Empty to Fill

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I was given a beautiful silver-plated bowl from a friend at Christmas. I eagerly placed it on our breakfast table and started to think what I might fill it with. But it looked so lovely just sitting there empty, all that silver surface reflecting the light and colors around it, shadows and shapes mirroring the landscape of its curved interior. I just couldn’t do it. I could not fill it up. It represented how I wanted to experience life – open, free of “stuff”, clean, reflective.

I still want this two months after receiving the gift. The bowl still sits on our breakfast table without anything in it, despite another friend giving me a bag of yummy Dove chocolates specifically to fill this very bowl. I still can’t bring myself to fill it up. I love it just as it is, empty, shining, receptive.

I am now on the eve of Lent, on the cusp of starting a reflective journey to Easter. Lent merely means “lengthening” as in the spring days lengthening due to the light lingering a few more minutes each day. I am considering the ways I want to empty, to lengthen the space in my life for this reflection to occur, to create an open space or receptacle each day in order to receive. A stuffed-to-the-gills life has no room to receive something. And so I consider how to empty and I ask for wisdom and strength to do so.

I am intending to fill some of the empty space by setting in front of me an empty page in a sketchbook. And then to fill that page with a simple drawing of something ordinary in my life. Something that I pass by each day and typically do not notice. Something that would not otherwise draw me to draw it. In setting myself this task each day I’m anticipating seeing these things afresh. I will be looking for meaning in the mundane, for purpose in the plain, for hope in the humble things and places in my life over the next six weeks.

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I have companions for the journey. My husband Randy, friends near and far – Stacey, Cheryl, Deborah, Sheri, Joyce and numerous others who have written to let me know they are in…wanting to face an empty sketchbook page and then fill it with a simple drawing of an ordinary thing.

We are reading a book to inspire us. Tish Harrison Warren’s book Liturgy of the Ordinary will provide some ideas for us to draw. We are hoping you will join in too! Doesn’t matter if you’ve ever drawn or sketched before!! This isn’t about being Rembrandt. It’s about being an ordinary pilgrim walking the ordinary days of life sketching the small and unassuming things we see along the way.

That’s all. If you’d like some prompts, as in ideas, for each day of Lent, print out this PDF. If you miss a day, no worries! Jump right in the next day! If you’d like help in learning to draw or make marks in a sketchbook, check out my new drawing course. But above all this…make space, empty your minutes, or at least ten to twenty of them. Cup your hands around your sketchbook and receive a little gift for that day’s walk.

Buen Camino!

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I’ll be back within the week to report on my daily reflections in drawings and writings. You can follow me on Instagram for each day’s drawing, and you can post your drawings using the hashtag #drawtheordinary. I will also post using #apilgrimsdraw…feel free to use that one also.

CaminoShell

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Unplug to Plug In

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My sewing machine pedal sits unplugged on the floor underneath the machine’s cabinet. Something about the plug resting there in disuse is appealing…could I unplug? Completely? Probably not. Nor would I really want to. Partially? Yes, that might work. But what would it look like? There are so many ways one could unplug from life – Go to Spain and walk the Camino de Santiago, stay off social media for a while, reduce a day’s activities to only what is necessary for basic living, stay away from chocolate, caffeine and sugar as the necessary electrifying juices to keep going through the day, etc.

When I think of unplugging in any of these ways as a means of moving through Lent, I also think of what I might plug into in place of the unplugging. Certainly contemplation, prayer and meditation are good to insert in one’s life, if they have been missing from a daily practice. But tracing the lines of this old sewing machine pedal, coupled with a book I’ve just finished reading, has me thinking of a specific focus for my upcoming pilgrimage through Lent.

In Liturgy of the Ordinary, Tish Harrison Warren poses the question -“What if all these boring (ordinary) parts matter to God? What if days passed in ways that feel small and insignificant to us are weighty with meaning and part of the abundant life that God has for us?” pg. 22 (parenthesis mine)

This is what I’d like to sink deeper into for the 40 days of Lent. To seek out, to dive into, to discover more fully what the boring, ordinary things of my life have to offer me. Though I’ve spent years drawing this ordinary stuff in a sketchbook, there are still so many places yet to be drawn…this sewing machine pedal is an example. I don’t recall ever drawing it before.

This will be my Lenten Pilgrimage this year. I will still walk in my neighborhood as I do year-round. But instead of drawing from that half-hour morning walk, I will draw from the plain, simple ordinary activities of life and places of insignificance in my home and neighborhood. I know there are treasures awaiting me in these humble places.

I invite you, once again, to join me in this drawn Lenten pilgrimage. You might purchase and read Warren’s book as inspiration for seeing the ordinary from a fresh perspective. If you’d like to draw with me, you can follow the prompts I have set for myself each day through Lent, including Sundays (which are actually Feast Days) and Easter.

It doesn’t have to be elaborate. I’m aiming to make simple, ordinary sketches of simple, ordinary things. I’ll be posting the daily drawings on Instagram using the hashtag #drawtheordinary. Once a week I’ll write my reflections here and post all the sketches from that week.

I may very well unplug from those electrifying juices, or at least some of them. But I will, in their stead, plug into the ordinary places in my life in order to see, to listen and to be transformed.

40 Drawing Prompts for Lent

I hope you’ll join me! Feel free to download/print this PDF of drawing prompts for the 40 days of Lent. Use them however you’d like – draw them from 1 to 40 in order, or switch them up, or make up your own! Maybe designate a small sketchbook just for this pilgrimage. If you are wanting inspiration for how to draw your life in a sketchbook, I have a brand new ebook & video course to teach and inspire you on your journey!

I’ll be back in a week, on the eve of Ash Wednesday, the starting day for our drawing pilgrimage through Lent. I’m so excited to be going on pilgrimage again! And I do love having companions for the voyage ahead.

Buen Camino!

CaminoShell