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Take A Picture With Your Mind

In Creative Living, Nature on November 8, 2015 at 1:46 pm

By Heila Rogers

tulips

Photo by Deborah Briggs

My mom was a preschool, kindergarten or first grade teacher for years. When little kids would get wiggly while waiting in line for the bathrooms or lunch, she would tell them, “Okay boys and girls, I want you to listen. Put an elephant in your mind.” They’d all grow quiet and gape with their minds busy. She’d wait a moment, then say, “Now, make it pink!” And so on.

It’s no wonder I grew up having a big imagination. She was also our full-time mom/teacher for even more years.

I also remember her using the phrase above, when we were on one of many driving trips as a family.

We didn’t grow up with cell phones or personal cameras. (I remember my first insta-matic camera. It was the kind with detachable cube flashbulbs. Only 12 photos per roll of film.)

So if our film ran out or we didn’t have a camera, and were looking at something especially beautiful, something that we wanted to remember, my mom would say:

“Take a picture with your mind!”

And we would.

We’d gaze and notice detail. We’d commit to memory smells, colors and textures.

We’d let the beauty … speak to us.

Our traveling, viewing experience was enriched by this heightened interaction with our surroundings.

Don’t get me wrong, I love photos, email, and online sharing, etc. too.

But this thrill of interaction, of absorbing, might be the reason folks seem to be swinging back more toward “analog” nowadays.

Laurel - snowdonia

Snowdonia/ Photo by Laurel Greszler

To be able to touch, smell, and really BE in a place (and with people), instead of with our noses attached to screens too much while the world goes on around us, without us.

Not only can we connect with others more, when we look around more closely, but we feel more connected to beautiful scenery or something interesting in a museum. A pile of autumn leaves on the ground can enrich our spirit somehow.

Thanks, Mom.

 

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A Fan-tastic Day

In Art, Making on November 8, 2015 at 1:46 pm

By Jacqueline Peveto

I am a cosplayer. My tools are grommets, super glue, papier-mâché and anything else that might not fit into your average conception of a sewing kit. I spend hours hunching over fabric, ripping out miles of seams, and brainstorming ways to defy physics. When I step onto the floor of the convention hall, I wear a disguise that tells everyone exactly who I am.

jackie comic con

Photo by Ariane Peveto

The word cosplay, a portmanteau of “costume” and “play,” is much more than a Halloween costume or dressing up. When someone builds a cosplay and wears it, it speaks to who she is, what kind of person she wants to be. A cosplayer’s job is to become a character. To put on not only that character’s clothes, but also mannerisms and demeanor.

There is a huge difference between buying a bagged costume and creating a functioning set of angel wings using a mad-scientist fusion of PVC pipe and crepe, between making do with available sizes and getting pricked so many times with a needle that the outfit could be a blood relative.

Through design, construction, and ultimately wearing the outfit, cosplay is a process of becoming.

I have made several costumes and competed many times, but nothing stretched my abilities as much as when I decided to become a Kyoshi warrior with my sister and a friend. The Kyoshi warriors are a band of fighters from the television show Avatar: The Last Airbender. They dress in emerald tones of the Earth Kingdom, don samurai-like armor and brandish fighting fans to serve and protect. They are skilled fighters, known and respected throughout their world as peacekeepers. They are defined by their devotion to honor, justice — and above all: no boys allowed.

In the show there are many iconic characters, but the Kyoshi warriors are some of the best: not only do they look awesome wielding their dual fans but they are also solid characters that help the protagonists in their journey.

As with any occasion where dress is stressed, there are certain expectations of female cosplayers, and not all of them are positive. Comic books, television shows, and other media have long set forward a standard of tight, unrealistic, or revealing clothing, as well as the “ideal” thin and trim body type for women. Because of this, female cosplayers often have to deal with unwanted attention and even harassment based on how they choose to dress.

It’s because of this that the slogan “Cosplay is not Consent” has recently become a loud voice in convention hallways, fighting the idea that female cosplayers have to accept inappropriate behavior because of what they’ve decided to wear. Sadly, at the convention, a place that should be a nonstop celebration of creativity, not everyone holds the same respect for his or her fellow cosplayer.

