Saturday, September 24, 2011

You Ever Wonder?

I mean seriously, just sit and absentmindedly ask "why?" At the moment there's a certain mystery and moving of the spirit going on. I'm sitting here on a Saturday morning, in my own space, surrounded by people who love me, art(work) in process, exercise equipment and a full belly. I have access to the internet via high speed connection and I'm working on a reliable computer. In other words, I'm blessed.

Not "why" am I blessed but simply "why?" This is a moment where I am flowing in the depths of something far larger than me. I can sense the depth of it all and yet it is indescribable. I have all I need and I am on a path.

Why? Why am I here, where am I going and what's my next move? Really, in the moment, I've gone past these questions. I don't need a response outlining the facts, I have faith. I am certain all of this is working and I am blessed. There is no lack or uncertainty, there is no turning back.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Clear Channel

Autopilot: OFF

So, it’s Friday; on the schedule it’s the day to publish my blog. (Actually, it’s Thursday and since last night I’ve been thinking about this subject.) We are certainly taught the power of sameness or another expression for it, discipline. In a society with roads that should be smooth, cars that are mass-produced and income in the form of direct deposit to our bank accounts (less we should delay depositing the money in the bank and have auto-payments bouncing all over the place), we have learned to stress over something else. Mind you, this is not an “anti-machine” or “down with the establishment” blog. There are experts who are ready to topple the constructs of our lives. I for one, aint one of them!

One of the things I’m learning is that for me, those many years of feeling “different” wasn’t just some crazy kid, trying to be different. No, I am unique. I may not look it to my drawers exposing young folks, to my corporate button-ups, or my grunge, ripped flannel shirt wearing artist compadres, but I am. Sit with me for a while, listen to my perspective; you would find many similarities. Then again, you’ll probably hear thoughts that would make you want to rip my head off. Guess what? I’m different.

I was on a good path, in my young adult years, before I heard the siren song of “sameness.” I boldly declared, “I’m going to college and I’m going to be an artist,” when paying tuition was more than a notion! I filled out an application for a scholarship that didn’t mean much at the time – and I got it. Went to school without paying tuition four years and completed on time. But again, siren song of sameness, the back-up plan or “Plan B” begins to ring in my ear. Everything from “Black folks don’t act like that,” to “I don’t know any Black people who are artists,” was said. And I slowly started to agree. I was kicking and screaming my way into a seat where the “machine” controls the altitude and speed at which I fly.

It is a comfortable place to be, where you know what your income will be. As part of our instruction, we have been taught to work for a “good company,” earn “good money,” and “live in a house in a nice neighborhood” – at least that’s what I was taught. And I did exactly that and in that order. I got the job, the money and the house. Autopilot living. And yet, there was always this nagging since of “something else.” I even accepted and announced my calling to preach and served faithfully in my church. But even that didn’t satisfy that gnawing feeling, that sense that there was something more that needed to be done. For many years, I just assumed it was a sense that would never be satisfied. On more than one occasion, I cried out to the clouds: “WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?” as I tried to respond to this sense.

I’m sitting here, writing – I love to write. In a while, I’ll make or take a call from a family member or friend, looking for advice or merely for someone to hear them – I love to advise. But then I’ll sit in front of a large sheet of paper or a canvas and listen. Colors and shapes and textures are in front of me, whether the surface has been marked or not. I’ll begin to move, as though someone is guiding me and before long, I’ll catch the rhythm of the stroke, identifying additional colors and shapes with the tilt of my head. It’s not autopilot, anymore; it’s God-directed and inspired. I am not out of control but fully in control as I listen to directions he provides.

What about you? Your autopilot button: is it “off” or “on?”

