Saturday, August 04, 2007

SAQA Auction and more than you want to know about me

Tomorrow my piece in the SAQA auction drops down to $350. No body likes my work enough to donate more to SAQA and get my little piece in return. the pieces that sell at $50 on the last day go to someone who just donates money so it looks good? This is when my anxiety and self-depreciating begin.

I am going public...I will get two show proposals/submissions sent out this week to two different galleries/museums/universities and I will get two entries sent in for art shows/art quilt shows. Now, I have made a public commitment...I must follow through or my name will be muddddd.

I am mentoring another SAQA member...I am very touched that she wanted me to do this. Also, in September I will be flying up to Canada to work with another lady who wants my one-on-one help in understanding design and color and wants to move in to making art quilts. This is so much fun! And just think, five years ago I was seeking a mentor.

This past year has been difficult for me. Due to all of the things that were happening last year, I did not enter very many shows in the past year. Now I am almost out of practice and my discipline is lacking. Earlier this year I committed to making a new body of work which I did, along with completely a huge commission which has been very well received. They said they would get a professional photo of it in site once it is installed. I can hardly wait but that is several months away, still.

So, I am doing some various types of work, painting pages in my journal so they are ready for writing, working on another big quilt (California Dreams 3) but I am not seriously engaged in it. I have found that I can make art but not be really engaged by it and still produce some decent work. Not great, but decent. it is only when I am able to "get into the zone" that I really produce something special. And this comes about when I intentionally open myself to the spirit of God and let myself respond.

Now I am going to get a little religious...not about what you should do, but about the process I have been going through. So now is the time to leave if you don't want to read this "religious stuff"

I grew up in a home where I was sent to Sunday School but my parents very rarely went to church. I can remember when I was 12 and we lived in Norfolk, VA, walking down the street to church with my dime tightly twisted in my hankie so I wouldn't lose it. But we never talked about God or spirituality or what we was just understood that you believed in God but I didn't know much else. When we lived directly across the street from the base chapel when I lived in Japan, I went often, my parents sometimes went and I began teaching Sunday school to the young (little)children. You know, we read the Bible stories in the handouts and sang songs...really heavy theology.

I remember when I went to visit during Easter with another student from college that I refused to go to church on Easter Sunday because I thought that I would be hypocritical...if I didn't go normally, why should I just show up on Easter? For many years I didn't go to church or give God much thought.

Then came the children. My husband and I did not talk about religion and God but I knew he had been very involved in a youth group at one of the big churches. We both felt that church was missing from our lives and we had a sense of obligation to bring up our children within a church. We attended for a number of years, really didn't make any friends at church, I participated in a women's Bible study group but found myself at odds with their interpretation of the Bible. I taught Sunday School and everyone thought I was just peachy-keen. But inside, I didn't feel that way.

The church began a big push to raise large sums of money for the family center and the day care program they were starting. We were relatively young, had two children, not much disposable income and felt really pressured. However, we were going to try.

And then, one Sunday, the minister began talking about how people had been talking to him about their friends who didn't believe in Jesus but were really good people and they were sure they would go to heaven. We were told emphatically that unless on believed in Jesus that there was no after life.

This was a little hard to swallow. I had lived in Japan for four years among Buddhists and Hindus and they all prayed and seems heaven bound. I also felt that God loved everyone and that just because one might not have heard about Jesus that one was condemned. I started really questioning who Jesus was and, obviously, left that church, never to return. Of course, I didn't discuss religion with my children because I didn't really have the knowledge except for the stuff one learned in Sunday School.

So, church was out of my life for about 20 years. Then, one day, a friend asked if I would be the godmother to her daughter. My husband and I went for the baptism at the Episcopal Church in the neighboring town. They had a new priest. What he said first of all to the congregation, moved me back to church. He said, "where ever you are in your spiritual journey, you are welcome here at All Saints." And then, before communion, he said that the table was open and anyone who wanted to be closer to God was welcomed at the table of Jesus.

Well, that was something new to think about. I called and made an appointment to talk to him the following week to find out if he really meant what he had said. And he did. And I am still going to All Saints.

During this past year in my EFM class (education for ministry) we did a lot of work on determining what our personal theology was. Now that is heady stuff for someone who didn't know much at all. During the past three years with this small group, I have gone through the old testament, but not learning versus but looking at how the Bible came to be written down, where the stories and myths came from and what they meant at the time they were told. And then the next years into the new testament, and doing the same thing there...what was said,who said it, to whom was it said and why was it said. Lots of new things came into my view. I could now stand up against the biggest religious spouter of what I felt were untruths about God and Jesus and hold my own.

However, during all of this time I have been really struggling to figure out just who this Jesus guy was. I had a pretty clear grasp of who I felt God was and I had put the Holy Spirit into my life (well, not really but I did learn that the spirit was with me and that I could learn to tape in to it if I paid attention) but Jesus was something else. I heard people talking about their personal relationship with Jesus and just had a hard time buying the stuff.

Two things have recently happened that have changed my point of view and have made things very clear for me. And that is really what I want to share but had to go through all the past history first.