The Kyoshi warriors and their long skirts, robes, and armor certainly don’t fit into the mold of pinup models, but that made it all the more important to me that we do our very best to represent these characters well.

We were excited to embark upon this project. Each member of the Kyoshi warriors has variations to her uniform—a design on the headband, a particular hairstyle—that make her unique, so it was easy for each of us to create our own warrior.

Conceptually the outfit was simple, but conversion from two-dimensional animation to three-dimensional reality presented a few hurdles. After running our hands over every bolt of fabric in every fabric store in town, we decided on colors, and guesstimated how much we might need. Patterns were cannibalized and adapted to create the right look for the long, full skirts and robes that would be worn under the armor. For that, we cut out craft foam and covered it with faux leather, overlapping several pieces to make panels. We made molds for round seals that would be superglued to the gauntlets and painted them gold. For the headbands, we treated craft foam with several layers of watered-down craft glue to make it stiff and then buffed gold paint onto the designs.

kiyoshi

Photo by dmgice

These costumes went through several renditions after being tested at a few conventions. We made revisions so that the armor took on the more fitted, feminine shape that the show has, and probably most importantly, so we could actually sit down while wearing the outfit.

Despite some cosmetic changes, our cosplay made an impact the first day it was worn. People noticed us the moment we stepped out of the elevator and we couldn’t move for ten minutes while our picture was taken by over fifty people. Everywhere we went, someone asked for a picture. Our fighting fans, made for performances, create a powerful snap when opened with a sharp flick of the wrist. Every time we stopped to pose, fans snapping open in unison, the sound would call to people all over the convention. Our presence was certainly noticed! We could hardly walk anywhere without being stopped for a photo, and as we started to move again, a girl in cat ears or a cosplay Spiderman would hold up a finger, international convention language meaning “Okay if I take one more?”

best in show

Photo by Brittany Cunningham

As we moved through the halls, people responded to us. They straightened up and changed conversations, getting their act together while the Kyoshi warriors were on the scene. This is the magic of cosplay—when you bring something fictional into the world and pour yourself into it, people cannot help but react as if it’s real. Even though I knew I was just a simple college student, as people instinctively moved aside or respectfully made way, I felt like a true enforcer of justice.

It was not until Denver Comic Con 2015 that we decided to compete with this cosplay. Costume judging and stage performance—or craftsmanship and the masquerade as cosplayers call them—are an essential part of a convention, and this year, we wanted to see how our work would stand up to the judges’ criteria. We finished our third revision days before my sister and I drove up to Denver with a stuffed garment bag, and a box filled with gauntlets, headbands, and tabi boots.

Getting dressed in the costume is a serious undertaking. The face paint is by far the longest part of the process. After gluing our eyebrows down with spirit gum and wax, we applied white makeup, with red and black accents around our eyes. It takes at least one other person to help put on the armor, strapping on the gauntlets, threading and tying off the armor laces, and fastening the shoulder pieces.

cosplay makeup

Photo by Jackie Peveto

That afternoon, by the time the last headband was tied on, we were almost late for our craftsmanship judging timeslot. We ran through the hotel, across the street and into the convention center. We darted through the crowds of Marios, ninjas, princesses, and superheroes on a mission, our faces set. People turned as we blew by, nudging their neighbors, squealing with delight, whispering, “Kyoshi warriors!” I couldn’t help but smile. We were being recognized again.

Judging as a rule, is always running late, so we had a minute to pull ourselves together before we were ushered inside. Three judges sat behind a long table. One of them, a lady in a classic Batgirl costume, said, “You guys look great!”

The other two were more reserved. They asked us a lot of questions about the process of making the outfits, what the armor was made of, how long it took to make them. As they looked at the sample pictures we provided on a tablet, we explained our creative decisions—choosing sage and forest green instead of jewel tones, crafting the armor with stamped brown leather to fit better with the organic colors of the Earth Kingdom, etc. They nodded through our explanations and asked to look at our hems and our fans.

They thanked us for coming in and as we left, one of the judges asked if we had a walk-on performance in the masquerade. We told her we did and she answered, “If you didn’t, I’d say go make something up right now.” The other two judges laughed and agreed.

