking a cliff, lighting design, designing new soccer plays, photography, canning jam, cooking, carving, baking, cleaning, organizing, ideas, decorating, gardening, writing, dancing, videography, cake decorating, sewing, knitting, scrap booking, singing, drawing, sculpting, metal work, thinking, sand castles, putting up a tent, grooming a dog, philosophizing, building lego, putting on makeup, refinishing old boats, renovating houses, architecture, engineering, electrical circuit building, dog training, interior design, propogating plants, setting out a race course,  model making, making money, building a business, investing, having a family…

are you beginning to see

DSC_0143 DSC_0364 DSC_0463_2 Love is Stronger DSC_0482 DSC_0104DSC_0067 DSC_0078 DSC_0005 DSC_0020 DSC_0032 DSC_0044 DSC_0082 DSC_0002 DSC_0026

My point is, don’t be so hard on yourself. You have something good to offer up. A creative language that is yours alone to speak into the world. Like the rest of us do. Sometimes it takes time to find it. But you will. Don’t give up.

For me there is a clear connection… Creator God, Creation, Creativity, Creating… it is simple and yet it is profound. I’m not certain I really know what it means or ever will. Please share your thoughts with me on this. I’d so appreciate if conversation breaks out!

It’s always a new year, and each new day is alive with potential. Can you see it? Hear it?

On the same way, looking…

Lesley-Anne

Provision… a poem


Song Sparrow, Winter

Song Sparrow, Winter (Photo credit: Ed Gaillard)

I joined an online group of poetic souls at dVerse. I’m just beginning to poke around and see what I can dive into over there, but for this week’s “Poetics”, we are invited to work in First Person Narrative. First person narrative is storytelling through the voice of the character, at a particular moment, and referring to themselves. We see things through the narrators point of view. This then is my offering;

Provision

Today it is enough ~
this fragrant cedar bower
this covering of down
well fluffed against the chill.
Today it is enough ~
backyard feeder brimming
millet seed and sunflower,
snow melting in the bath
a slackening of thirst.
Today it is enough ~
echo of dusk song thick
on air, wrappings of
wings tight warm,
my head upon my breast,
I keep this winter space,
this grace before flight.

Inspiration of Matthew 10:29-31  Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Soon and very soon… we are going to see!


I’m reading a book, actually devouring it between gulps and sighs and head nods because, although I have only just begun to touch the tip of what the author describes, I know in my life what the author knows to be true… and to borrow the words of a design icon Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886– 1969) “God is in the details”.

I imagine my eyes having scales on them, you know like the ‘Don’t Drink and Drive’ commercial where they give you an object lesson by letting you see through an increasing number of glasses, beer filled, to what it is like to be intoxicated while driving? Do you know the one I mean? Well, I imagine I am going through this life with scales or a level of dullness over my eyes and yet sometimes, like this morning when I was driving home from dropping off the kids at school, the scales peel back, just for a little while, and allow me to see things more clearly, more thankfully, more full of glory than ever before. And I have to wonder if you saw me right now, at this very moment, would my face be glowing because of it. Like my heart is? I wonder?Image

Anyway, you must walk, run, or google the nearest (online) bookseller and buy this book, read it, soak in it, in the possibility of living a full life because of how you live it and what you see in it and your response to that seeing. Knowing we don’t have long here, knowing there is more than meets the eye, yet our eyes (yes, and all of our senses, physical and spiritual) just might be what point us to the astounding glory of earth and it’s inhabitants (yes, us), and the very real possibility of a God who has designed/packed/put his fingerprints all over this planet so that EVERYTHING reflects/contains/points to a profound and utter glory of who he is… so that we will FIND HIM. Gosh, does this sound so crazy it just might be work? (blatant reference to one of our fav. family movies, The Masters of Disguise)

Here’s what happened as I drove home… and once I arrived…

I saw…with eyelids peeled back… a sign that said thank you, horses grazing on new spring grasses, a hawk reflecting the morning sun, flowers… pushing out their brightest and best show, a beautiful blue truck, a volkswagon camper… retro style one… so cool, my neighbour’s friendly hello, the garbage trucks with their new and updated (very much like the Canada Arm!) technology Imageand capacity to lift the cans off the ground rather than using back breaking manpower, classical music wafting from my neighbours piano, the softness of my dog’s ears… ALL THIS… and MORE! The tone of blue of the sky, the stacked poofs of cotton clouds resting softly in that low spot on the rolling tops of the Okanagan Highlands… YES, and MORE…

Thing is, I believe what I saw is such a minute portion of what is always all around me, yet had such an impact on me… my heart raced, the corners of my mouth turned up into a smile, my chest expanded, I breathed deeper, I felt thankfulness, gratitude, perspective, a desire to come home and take up close photos of the breathtaking beauty of a pine cone splashed by yellow light and laying on my concrete driveway… and other tiny and precious things in my garden.The minutia of this world filled with the glory of God! YES!!! And might I suggest I am still feeling the joy of that encounter… the author of that book I mentioned would agree. It is her experience too!

