To What End?

Where has it all led us? To what end does all this peering into ordinary things bring us? Is it just the journey itself which gives meaning? Is it purely the act of paying attention – drawing ordinary objects in our ordinary lives in order to gain a sense of rootedness and see beauty beneath our feet? Yes. Certainly!

But it also leads us somewhere. Each moment drawn points the way to a glorious end. We who walk the pilgrim’s path of Christ, have a new Day coming! Indeed, in many ways, it is already here…for Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed!

The thought that each and every day is now a Resurrection Day, is both arresting and incredibly hope-filled. As Tish Harrison Warren writes in her book Liturgy of the Ordinary

“The Psalmist declares, ‘This is the day that the Lord has made.’ This one. We wake not to a vague or general mercy from a far off God. God, in delight and wisdom, has made, named, and blessed this average day. What I in my weakness see as another monotonous day in a string of days, God has given as a singular gift.” pg. 21.

What a gift Lent has been… a discipline of drawing daily from the ordinary things that surround us…life and loveliness for the path we each are walking.

“These moments of loveliness –good tea, bare trees, and soft shadows –are church bells. In my dimness, they jolt me to attention, and remind me that Christ is in our midst. His song of truth, sung by people all over the world, echoes down my ordinary street, spilling even into my living room.” pg. 140.

Even if I grumbled at having to draw yet another ordinary thing (like “leftovers”), I found by the end of the sketch, a true “moment of loveliness.”  From a closet to my living room, simple bread and wine, each place of ordinary-ness was a keyhole through which I could see the New Life beyond.

May we continue from this day forward, to walk with Christ, drawing the ordinary moments of loveliness, so that we can see the Risen Savior in our midst.

Happy Easter fellow pilgrims!

**You might enjoy this artistic collaboration of tapestry weavings (by yours truly;), poetry, and woodburnings that I have videotaped in a special episode of my Knitterly Arts Podcast. You can see this episode on the blog at jenniferedwards.com or on knitterlyarts.wordpress.com.

***A special thank you to Stacy, Cheryl, Kerstin, Gail, Heidi and others for walking and drawing with me through Lent! It has been a pleasure!

Even Here

I did not plan it this way. Honestly! Each week’s drawing prompts which I randomly listed for us to sketch every day, somehow fit into a category. I marveled at how this week’s prompts all had something to do with somewhat hidden things– stuff we put behind doors, cover with socks and shoes, stash in a drawer, put under a bed, or rarely notice behind the shower curtain.

I kept thinking…Here? Could it be that even here I might find something lovely? Could it be that even in these places where we never show our guests, or perhaps even take note of ourselves, that even here might be something for me. Something of beauty or meaning, or just simply colorful, or worthwhile.

While it may be stretching it to say that God lives under my bed, I do affirm that He deigns to be in the dust bunnies of my life. His presence can be found amongst the junk, in frigidly cold recesses of my heart, in a meager pantry (or a full one), and even in unsuspecting places ready to rain down blessings on my head. This coming week, we will remember with gratitude Christ’s washing of his disciples’ feet. Even there He would lower Himself to show us His love…so amazing…so divine.

I don’t know what all this drawing of the ordinary does in you. For me, I marvel. Could it really be that in the humblest of places, Christ’s presence abides and perhaps even shines all the brighter for the ordinary-ness of its surrounding? Why do I constantly look for Him in the big things? Why am I still thinking it must be in the grand, the accomplished, the organized, the neat, the pretty, and the spectacular where I will find Him at work? Every day of this pilgrim journey through life, and especially here during Lent, I draw breath at the wonder of spectacular grace in ordinary places.

I have recently been exposed to a translation of the Bible called The Message. I am enjoying its ordinary, everyday manner of speech. This passage encourages me in the ordinary walk of life we are privileged to journey:

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life — your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life — and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him.” -Romans 12:1

Offer the God of the Universe a shower head?

Yes. Gratitude for cleansing me.

Offer the Savior what’s under my bed?

Yes. Even in lowly places He deigns to dwell.

Offer the Creator my feet?

Yes. In service to Him who made me and others.

Offer the Lord my pantry and the stuff in my freezer?

Yes. In thanksgiving for His provision.

Offer the Lord the junk in my drawer?

Yes. Because He can use anything to display His beauty.

We have one more week of seeking Him in ordinary things through Lent. I, for one, hope to continue looking for God, even in…especially in!… unlikely places.

Buen Camino!

Keys

Though Tish Warren has a beautiful chapter on losing and finding keys in her book Liturgy of the Ordinary, I found myself thinking of keys in a different manner this week as I drew them. As pilgrims, much like Christian in Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, we each have been given a key (or keys) to carry with us on our journey. The keys themselves are not The Thing. They merely unlock something which then allows entry to The Thing.

*a key unlocks a treasure chest.

*a key opens a private diary.

*a key allows entry through a door or gate into a castle, a home, a garden.

*a key ignites the engine to drive a vehicle, a lawn mower, a tractor.

In short, without these keys, we are unable to enter fully into the life and beauty we were made for. 