Later, we sat in the green room while the masquerade organizers got everyone in order. We got to talk with a lot of the other competitors and ask them about their cosplays. One group had six people, dressed in elegant Viking-inspired outfits—the young woman seated near us explained that she had just been married and this was their wedding party. I got to talk with a corpse bride who was competing for the first time.

The masquerade is a different animal than craftsmanship. It is one thing to construct an outfit, build a suit of mech armor or craft dragon wings; it is another to get up on a stage in front of hundreds of people and convince them what they are seeing is real. Every movement and gesture will be under scrutiny by hundreds of devoted fans. The cosplayer selects music to play during her three minutes of performance. There might be a funny skit with exaggerated gestures, an interpretive dance, a gymnastic routine, or something else completely. The audience never knows what will come next.

Backstage we could see the silhouettes of the performers on the thin white scrim that separated us, shadows of what was to come. From the noise of the crowd, we could tell the room was massive and packed. At last, the three of us mounted the stairs and walked out from stage right as the MC announced the Kyoshi warriors.

Through the glare of stage lights and nerves, I could see hundreds of people stretching away out into the dark. They were cheering so loud, I barely realized our music had started without us.

We caught up with our choreography, which was a martial arts kata (training exercise routine) with fan forms put to music. Over the music, we’d put narration of our own voices.

“We fight for our people.” My voice sounded strange as it fell over the crowd.

“We fight for justice.” My friend executed a perfect fan form.

“We fight to protect this land.” My sister gracefully turned.

Together, we stood at attention. “And we fight,” we said in unison, “like girls.”

At that, we snapped open our six fans like an explosion of gold fireworks, and the roar of the crowd was deafening.

I don’t remember the rest of the performance. Suddenly, we were finishing with a bow and I looked up at the hundreds of people who couldn’t clap hard enough. Shakily, I crossed the stage to the stairs and we walked to our chairs at the back of the room.

kiyoshi perform

Photo by Cory Newman

During the intermission, so many people came up to us. Most of them were girls or young women, coming to say how much they enjoyed our performance.

“It was so cool! The thing you do with the fans,” one lady said, shaking her head.

“So awesome,” one young man said, throwing two thumbs up.

Several competitors told us the same, and because of the overall high level of dedication and creativity we’d witnessed, that was a high compliment.

Another woman stopped us to ask, “Have you taken martial arts?” She said that our performance was the first one featuring martial arts that didn’t make her wince.

“If you don’t win,” said one girl, “I’ll throw up.”

I couldn’t believe how many people talked to us. They kept saying how incredible it was. Some even looked teary. Several said they had been moved by what we had done.

Perhaps we surprised them.

As we talked with our fellow con goers I was beaming from ear to ear, despite knowing it was probably wrecking havoc on my face paint. After hearing what they all had to say, it didn’t matter if we won anything. Those compliments were more than enough.

There were several awards given for judge’s favorites, and special awards for different categories. We had seen the competition and there were so many incredible outfits, detailed cosplays, and thoughtful performances. I agreed with everyone who won craftsmanship or performance in their category, and clapped as loudly as anyone for the novice couple who wowed us with their fantastic Aquaman and Mera cosplay. No one could believe it was their first competition.

Our threesome competed at the intermediate level, which had the most contestants. The craftsmanship and performance awards in our category went to other well-deserving cosplayers. When the judges began describing the best group cosplay, I thought they might be talking about us, but that award went to the group ahead of us that did an acrobatic display. Last but not least was Best in Show—the award given for the best craftsmanship and performance. The spokesperson for the judges, the lady in the classic Batgirl costume, started talking about how impressed they had been by the choices made by this group, the quality of the work, and then an amazing stage performance.

“I think no one is surprised,” she said, looking out at the crowd.

The Kyoshi warriors won Best in Show!

kiyoshi costumes

Photo by Mike Goodell

The screaming around me was so loud that it ceased being sound at all. Bewildered and awed, we made our way up to the stage. The judge held out the trophy and being the closest, I took it without believing what I was doing. My compatriots were loaded down with our bags of posters, books, and other convention loot. We bowed, thankful to the audience, the judges, and for such an incredible experience. The cheering was so loud my ears rang.

To this day I still can’t believe that we won, but the trophy is here sitting on my desk. I’m honored to be part of a corps of creative engineers who come away from reading books, watching movies, and playing games thinking, “How can I make that outfit?”

