Pulling It Off…Once Again

I was within twenty-four hours of pulling it off once again. But I’d also been telling friends and family for several months that I was working too hard. Then over a ten day period in mid-March I began to experience, one by one, a series of vague physical symptoms that had my doctor shrugging his shoulders and shaking his head. When I visited him yet again, I finally had enough symptoms converging that he could more confidently say that I had aseptic meningitis – a non-dangerous, non-contagious condition probably caused by a virus. And he said I better cancel whatever was on my dance card for the next couple of weeks. That included a speaking engagement for the Senior Saints Alive luncheon at noon, the final art workshop and art show at Cabrillo Village in the afternoon, and the final art workshop the next day at The Lighthouse. All of a sudden my working too hard came to an abrupt halt. Yet this illness turned out to be a grace filled opportunity to reevaluate that I was doing with my life and how to go about it.

 While talking with my spiritual director about this life crisis, she offered an image that continued to come to her of me sitting under a tree with people coming to me. Because I know her to be a woman of wisdom, I took her words to heart. Knowing that God most often communicates with me through images, I set about creating a painting of a woman sitting under a tree and was sure there would be something for me in the process.

 The image above is the mixed media acrylic collage I created. I am particularly drawn to the kneeling woman. Her out-stretched hands speak meaningfully to me. Their posture is of both giving to and receiving from those who come. The palm trees suggest a more spare oasis than I’d originally imagined in my mind. And there is no one else in sight. So what was I to make of this?

For much of the last ten years I’ve traveled with my work, oddly enough, much of that east of the Mississippi. Now I sense a call to stay closer to home. Out of this, with typical good humor, God has given me one of the desires of my heart – less schlepping. More significantly, I now use this painting as a filter for discerning what I’m to do. Does what I’m being invited to do fit the image of a woman sitting under a tree giving and receiving? 

One of the major ways I’ve fleshed that image out is to finally create a website and write this weekly blog about art, transformation and spirituality. Sitting in front of a computer writing and sharing art is my equivalent of sitting under a tree…giving and receiving. Close at home, I’m mostly limiting myself to the art workshops at The Lighthouse. What I’m receiving from these wonderful women is beyond compare.   Comments on the blog and emails from around the world are arriving in response to these courageous women engaging the arts. In the midst of a very difficult time in their lives, they are thrilled to know that they are making a difference and are an inspiration to others.

 The significance of no one in sight in my painting was a surprise to me. The Internet can be an amazing thing. When you post something it goes out into the Internet ether and you’re not completely sure who all you’re reaching. All I know for sure is the number of people who visit my website by checking the stats. From that information I also know the Internet is being used for a greater purpose. I’m not working as hard, and according to the website stats, I’m reaching after less than five months, at minimum, many more people in one week that I was in a year! Wow! Now that’s what I call an efficient, gracious God who is cleverly savvy about technology, and refining my vocational call. Just when I thought I was about to pull it off one more time, God pulling it off…once again.

Have you ever been stopped in your tracks and had to reevaluate your life?  Your vocation? Your call? If you were to paint a picture of what you’re called to do and be in your life right now, what would it look like? As you imagine this, are there any surprises?

I’ll look forward to your comments.



8 comments to Pulling It Off…Once Again

  • Deanna J Bowling

    Two pictures come into mind. One is more like a film clip. I am standing in a room with all the people I continue to try to care for gathered around me. I catch a glance of Jesus standing across from me, and at His cue, start walking one at a time those who I have been unsuccessfully trying to care for, across the room to Jesus, then turning around myself and returning to the other side of the room. This continues until all who I have brought with me are with Jesus. It is difficult for me to do so, but I have a sense of knowing that Jesus can do much better at caring for them than I can – He even told me so one time in prayer.

