Daffodil Lament

Daffodil Lament

Some of my favorite songs are brooding laments with a nugget of gold hidden within. They begin in one key and/or tempo and then, folded within the song, is a movement, an upswing. There’s a faster beat, a shift from minor to major, a bit of sheer joy made all the more golden by its contrast with the rest of the song.

{My favorite this time of year is “Daffodil Lament” by the 90′s band, The Cranberries. I always felt the music perfectly echoed the feeling of an early spring day … the dark clouds and cold wind, and then yellow glow of a fresh daffodil, pushing up from dark ground, embodied in the bright shift of the music:

I have decided to start things from here
Thunder and lightning won’t change what I’m feeling
And the daffodils look lovely today…

Along the same vein, I’m also partial to The Stone by Dave Matthews Band. }

I relate to the honesty of darker sentiments in these songs, but I exalt in the shift. The dark informs the light, and light illuminates the darkness.

I learned about biblical laments a few months ago while leading Margaret Feinberg’s “Wonderstruck” study for a small group of women. She challenged us participants to write our own laments. Though I wasn’t in a particularly hard place then, I still found daily life lamentable enough to lay hold of emotion.

Join me for the rest of the story?

Mended

Mended

A broken necklace lies coiled in my armoire, next to my jewelry tools, chunky oval stones interspersed with turquoise, jet-black, and silver. A pile of mending collects near my sewing machine — pants missing buttons, tops with ripped armholes, jeans to hem. A toy car with a broken fender awaits super-glue. I walk past them to my kitchen countertop, where I line terra cotta with white glue, sandwich chipped halves together.

Before the weekend just past, I would have tossed this. But, as I stood in the chill April wind just a few moments ago, I could see it clearly. The crack stood out in stark relief, dark soil visible below. And, I knew.

broken

I will mend this broken treasure, and it will become beautiful. More worthy for the time I took to remember the friend who gifted it to me years ago. More lovely for the cool feel of clay on skin. More precious as I rub my fingers over the raised design and feel the weight of the words against my heart.

And, I think how much I dislike being that girl. That girl with cracks, chips, weaknesses. But, today, I have become undone. My heart aches as a chronic sickness re-emerges, while my soul still feels exposed and tender from a sweet weekend in the arms of God.

In Christian blogging circles we talk so often about beauty in brokenness, that I have rejected the concept as cliche. I have told myself that I will be the one who finds beauty in beauty. Who shares joy and loveliness and light in an often dark world.

And, I do.
And, I will.
But, I will also become the mender. I will take time to be thoughtful — to pause before passing over the flawed or trashing the fractured.

mended

Together, we can be the ones who reach past our world’s disposable culture to grasp the antique and unique, no matter how riddled with imperfections. Rather than hide or discard the broken, we will mend. And, our repairs will make the broken dazzling. We can cup the cracked in gentle palms, coax the pieces together again with love, and line them with gold.

Click here to learn more about the ancient Japanese art of kintsugi and to see my friend Annie’s beautiful cracked and gilded bowl she created during our weekend retreat.

Five Reasons Why Doing Nothing May Be The Best Thing You’ll Ever  {Not} Do

Five Reasons Why Doing Nothing May Be The Best Thing You’ll Ever {Not} Do

Last year, I did an occasional blog series on creativity called Spark Moms. I’m adding some new posts this spring, including today’s musing about one of the most powerful ways we can boost our creativity — by making sure we make time to do … nothing. If you’re new to the blog, and want to catch up on my other posts in this series, you’ll find the series indexed at the bottom of this post.

I recall this morning in the blissful early days of June last summer. I’d just grabbed my coffee mug, journal, and Bible and headed out to our deck, before the kids woke. It was summer, and the long days {late bedtimes} were keeping my trio of kiddos snoozing until at least 8 a.m. I had been sleeping in a bit myself and still getting that coveted block of morning quiet. Sometimes, if I were really lucky, I’d sneak in a little extra reading, or even some writing.

This particular morning, I was primed to get going and get stuff done. {Oh, how I love to get things done.} There’s nothing like checking things off the list.

Sign up for VBS – check!
Catch up on emails – check!
Clean out craft table—check!

And, cue: Sigh of deep satisfaction.

This is not going to happen this morning.
This is not a productivity tale, nor is it a woe-filled tale of an early rising child.
It’s a tale of nothing.

***

I got ready to open my Bible, but felt an overwhelming sense that I should do nothing:
Sit still. Observe. Breathe in. Breathe out.