I am still overwhelmed by the positive response we got. We showed them what we could do with our tools, our eyelets, lacing and craft foam, our imagination, time and passion. Even people who didn’t know what we were, recognized something in how we took the floor.

Three young women, three warriors, made a difference to so many people.

 

Editor’s Note: The 2015 Denver Comic Con received a tidal wave of negative media and social media attention because of a “Women in Comics” panel taking place, with no women on it. In contrast to that spin coverage, started from one small, though important event oversight (there were over 400 panels during the 3-day convention), this story covers a bigger part of the gathering. 

As well the excellent article below gives a balanced perspective of the convention from one of its organizers, a long-time woman in comics:

 http://www.bleedingcool.com/2015/05/28/why-the-women-in-comics-flashpanel-was-about-us-and-not-dcc-full-audio/

 I believe the strong feelings and reactions to this issue of women in comics reflects its critical importance. Accurate, honorable and creative representation of women and all people should in fact generate widespread and thorough discussion. 

 

Art, A Black Hole for Emotion

In Art on November 8, 2015 at 1:45 pm

By Daniel Rogers

This article was re-posted with permission from patienceandtime blog.

I recently realized that art is time. Often you hear the question: “How is that art?” Or the more steadfast, “That isn’t art.” Art is simply something that grasps time. Art freezes an emotion, a feeling. Art captures an element of an artist’s mind and expresses it in a way that is endless. Art must first be formed in your mind. You must incorporate inspiration as well as originality in order to create something new that has never been seen, but has been felt.

When your idea is formed you begin. You form your art without any regard for time. You never settle for something that will simply suffice, it must be perfect. You manipulate components until your art emerges. Your original idea is gone and your art is present. At this point you are exhausted, the excitement that an idea brings is gone. Now you are content, satisfied.

Next, you share your art, release it. Some choose to keep their art private, yet all artists want their art appreciated. Others now see your art. They are drawn in, they see beyond the instant, they see the work, the expression. The more they look, the more they can see and feel. The art inspires their mind to interpret. To them the art is new, it expresses unique feelings and memories to them alone.

Some will ignore your art, some will call it fake. They are not worth time. You create art to create time. A sort of black hole for emotion. Art is selective, it chooses its admirers. Everything is not art, but everything is art to someone. If you spend time with art that you hate, you’ll love it. It’s all about time — that’s what art is. Leo Tolstoy said: “The two most most powerful warriors are patience and time.” This is art.

Just a thought.

 

The author’s YouTube channel.

Interpretation

In Art, Censorship on February 5, 2015 at 9:27 pm

By Heila Rogers

Banned books week at the end of September got me thinking.

Do we get to say — to pronounce judgment on — what something we read, see, or hear means?

“It’s a matter of interpretation,” people say — which seems to mean that we get to decide.

For instance, someone could say that the classic children’s book Charlotte’s Web is about a selfish young girl who didn’t obey her parents. Someone could say that the story is about when she and some animals conspire to rob a farmer, who is in fact her own uncle. This band of “no-accounts” then proceed to undertake various deceitful methods to defraud the agriculturist of a pig.

But ~ is this what that book is actually about?! How do we tell?

Well reading the book for a start, is a good way to begin to examine what it means.

But even that doesn’t always work.

A reader can have such set-in-stone paradigm in their head the whole time that they’re examining words, that they won’t be able to see beyond that set perspective.

MG2

Photo by Mary Gregory

What about the author’s or artist’s intent?

Can we tell what something means, by examining that?

E.B. White, the author of Charlotte’s Web, was thought to have written the book in order to imagine something in fiction: that he’d saved a pig that he wasn’t able to save in real life. He wrote about this in Death of a Pig in 1948, before he wrote Charlotte’s Web four years later.

When asked what the book was about though, White said the following:

I haven’t told why I wrote the book, but I haven’t told you why I sneeze, either. A book is a sneeze.”

feather

Photo by Rachel Elizabeth White

The truth is probably complicated.

Writing or creating are never straightforward endeavors. There’s something mysterious about the process, something unknown even to the author, or actor,

painter, sculptor,

filmmaker,

gardener, baker (what will happen when I combine these ingredients?),

or relationship forger…

There isn’t really a “why” sometimes when creating, there’s just an “it” – the end result.