My key ring for this pilgrimage (not only of Lent, but of Life as a whole) consists of a pen or two, a paint brush, knitting needles and a crochet hook. Like the keys on my actual key chain, they unlock hidden treasures and allow entrance to a world unseen by my busy, hectic life. Slowing down enough to draw an ordinary thing along my pilgrim path, ignites my imagination to see beyond and through the difficulties, the mundane, and the glittery and shiny distractions. Without these keys, I’m not sure where I would be.

What keys do you hold as you walk your pilgrimage through Lent and Life? 

Do you hold them close, using them daily to unlock the beauty God has for you?

I am so very grateful for the creative keys God has given me as I walk with Him and with others. We need each other, encouraging one another to take out our keys, our sketchbooks and pens, our knitting needles and hooks, and draw the treasures around us, knitting their beauty and meaning into our hearts.

If you see me along the Camino today, I’ll be the one with a set of keys jangling on her hip. Tap me on the shoulder and we will sit down together to draw, opening the gate to a roadside garden for rest and refreshment.

Buen Camino friend! Here’s a beautiful quote to carry with you on the Camino from the very end of Chapter 4, Liturgy of the Ordinary, by Tish Harrison Warren –

“God searches more earnestly for me than I do for my keys. He is zealous to find His people and to make them whole.” pg. 60.

And then from Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress

” ‘What a fool,’ quoth he (Christian), ‘am I, thus to lie in a stinking dungeon, when I may as well walk at liberty? I have a key in my bosom, called Promise, that will, I am persuaded, open any lock in Doubting-Castle.’ Using the key, Christian and Hopeful escaped.”

Signposts

If you are a pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, you would see little scallop shells on signs along the way. Painted yellow or blue, these markers let the pilgrims know that they are on the right path, that these roads have been walked before, and that there is provision along the way.

When you go hiking on a blazed trail, there are markers, usually on trees, letting you know which trail you are on, and encourages you to keep walking to the next marker.

The Israelites, in their pilgrimage through the wilderness, also had markers and signs to lead the way and let them know that God was with them on the path. A cloud by day, a pillar of fire by night, manna from heaven for making daily bread, quail in the morning, water from a rock…on and on, they received signposts from God, provision for the journey. And still they struggled to find gratitude or rest in what had been provided.

I find myself to be just like an Israelite, impaired by my shortsightedness and in need of seeing the daily signposts that God is with me, and that He has provided what I need. This discipline of drawing ordinary things through Lent is reminding me that these small things are indeed signposts along the ordinary path…small bread crumbs leading me home…tiny lamps to light the way.

There are birds providing a song of joy, chairs inviting me to take respite from the daily grind, socks to warm my tired feet, mugs, cups and coffee makers for soothing drink, and yes, a lamp for light in the darkness. Such simple things, but all necessary for a pilgrim’s walk through life.

I want to keep drawing, and so to somehow be drawn into gratitude and to rest in the provision of these daily, ordinary gifts. I hope you are finding this too!

Buen Camino friends!

Mirrored Moments

I looked at the mirror to draw the mirror, tracing the curly-cew lines around its edges on a white expanse of paper. I was concentrating hard, having difficulty keeping up with the circuitous dancing lines arcing here, swirling there, blossoming in places, leafing in others. It wasn’t until my focus turned to the reflective oval itself that I began to see beyond and through.

There, in this spare bedroom mirror, I saw, aside from my own reflection, another mirror. My childhood dresser holds atop of it another oval mirror in which I could see, once again, or twice over, the robin’s egg blue mirror on the wall that I was drawing. Had I keener eyes, I suppose I could’ve gone on seeing from one mirror into another forever.

Is everything we draw this way? Is every object, place, or person a mirror into which we can see so much more? I’m of the persuasion that it is so! Yet sometimes a mirror can simply be a mirror. We don’t always have to see beyond and through something, forcing the metaphor or squeezing meaning out of it just for its own sake. But I am finding through Lent that so much of what is ordinary, even overlooked, in my life, becomes a looking glass as I draw, through which I can get a glimpse of the beautiful, true, and even divine.

In my favorite movie, The Way, Jack from Ireland, a blocked writer, is walking the Camino to make sense of the “metaphor bonanza”. A fellow pilgrim suggests to him that “a dog fight near a cheese farm” might simply be a dog fight near a cheese farm. True. Very true.

Tish Harrison Warren, in her book Liturgy of the Ordinary, says this –

“As busy, practical, hurried, and distracted people, we develop habits of inattention and miss these tiny theophanies in our day. But if we were fully alive and whole, no pleasure would be too ordinary or commonplace to stir up adoration.” pg. 135.

And then on page 139 –

“These tiny moments of beauty in our days train us in the habits of adoration and discernment. And the pleasure and sensuousness of our gathered worship teach us to look for and receive these small moments in our days. Together, they train us in the art of noticing and of reveling in God’s goodness and artistry.”