God, really? I asked. You don’t want me to read my Bible and pray?

I was a bit mystified, but knew I hadn’t heard wrong.

I was rewarded richly. I witnessed a squirrel game of hide-and-seek. I saw robins and blue jays and cardinals. I heard birdsong and the high creek rushing behind the safe confines of the chain-link fence at the far edge of our yard. I smelled that fresh green smell of crushed lawn and faint flowers. I felt the slow, steady climb and fall of my own soft breath.

I experienced the unique pleasure of exhaling. I realized that while we seem to know we need more breaks from constant connection and online time, most of us have yet to realize that even talking to a friend or reading a book are still forms on inhaling, taking in more stimuli.

Doing nothing is the only way we have to process all we take in. It’s the only way to exhale out what we don’t need, so we can inhale the fresh, clean oxygen we so desperately need to breathe.

Doing nothing actually does five vital things for us:

1. Helps us hear God more clearly. So often, I am busy with my own quiet time agenda – prayer list, passage of the day, scripture memorization — that I drown God out. Doing nothing stops me from talking over top of God.

2. Allows us to tune into our intuition. You know that quiet voice that could tell you a thing or two? That if you let it speak would urge you not to reach for the second oreo, or to yell less and calmly redirect your kids? Yes, that one. You might want to listen up.

3. Boosts our creativity. The constant pressure to do and be more dries up our creative juices. Allow yourself some freedom for nada. Gift yourself the permission to be utterly, beautifully negligent – if only for a few minutes each day. Watch those juices start to flow.

4. Opens space in our lives. For me, motherhood often feels like being trapped in a box … and I’m claustrophobic. If you’re like me, you often fixate on the confines of that box {feeding schedules, naptimes, bedtimes, sports schedules, homework} and how they prevent you from doing what you really want/need to do. Doing nothing — while counter-intuitive — clears the air, releases you by its very indulgence.

5. Provides much-needed rest. Ever feel fried? I do at some point, almost every single day. Our constant intake of stimuli – fighting siblings, spilled milk, mommy, Mommy, MOMMY! – adds to the brain-deluge until we are so under water, some parts of our wiring sizzle and pop. Our minds need some tabla rasa time to repair those connections and refresh our perspective.

While I need to work on doing nothing – an oxymoron if I ever heard one! – I’m so grateful I listened and obeyed that morning. I left my little nothing session feeling rested and inspired.

So, the next time you have a spare minute, I hope you will choose wisely. I hope you will learn to reach for the beauty of absolutely … nothing.

Want to catch up on the Spark Moms Creativity Series? Here’s an indexed list of previous posts:

Spark Moms Posts:

Igniting The Spark
Permission to Play
Why You Need A List of Affirmations
The Done Vs. The Doing
You Glow Girl
I’m Not Creative … And Tomato Basil Tart

Spark Moms Interviews:

Melissa Aldrich, of Quiet Graces Photography
Liz Lanza, of After Dinner Designs
Sarah Dunning Park, Poet

Spark Moms Guest Posts:

Gindi Vincent, Do Your Right Work
Elise Daly Parker, In Living Color
Kathy Howard, Created To Be Creative
Christine Wright, Just Crazy Enough

Aren’t We Lucky?

Aren’t We Lucky?

Mom, look! She cups it — this bit of emerald-green wonder — ever so gently in her palms.

We inspect the four-leaf clover, humble piece of lawn that it is. Small holes punctuate a few areas, and its bright-green color reads vibrant, with delicate, lighter-green veining.

I remember those days, first as a kid and even as a teen, sprawled in the grass, nothing better to do than search for four-leaf clovers. I recall looking for years with no luck, and then one day, I found them — a whole patch of glorious mutants. I plucked four-leaf clover after clover, rare riches to press in my journal, show to my mom, brag about to my friends — because we all know that the four-leaf clover brings its finder good luck.

Roughly 10,000 three-leaf clovers exist for every one four-leaf clover, which makes them rather unusual. Yet scientists haven’t quite figured out what causes that fourth leaflet. Is it genetics or environment? They speculate about a recessive gene or a mutation or a developmental error. But, it’s this error, this mutation, this gene-code goof — that’s what makes the four-leaf clover special.

As God-sized dreamers, I think we are a bit like four-leaf clovers. After all, we do things quite differently than most of the world.

Join me over at God-sized Dreams for the rest of the story?