I believe it is true. God is in the details. There’s a text that says God’s glory is the fullness of the whole earth… WOW! When we slow down enough to look, He is there. He will speak. He is always speaking. And when I hear him (with my eyes, ears, heart…), I am undone.

Oh, the book… One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp. Buy it. Read it. It might just peel back your eyelids…let me know what you see!

Love you,

Lesley-Anne

The healing power of creative expression?


full body tattoo

Image via Wikipedia

Last week, I had the privilege of speaking at the esteemed Okanagan Institute Express, on the topic of  THE THERAPEUTIC MUSE CELEBRATING THE HEALING ARTS. I was one of a panel of four artists, each involved in different artistic ventures that have resulted in a particular experience of healing.
The mission of the Okanagan Institute is to contribute to the quality of creative engagement in the Okanagan through publications, events and collaborations. If you have never attended one of their Express events, I encourage you to do so, Thursdays at 5 PM at the Bohemian Bagel, Bernard Avenue, Kelowna, B.C.
This is what I shared with those gathered last Thursday night.
Soli Deo gloria, Lesley-Anne.
Poetry and the healing power of creative expression

Preparing to speak tonight on healing and creative expression, both as a writer, and as a human being, led me to ask several questions;

What is healing?
When we say healing, do we mean physical healing?
I have a friend who is absolutely convinced that her cancer-filled body, is healed. Another friend, with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, believed in a healing miracle for three years before he passed away. I’ve been asked to pray for ‘healing’, and I have to admit that causes conflicting emotions for me.

Healing is multi-faceted, involving our heart, our mind, our spirit or soul, and our body. When we make peace with something, that’s healing. When our hearts finally mend after a huge loss, that is healing. When we change a thought pattern, or still the voices, or quiet the demons, or forgive the unforgivable, all that is healing. And, when we speak of our disease going into remission, or our body being clear after a series of treatments, that’s profound healing as well.

Why do we need to be healed?
To say we require healing suggests we are broken, hurting, imperfect people. This is the human condition. This is who I am, as much as I’d like to project otherwise. Yet, we all desire to be whole people, don’t we? We all seek healing to some degree or another.

And, what is creative expression?
The act of creating anything, whether a dance, or a painting, or a garden, or a cathedral, or a poem, is inherently powerful. This ability to create belongs only to the human race. It is an echo of the divine nature in each of us.

Creative expression is about courageously delving into our inner lives, unearthing or glimpsing something unique, intriguing, transcendent, and then casting our thought, idea, epiphany out into the world, in the belief that what we have expressed has a purpose higher than ourselves.

Creative expression is deeply cathartic. In the process we acknowledge who we are, what we have to give, and then release our creation to leave it’s mark on the worldŠ proof that we were here.

Creative expression allow us to tell a story to someone whom we may never meet. Author Stephen King says in his book, On Writing, ” We are not even in the same year together, let alone the same roomŠ except we are together. We are close. We are having a meeting of the minds.” That’s powerful stuff.

Is everyone creative?
Yes. Although sadly, many have lost touch with that part of themselves, like the free spirited pre-schooler who was told to colour within the lines. Creativity is hard wired within us, and we are more fully alive when we learn how to reconnect and express this part of who we are.
But does developing and expressing our creative nature heal us?
Healing, of the body, soul, spirit, heart and mind, comes from wrestling through, therapy, acceptance, faith, forgiveness, surrender, wise counsel, time, distance, AND creative expression. As difficult as it is to understand healing, it is still more difficult to measure. We look for outward proof about something that is, by nature, internal and personal.

A healed individual may manifest a spirit of peace, grace, joy, hope, resilience, often where we least expect to see it. I recall hearing of a woman who, when pulled from the rubble of Port au Prince, Haiti after 17 days, was smiling and singing a hymn. She was peaceful rather than afraid. I sense her spirit was whole while her body was bruised, broken, hungry, thirsty, and her mind, longing for release.

The creative arts allow us to put our complex feelings about our world and circumstances into word and action, rather than allowing things to fester and grow into something ugly inside us. Peace is a byproduct of creative expression.

Many Kelowna artists are working through their media to express deep sadness over the devastating situation in Japan.  Jody Bruce, an artist friend, woke in the middle of the night unable to sleep, and was compelled to create this beautiful piece called, ‘Hope’, because she just had to do something in response.  She offered her painting of an illustration to us tonight. Another local artist, Carrie Harper, has created a Facebook Group called, “Artists for Japan”, where artists can donate paintings for online auction. All proceeds will go to the Canadian Red Cross effort in Japan.

On a more personal note, last year, when I heard about the devastation in Haiti, and felt immobilized to do anything hands on to help, I worked through my emotions by writing to poetry. It allowed me to let go of my feelings of powerlessness, make peace with the situation, and to empathize to some degree with what was happening there;This is one of those poems; 

Haiti  16:53

What seems like one minute you are chewing on your HB pencil
Staring at the clock and dreaming yourself out onto the dusty street with
Football between your agile feet, and running, running.