    The second film clip is of me walking up 3 steps into the kitchen of a motor home. Jesus is in the motor home already, leaning against a yellow kitchen counter. He is in conversation with some one else, but when ever I enter this setting, He always stops and speaks to me, addressing me by name and inquiring as to what I need. I always feel much better when I walking back down the steps

  • cynhia thomas

    hi lynne–ok, you’re motivating me to seek god in my situation. today, as i was waiting for my laundry to dry, i was reading lifeline, a publication of overeaters anonymous. the theme of the articles was meditation & seeking god’s will for our lives (step 11). i’ve moved to this retirement community & i think it was a huge mistake. i’m way too young (most residents sre in their 80’s & 90’s). i haven’t sought god’s guidance because i’ve been so depressed & caught up in my anger. the depression has lifted since i stopped eating flour. & tonight i’ve been collecting facts before i confront the marketing director. she told me there were several residents in their 50’s. there’s one–but she lives in assisted living & in quite impaired cognitively/socially. the other residents are very friendly, but i don’t feel part-of. so now what do i do? maybe god has a plan–for here or somewhere else. i’m starting the spiritual work tonight. cynthia

  • Hey Lynne,
    I was stopped in my tracks about 9 years ago when my wife was ready to leave me (at the prompting of a friend who had a dream). Stopped me cold. Then God stopped me when I was complaining about my situation and told me it was a question of obedience. My overwhelming sense was that God was calling me back to Sabbath. Long story short. Sabbath is now a regular discipline, my wife and I are celebrating 20 years of marriage next year and enjoying each other immensely, and my friend who had a dream became a mentor.

    What image do I have now? I like to think of someone praying in a homeless shelter and/or soup kitchen, but my prayers occur as I serve the food. The soup kitchen is in the middle of suburbia and the folks in the line include people from huge homes to those who live on the street. Thanks for the blog.


  • Amy Tuttle

    This has happened to me so often! I have had several experiences that have stopped me in my tracks and caused me to reevaluate myself. It seems that I always come to the same conclusion- take time for myself to discover healing and sink deeper into tranformative art. Yet, within weeks I find myself fully engaged in the life around me…often I get over-engaged and loose sense of myself in the needs that I try to meet for others,etc. I seldom choose solitude.

    My hubby and I have been talking about taking a Sabbath year after I graduate from Eastern U. I will graduate this time next year. We want to spend an entire year with the idea of Sabbath…

    This blog helps me to keep that in focus. There are so many things that I keep taking on and getting involved in. Perhaps if I visualize myself as meditating on The Creator and take small steps towards practicing Sabbath, I will be able to keep my eye on this great vision that me and Chris have.

  • Deanna J Bowling

    I had a vision yesterday during the worship service of having a baby sleeping in my lap, and the awareness that I had to be in a place of enough peace myself in order to allow the child to rest in peace. My thought was that this type of peace might be what it would take for my life to have a place to unfold ….

  • Barbara

    I had a dream a couple of nights ago in which some other people and I were demolishing a building – a wood and stone structure. It was large with many rooms, and it was old. When I awoke, I wondered’ “What was that all about? What am I destroying in my life?” As I let the imagery float around my brain I concluded that I wasn’t necessarily destroying anything; rather, I was deconstructing a part of my life that was over. I think it ties into my graduation in a week. I’m now polishing the three components of my capstone (notice “stone”), the final steps in a 3 1/2 year degree journey. Once these projects are turned in, the structure that being in school created in my life will be over.

  • melinda kornder

    Hi Lynn; As always, your blog reorganizes my thoughts and changes my perspective! We are returning from a 7 week motorhome trip and I am trying to “enjoy the moments” while holding back my desire to get home, get ready for Christmas, and prepare to move into a different house, all before New Years. As we drove thru the deep South, even in the poorest areas I noticed the sweetly decorated small churches in every community, along with billboards with encouraging bible verses…the focus was definitely on Jesus more than on “only 10 more days to shop”. I found myself imagining re-inventing my life in some small Southern town, away from shopping malls and crowds of shoppers. I remembered a bumper sticker from my feminist days: “Shopping- Pacifier for Powerlessness” and vow to seek more spiritual gifts and deepening faith. I realize that I need to move to a different place, but only in my heart and energy. Thank you, dear friend, for your reminders of how we can extend our “shelf life” ! Love, Melinda Kornder

  • Rosalind Tan

    Lynne, thanks for all the emails. I am encouraged each time I read your articles. It is fascinating how art can become a language for expression of the inner thoughts when words cannot come to mind. I use this approach when I teach my “Children and Spirituality” class. But what about people who are not inclined to draw or paint? How can we prompt them?

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