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Open Clarity and Clearer Channels

Clear Channel ~ in process...
What I want and what I need. From a Christian or ‘religious’ perspective, we are often taught to ignore our wants and focus on our needs. We are taught  that we should ensure we focus on our needs and somehow, our wants will either go away or maybe, someday, we’ll get our wants met. “What do you want?” Has that question ever been asked of you? Especially where it’s asked with such emphasis, you have to search your soul and respond with that. Years ago, my previous pastor said he would visit people in the hospital and he would ask the same question of those lying in bed. They would start out: “well, I won’t God to bless me; make me a good person.” And he would stop them, mid-sentence and ask them more emphatically: “WHAT DO YOU WANT?” Of course, now he has their attention and they would say, “I want to get out of this hospital! I want to get well!”

At the moment it doesn’t matter the “whys” and “wherefores” of our misdirected wants; there are times one needs to cry out from the soul “Rescue me!” without worrying about if you’re saying it right or if help might come. Clarity says, in that moment THERE IS AN ANSWER – AND I NEED IT NOW!

The flip side of our extreme moments of clarity is that there is a response. So often, it seems we aren’t heard – I know I’m not the only one who has asked for a SOMETHING and no genie appeared granting my wish. But I also know I’m not the only one, who having cried out from that secret place in one’s soul and received a response of peace and brevity ~ a gentle and quick response that defies the mind to define. A clear channel makes moments into hours and hours into days. Give it thought as you go on your way. Your journey isn’t wasted; take each step and allow the peace to be your companion. Amen.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Are You "Heads" or "Tails?"

Open Channel (in progress...more to come)
Times are changing, that's for sure. But haven't they always? Haven't we always been "troubled on every side?" Isn't it true that as long as we have been on this earth technology and knowledge have always seemed to push us harder and further than some of us are prepared to go? But isn't that nature of one man's innovation and another man's fear?

I'm reading The Artist's Way, a wonderful book about recovering one's creative self. It's a twelve week course with the consistent process of Morning Pages and the Artist Date. The pages is a daily process of writing one's thoughts, pretty much as they come to you. I haven't gone back to review the last few weeks, yet. Maybe next week. And the weekly artist's date? Well, let's just say it doesn't take much to entertain me! Anyway, this is week four, and I'm supposed to avoid reading. The rationale being, we are often so busy listening and being "informed" by what we read, we don't hear our own voice, or more importantly, the voice of God. Try it for three days; you would be surprised how difficult it is not to read and be attentive to what around you rather than reading.

What does all this have to do with the question in the title? Glad you asked! In light of changes, sometimes we choose to "hunker down," and pretend this is just a trend and will soon fade away. Other times, we think change doesn't happen fast enough and "so and so ought to do..." Funny little people! It may feel safe to wait until "something happens," but how do you quiet that stirring in your soul? I mean really, I tried - wow did I try - to ignore the ache of wanting a bigger life. I bought the bundle of excuses, complete with "if God wanted us to have more he would..." But here I am, once again, sitting on a nail and aching to get off! So I decided to listen to those dreams I thought were "kid's stuff." I woke up and found out, if I try, I mean really try, if I hope as if tomorrow is a certainty and begin to move in the direction of my heart felt desire, God is in most assuredly in that path. No new road - especially a good one - is completed overnight. It takes time and a lot of effort. But I'm staying on the path. I choose to be the Head. That is, I choose to be on the cutting edge, obedient to a larger message. Staying in this path could put me at odds with those who choose safety, but really, what else do I have to lose?

Consequently, the tail. The tail is like this: "don't expect much out of life," or "life is difficult, just take what you get and make the best of it." Usually what follows pretty closely is: "all the goods jobs are shipped overseas!" And "the economy is in the toilet." The tail can only respond to what it perceives. It doesn't look forward to change, it merely reacts to it.

Today, out doing my usual errands, I drove through the Westmont/Clarendon Hills area of Illinois. I noticed the BEAUTIFUL buildings, newly completed to sell luxury cars. BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, and a new Infinity dealer under construction, across the street. So if the world is going to "hell in a hand basket," I guess some folks are riding in  an air conditioned, leather cushioned seat, right? Let me put it to you another way, if things are so bad for me and you, what about the dealers, mechanics, salesman and customers, regularly going in and out of these dealers? Do they know something we don't? If they do, maybe we need to find out what they know...