The next, you are lying on your back struggling
To breath, through white dust that settles in your mouth and lungs
And you somehow can’t make your hand wipe away what stops your eyes from blinking.

Sounds of moaning, all around you in the dark, burst the tiny bubble of
Hope that, you are daydreaming at your desk, and you will wake up any moment
And the clock will say 16:54.

Have I experienced healing as a poet and writer?
I haven’t always been a poet, haven’t been able to say I’m a poet without choking on those words. I’ve become a poet. It’s taken time, courage, and a healthy dose of faith to stand before you today.

Art, music, design, love of the written word have always been part of who I am.  But my design career as an Architect ended when I became a mom. There were many years when I did not creatively express the deeper things of my heart. And part of me shriveled up and almost died.

Then, about 6 years ago, through weighty circumstances, and the pursuit of spiritual formation, I began to pay more attention to my inner life, to the ideas and desires that percolated around inside me. I began to write, and opportunities came for me to share my writing. I started to listen to people’s positive response to my writing, which fueled my passion further, and gave me greater purpose.

I see a clear connection between Creator God, and the ability to express my creative nature in writing and poetry. I am a spiritual being, and my creativity is a spiritual pathway for me to commune with God. To write is a gift. In the movie ‘Chariots of Fire, the olympic runner Erik Liddell says, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.” That is how I feel about my writing.

As I write, I find that my words contain a common message of love and longing, wonder and revelation, grief and loss, forgiveness and redemption, this message resonates with others.

Healing happens when I write because I embrace what I was intended to do. I use my unique voice, and add it to the chorus of humanity. Writing gives me permission to ask unanswerable questions, and to speak of unspeakably difficult things. Writing allows me to own living in the tension of not knowing, not being in control, not needing to be the one. I live as a writer who relies on God, and isn’t afraid to be human.  Living out of this new wider place is what heals my soul, a little bit day by day. 

So what is the ripple effect?
Sometimes we don’t expect to be part of a healing process. it happens as a byproduct of what we do. 2 years ago, I created a book for that friend I mentioned earlier who had ALS. I collected stories, letters, emails, poems, bible verses, photographs, and worked with a graphic designer to produce a book called ‘Buddy Breathing’. The most powerful part of my experience, was seeing how written words impacted my friend. I was witness to healing.

Over the weeks and months that led to his death, Art’s bible, and his book ‘Buddy Breathing’ became touchstones of strength, and platforms for meaningful conversations. In hospice, in the small hours of the night, his nurses read to him. He often asked friends to read and re-read certain portions of the book. He would say, “Is this really about me? I can’t believe people say that about me.” He was made stronger in his daily physical struggles through the affirming words of others, through knowing his life mattered. His heart was healed, though his body never was.

Could it be that our experience of healing through the creative process, the healing of our hearts, minds, and spirits, is just a tiny taste of what’s to come? An ancient Hebrew text promises that, “One day, God will wipe away EVERY TEAR from our eyes, and here will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain.” Could it be, that through creative expression, we are being invited to a deeper encounter with  Creator God, the author of creativity and the source of ultimate healing?

Considering creativity…


Leonardo da Vinci is well known for his creati...

Image via Wikipedia

What is the relationship between Creator, creation, and the act of creativity? Not pro-creation, in this case, but the art of creating objects of our desire. Be it a painting, or a sculpture, or a piece of music, or a home-made card, or a poem, what is the process that leads us to this place of desiring to create something of lasting value.

Why is it that when we learn to create (yes, some need to be taught how to do this), we feel entirely more whole, more well, more about what we are ‘supposed’ to be doing? Perhaps creativity is hard wired into each of us. I can’t help believing that it is. I’d like to believe that each of us, carrying the Divine fingerprint of God inside our souls from the moment we were conceived, also carry within us (to a much lesser degree, of course) his ability to create. And, through the art of creating, he draws us closer to him, allowing us to find fulfillment in what he made us to do from the start?

Now this is all supposition at this point, and I obviously need to do my do diligence, and back up what I am saying with some strong foundational truths, but, I’d just like you to consider this;

That we were created by a Creator with the inherent and uniquely human ability to carry on his creative work, in perpetuity, for the purposes of his and our pleasure, and the ultimate discovery that he is all in all.

Just wondering…

Lesley-Anne

Poetry Friday030


Things I saw while not looking

A lone robin — Spring’s ambassador —
hopping tentatively over the tired snow.

Red-wing blackbirds calling in raucous warbles
from hidden perches in the frozen marsh.

Three tundra swans banking wide white circles
in the valley below us, on our way home from school.

The sun painting my kitchen a watery yellow
through fingerprinted winter windows.

Lesley-Anne Evans
02/03/2009

Photo courtesy of Malcolm Evans