If there was something to which I could pin the entire scope of my life, a trajectory or daily vision or goal, it would be exactly this:

To look for, recognize, see, and exonerate these tiny moments of beauty, noticing and reveling in God’s goodness and artistry in and through every moment.

The sketchbook is my training ground, my path on the Camino. A pen or a brush is my walking stick, penning each step, each moment, in such a way as to see through it and beyond to where all moments point – the Beautiful One and His heaven.

I want to see in every “dog fight near a cheese farm”, in every mirror, meal, wall plug and mess, the hint of heaven…”the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited”, as C.S. Lewis describes. (Read the entire quote HERE.)

It requires strength to do this. Commitment and discipline. God had to make me an artist so that I could see. I draw to uncover this beauty, and I have to do so daily, as an ongoing practice. Tish Warren says it so very well –

“But it takes strength to enjoy the world, and we must exercise a kind of muscle to revel and delight. If we neglect exercising that muscle – if we never savor a lazy afternoon, if we must always be cleaning out the fridge or volunteering at church or clocking more hours – we’ll forget how to notice beauty and we’ll miss the unmistakeable reality of goodness that pleasure trains us to see. We must take up the practice – the privilege and responsibility – of noticing, savoring, reveling, so that, to use Annie Dillard’s phrase, “creation need not play to an empty house.”

-pg. 136. (Annie Dillard reference is from “The Meaning of Life, The Big Picture”, Life Magazine, Dec. 1988.)

Buen Camino dear friends!

*Just finding this now? It is never too late to jump in on drawing your way through Lent, sketching ordinary stuff from your daily life! Drawing prompts and overview HERE.

**Want to develop a practice of drawing your life? Check out my ebook & video course designed to help you do just that.:)

Ordinary Routines

Day 1: Bed (Made or Unmade)

Day 1: Bed (Made or Unmade)

I’ve been amazed this week at how much of my daily routine is automatic. If I’m the last one up in the morning, I make up the bed hardly without thinking about it. Perhaps this is due to that early morning fog which needs a mug of coffee to clear, but even brushing my teeth and raking gelled fingers through my hair is as automatic as riding a bike. I would love for the loading of dishes in a dishwasher to be as automatic to certain members of our family (ahem). Yet even in loading our colorful Fiestaware dishes, the placement and arrangement of them comes without thinking too hard about it…large plates here, bowls stacked side-by-side there, water bottles upright back there.

Day 2: Brushing Teeth

Day 2: Brushing Teeth

I love drawing these ordinary things. It seems to exonerate the daily rituals in some way, and makes me slow down and consider why I do them. Surely there are practical reasons: care for my teeth, order out of chaos, clean stuff upon which to eat. But I love how Tish Warren puts it:

“We don’t wake up daily and form a way of being in the world from scratch, and we don’t think our way through every action of our day.We move in patterns that we have set over time, day by day. These habits and practices shape our loves, our desires, and ultimately who we are and what we worship.” pg. 30. Liturgy of the Ordinary, Tish Harrison Warren.

Warren calls these habits and practices, these ordinary automatic routines, our daily liturgies.

“Examining our daily life through the lens of liturgy allows us to see who these habits are shaping us to be, and the ways we can live as people who have been loved and transformed by God.” pg. 32.

Day 3: Brushing Hair

Day 3: Brushing Hair

 As I drew my hand on Day 3, I was struck by the amazingness of hands. Hands make the bed, brush teeth, comb through hair, load dishes, prepare food, drive a car, put on clothes, etc. I realized, watching my hand drawing, that even this daily ritual of making marks on a page in a sketchbook has become for me a liturgy. It is a routine that opens a door to seeing beyond what I’m drawing into a world where beauty reigns in the ordinary, light and love come through repetition, grace is revealed in monotony.

“It is in the repetitive and the mundane that I begin to learn to love, to listen, to pay attention to God and to those around me.” pg. 36

Day 4: Dishes

Day 4: Dishes

These are early days for my drawing pilgrimage through Lent. But I am so excited to apply this daily liturgy of drawing to the typically unnoticed places of our lives. As the prompts move along, they will encompass small and insignificant places in our dwellings and yards. I would not normally draw my sink, a shower head, or the contents of my freezer. Ha! That will be interesting!

Today, the first Sunday in Lent, is a Feast day and is therefore not counted as one of the 40 days of Lent. I will probably still draw today, as this liturgy of drawing is becoming almost as automatic as brushing my teeth. Whether you draw today or not, I hope you are finding this ordinary activity of sketching ordinary routines and things, a good way of focusing for the journey.

May this simple, repetitive act of drawing in a sketchbook be something (as Tish beautifully describes) that enlarges “our capacity to see wonders where true wonders lie.” May our daily routine of sketching form us “as people who are capable of appreciating goodness, truth, and beauty.”  (pg. 34)

Buen Camino!

Jennifer

*****

It is never too late to join in the pilgrimage of drawing through Lent! Just print off the downloadable PDF of drawing prompts and jump right in with us!

CaminoShell

Empty to Fill

emptytofill2

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.

emptytofill1

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!

***

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