Two weeks ago, we had a Mary Magdalen service. This was a service where we read and talked about Mary Magdalen..who she was and what role she had played in the lives of Jesus and the disciples. Of course, the fictional writing of the DaVinci Code was discussed and the question as to whether Mary and Jesus had an intimate knowledge of each other or may have been married was brought up. And the writings of Mary was also discussed. All of a sudden, I was very clear that it did not matter to me if they had or had not been married, had or had not had a child but what was very clear that I hoped that he had as that would have given him a chance to know the fullness of live with another individual on earth and to have that intimate relationship that a marriage brings about. Suddenly, Jesus started looking like a real person.

And then,the following weekend we took my grandson, Jacob for the night while his parents went out to a movie and dinner. He spent the night but is now too big for his porta crib. So, since the other two beds in the house are covered with quilts and magazines, he slept in our king size crib with my husband and I. During the night I would move him over, turn him around so his feet weren't in my back, turn him around so his head wasn't in my back, move him over so his knees weren't in his back etc. I did not sleep well. He woke up a little before I did. When I did open my eyes, he threw his little arms around my neck and said with lots of feeling "I love you Gammy"

When I looked into his eyes as he pulled away, after I had assured him that I loved him also, I realized that this was the Christ I was looking for. Not my grandson...but the complete, unconditional love that Christ gives us.

I have been higher than a kite...not born again, nothing like that. But feeling secure and happy inside. I believe that there are many ways to God and that no one way is the only nor the right way. I do, however, as a Christian, believe that Jesus is the part of God that came to earth to live the life of a human and to teach us to love one another, to care for those in needs and to work toward righting the injustices of this world. And that is my way to God.

I am not going to get in to the rest of my theology especially since it is still developing. I am very fortunate to belong to a church that does not judge me on my beliefs or lack of beliefs, that has stood with me as I acknowledge that I am not sure who this "Jesus guy" is and they aren't shocked by me...

so, there you have it...strong feelings that have been in need of a voice.

If you have stayed with me this fare, bless you...I need all the accompaniment that I can get!


Deborah Boschert said...

Thank you so much Liz. This is so powerful, thoughtful and honest. (And very very much like my own personal journey in many ways, and very very different in other ways.) I'll be thinking of you while I'm at church this morning.

Kathy said...

EFM is such an incredible program - I was in college when my mother started and have enjoyed sharing her reading list even though I couldn't participate in the classes.

That was a powerful entry and I hope your parish appreciates the gift of such an open mind.

Beverly said...

Thank you for sharing, Liz- as one who was raised in the evangelical tradition, I've had my own struggles coming to terms with who Jesus is and what he wants from me. Not sure I'm there yet--

And, I would love to hear more about how your spiritual journey and beliefs influence your art and the process. That is also something that is on my mind a lot.

As for the 'dry spell', I have no doubt it will come to an end. I love your work, love following what you share in the blog- and hopefully one day will have more to add to my prized postcard.

Anonymous said...

It's wonderful that you feel so openly on your blog. And that there are people that are willing to open their hearts to an idea that may be unconventional to their upbringing.

There are many paths we can take in life. But no matter what path you choose there was never a time when you couldn't stop for a prayer.

Your work reflects how you feel even when you don't think your really putting yourself into it. Keep working. The funk will pass.

Pat Dolan said...

Thank you for sharing your personal journey and relationship with the Divine. That is a very brave thing to do publicly and I applaud your honesty and courage.

My personal journey has been very circuitous and it continues to continue... As for church or religion, I've come to understand that religions are created to assist individuals in their spiritual growth. To the extent that any particular church, pastor or religion is helpful, therein is their purpose. When they are harmful, one is obliged to search elsewhere.

And, as always, the Spirit is within - the hard part is learning to hear and differentiate the Spirit from all the other things that go on inside the head and heart!

Thanks again for sharing.
Pat in NJ

Jeannie said...

Thank you for your honesty. You gives those of us who are struggling hope. I wish I had won the lottery so I could bid on your piece, I love your work. Enjoy your journey and again, thank you.

alanrkelchner said...

I just knew at the moment I read about your granson saying "I love you" that you were going to say you saw Christ. I'm coming from this as a pagan, but I firmly believe that Jesus was a good and holy man. His divinty is something for others to argue about. All that is necessary is to believe that he did exist, that he was a holy man, and that his example is one that you should follow.

Cathy said...

I admire your willingness to blog your thoughts and struggles with trying to work through these questions. I haven't been brave enough to write about my beliefs and faith on my blog. But my pieces from the last 3 years, following my major auto accident, are tributes to my faith and beliefs in Him. I also have been through struggles similar to yours. I believe that we become more solid in our beliefs and convictions because of that search.

Anonymous said...

What can I add except this is a beautiful and powerful witness and I am so happy to read it tonight. I am often the first to comment on your blog, but I have been on the road and I have not been reading too many blogs. Unconditional love — we should all have that for each other — what a great world that would be. Luv ya!!

dee said...

Thank you Liz, I can't adequately express how much your touching words meant to me. Regardless of what we may believe, with regard to Jesus, I am so moved by your thoughts and your devotion to the search for your own truth & faith. It was a lovely start to my day... Lovely

Anonymous said...

Awesome post, Liz. Thank you for such honest and heartfelt words! Inspiring!

Anonymous said...

How wonderful to look forward to church as a place of healing, acceptance, and love rather than a place where we have a duty to attend left over from childhood. I am glad my church welcomes ALL who come searching, just as my God welcomes ALL.