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!

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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.”

Waiting

A dear fellow pilgrim who sends me pics of her drawings via email everyday, noted that she realized she is in a waiting pattern…again. Last year, during our drawing pilgrimage she was waiting on a new well to be dug. This year she is waiting on a new-to-her-but-old house to be renovated. It made me wonder…

Are we always waiting?

Waiting for winter to end and spring to finally arrive. Waiting for summer break from school. Waiting for that tax return. Waiting for Friday to get here. Waiting for the car to be fixed. Waiting to pick up your child. Waiting for dinner to be ready. On and on it seems we wait for so many things. And wrapped up in all the waiting can be, as Tish Warren words it, “small pressures and needling anxieties.” pg. 54 Liturgy of the Ordinary.

I am forever desirous of changing my focus from that for which I’m waiting, to the moment at hand. Herein lies joy, in my humble opinion: To orient my heart and mind to where I am right now. These drawings of ordinary things aid me in pinning (and penning) my focus to here and now…

sitting beside this tree, walking along this curb or sidewalk, looking at this bush or canister of kitchen utensils. It is good to have anchors in the form of pen and brush, rooting me to now.

And yet I still wait. This is our human condition. Moving from here to there, waiting for the next “there”, yet cycling back around to the same places, even drawing the same spots year after year. I’ve drawn this very tree numerous times, along with countless other trees where I  live, as well as my sidewalks and curbs. Marking the seasons has become for me exactly that – marking on pages in a sketchbook, drawcumenting the moments of life as I wait.

Alongside John Lennon’s quote – “Life is what happens while you’re busy making plans”… I might offer this –

Life is what happens while you’re waiting for life to happen.

I’m helped by these words:

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.  Romans 8:23

Waiting can feel a lot like groaning inwardly. But I’m with Warren here…

“The call to contentment is a call amidst the concrete circumstances I find myself in today. I need to find joy and reject despair in the moment I’m in, in the midst of small pressures and needling anxieties.” pg. 54

Let’s keep drawing the ordinary as we wait for Easter, marking our days and finding joy in our moments of ordinary grace.

Buen Camino!

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

Unplug to Plug In

unplug

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