Morning Pages, or something like that

I’m new to Julia Cameron’s idea of Morning Pages. Her best-selling book, The Artist’s Way, has changed many lives and continues to do so. Lately, it seems to be the case for me as well. Through so much of what I write or compose, I am seeking to link the deepest places of my soul to the creative spaces in my head. To put it another way, I am happiest whenever my deepest longings meet my best gifts (thank you Frederick Buechner!).

But Ms. Cameron does this so much better, so here we are. I love the idea that art can create wonder from boredom, peace from turmoil, full from empty. It’s supposed to be that way with our spiritual practice as well. Creating light from dark is what the gospel intends to do in all of us. 

But we so easily entangle ourselves in all that is quick, convenient, or potentially euphoric. We shelf the best stuff for the fast stuff. It robs us of what our creative and spiritual selves want to share, with us, and with the world.

My interest in Cameron’s book has been piqued for many years now, but only got taken off the book shelf recently. Procrastinator you ask? Um, hell yeah! Nevertheless, we’re there now and she is guiding me into my own well by means of writing as meditation. It remains my intention to write my book from this well. 

But, I gotta find it first, relearn how to lower the bucket, and not be afraid to see what comes up. So, here goes. These were my Morning Pages from today, Friday, June 30th. Hopefully they find you whole and happy.

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My typical morning spot. It totally works.

Morning has again crept with typical stealth onto the broad, brown land. This is a hopeful time of day for me. It’s as though I’ve been granted another twenty-four hour run at this thing. Life may have been a jolly cock-up yesterday, but morning comes again and says “Fuck it. Let’s give this another go, shall we?”

For someone like me, prone to shadow, turbulence, and chaos, this comes as welcome invitation indeed. The equally broad landscape of my life needs this daily reimagining. They are little reawakenings as it were to all the yummy goodness just below the surface of things.

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Typical of our regional semi-arid hills and dales

In this desert, although appearing brown and dusty dry on the outside, there holds within it all the possibilities of the world’s first day. If God can step back, clap His/Her hands, and with a smile proclaim, “it is good,” then surely I can do the same.

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That should be a regular meditation for each new morning to which I have the good fortune to see. Step outside, listen, take a deep breath of its newness, and, together with my Creator proclaim, “it is good.” Perhaps with such an outlook, every day can be experienced for the next-chance-to-grow it really is.

Besides, if God could create something new every day and say these words at every one, then it behooves me to do the same. Even if I can’t quite get to that level of optimism, sometimes it is enough to say “well, I fucked up a lot less this time. That’s good, right?” The icing is to rest at the end with feet up, heart full, proverbial Gin and tonic in hand (well, tonic water for this problem drinker!)

What could be better?

One can hardly be surprised then to know that St. Augustine’s favourite passage of Scripture was the creation narrative. He elucidates upon it in depth in his Confessions in a way only a genius philosopher can (beautifully unintelligible). He sees things in the creation not readily available to mere mortals like you or me. But, in my ongoing pursuit of contemplative creativity, there is here a wonderful challenge; a holy dare.

I have before me then a challenge to see, truly see, what lies right in front of me. Where I see a sparrow, God sees the perpetual renewal of all things. Where I see a rose, God sees something magnificent from humble beginnings. Where I hear a crow caw, God hears a virtuoso in training. I taste dirty water, God tastes the banquet, spread out with delights borne of its nourishing goodness.

In the brooding darkness that so often smothers me, a good long look at a morning like this one acts as reminder that it is truer than me. It is the darkness that is askew. The brilliance, colour, and cacophony of sound is the real. And it is before me now, insistently mocking all sadness and doubt.

If God is so capable of seeing perfection in the imperfections and incoherence of each new day, then that is what I am called to see. What we are all welcomed into.

So then, step outside with me, stretch, yawn, blink, breathe in deeply, and stare into the day. Then, together, with He/She who built it, say…it is good.

Peace, dear souls

 

 

Life from a restaurant window

Perfectly groomed bushes line the windows looking out onto a courtyard greener, damper and more alive than I’ve seen since moving to Yakima seven years ago. A giant kiln-shaped fireplace centered in the garden sits quiet and still awaiting the passing of the rain and the arrival of others to warm themselves in its heat. KilnI chuckle at the closed table umbrellas standing tall and upright like stoic ladies in green, puffy skirts. Their task here is to keep one dry from the reliable Portland rain. The Yakima umbrella, although rare, acts as a glorified sunhat and is seldom used anyway. There they curse rain. Here, they wait for sun (if indeed they know what that is).

How I have missed the instant plunge into the deeper regions of my psyche, specifically the creative mystic part such an environment always brings. Like these condensation droplets adorning the windows through which I am looking, words almost instantly form in my mind. I need only mop them up and squeeze them onto the thirsty page.

Green lady umbrellasThere are many gifts that come to us from favorite places – both geographic location and the more unnameable geography of soul – suitable to our most natural selves. What has been lacking for me in the dusty, brown, overly hot setting of Yakima has been met in a stable plateau upon which to take a good, long and slow look in every direction. With my feet sunk in a little more deeply into the dusty soil of the Yakima Valley, I’ve known a certain freedom from which to venture into other, hitherto unexplored regions in my own soul. Places in the humility of obscurity, the predictability of nothingness, the garden of faithfulness and the simple, daily routines of life.

From these places, previously visited only briefly with my face pressed up against the glass, I have seen many things. God has pulled me up from the luscious, subterranean waters of my deepest yearnings to the street where the people are. They are those who populate my days and need the nourishment I myself have been given. I am reintroducing myself to the world, seeing familiar and beloved faces again as if for the first time. Ironically, in them, I am finding myself and, even more significantly, I am seeing Jesus. God is equally present above the bald, treeless ground as below it in the dark, thin places where nutrients abound but is largely unpopulated.

Here and now converge more readily as I release the tightly held things I believed indispensable to my wholeness. Slowly, God is revealing to my spirit just how present God is in such places – places formerly reprehensible and ugly. God is nesting more intricately in me. I see God more now and that is setting me free from expectations and demands and leading me to the joys of union, home, and peace…anywhere.

It is the greatest gift I could receive on this, the day of my fiftieth birthday.