Yet there are certainly motivations, experiences, questions and such that drive us to explore answers by creating, and in the creation itself.

Which I would hazard to say is always beyond us in some way. The creation itself is separate from us.

MG1

Photo by Mary Gregory

Back to books.

So, we can examine and ask questions of the author to explore a book’s meaning.

We can read and look with an open heart, on our own.

We can also look to others – we can explore commentary, scholarly opinion, literary analysis, etc.

Asking, “What do they say it says?”

We can analyze. Using our brains, our experience and our observational skills, and what we know emotionally to ring true.

Along with using some of the aforementioned methods of literary analysis, we can actually look at the words, sentences, and relationships between characters and find truth.

Will this truth be the same for everyone? To some extent, yes. Because the nature of truth itself is that it is stable, unchanging.

There is also the concept of the blind men and the elephant. Each man felt different parts of the creature and thus described it as being very, very different. But it was truly an elephant – all the parts taken together.

Are honesty and truth important? I mean, really?

Lies warp and destroy. Even when we think they won’t; even when we think they’ll be good and helpful, they aren’t.

The fact is, readers, lookers and listeners will each gain something unique from a piece of art (or even a conversation).

Check out these quotes about truth by famous artists:

Nothing is less real than realism. Details are confusing. It is only by selection, by elimination, by emphasis, that we get at the real meaning of things. (Georgia O’Keeffe)

A lie would have no sense unless the truth were felt as dangerous. (Alfred Adler)

A truth that’s told with bad intent / Beats all the lies you can invent. (William Blake)

There is such a thing as intentionally manipulating others through deception, however.

We might feel justified in this; we might feel that it’s for a good reason. We might feel we’re right. But the fact is, seeking to control others is wrong. Why? Because we people are too limited for that kind of power.

We’re not good enough, smart enough, or big enough for it. It ends up hurting ourselves and others.

I believe we need to yield to the fact of this weakness and acknowledge it, while also remaining aware of our abilities, gifts and value.

MG6

Photo by Mary Gregory

“The truth will set you free.” But will it?

The truth is, truth can still be found. Even among lies.

But does the truth care if we don’t believe in it? Is it still the truth, regardless?

What is truth?

We can’t just pick something and say, “this or that is it;” so we instead have to search and examine and discard and keep, and keep looking, until things click or make sense; until they “feel right.”

We have to ask others if our thinking is off, if we’re missing something. Asking, “What about this?”

We have to be okay with not knowing everything. We have to be okay with being too small to pronounce for everyone else’s (or our own) life what to do, how to be, or what is right all the time. This is where God comes in.

We have to know that we are not… God.

Truth is worth it. It’s another name for Beauty.

It takes vulnerability and honesty to search for it.

So, three cheers for Charlotte, spinning her web for her babies, and trusting Wilbur to help her.

Here’s to courage and honesty and friendship. Different aspects of the truth.

 

Photo by Mary Gregory

Photo by Mary Gregory

Mary Gregory Studio

http://chronicle.com/article/The-Nature-of-EB-White/127630/

Being the Banana

In Creative Living on February 5, 2015 at 9:15 pm

By Angela Nicolini

People tell themselves all sorts of reasons why they shouldn’t embrace their creative sides. “I don’t have time to paint or write.” “I’m too old to try something new.” But the biggest excuse seems to be, “I could never produce a true work of art.” But who gets to decide what art is? If it brings enjoyment to your life and the lives of others, isn’t any attempt at creativity worthwhile?

I’ve thought for a long time that I want to be a writer. I love to put pen to paper. And having lived a well-traveled and curious life, I have many anecdotes and facts to include in my stories.

I spoke three languages by the age of five. (Four languages if you include the ‘twin talk’ my sister and I made up.) I’ve had the good fortune of living in such fabulous countries as Italy, Germany, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom. I’ve traveled by plane, train, hot air balloon, riverboat, and even by camel in these exotic places, and many more.

Photo by Tammy Werner Zimbabwe

Photo by Tammy Werner
Zimbabwe

My aspiration is to write a fictional book for spiritual people who are not necessarily religious. I have lofty goals. My dream is for this book to be a shining beacon for all who read it. Then I’ll get to go on press tours and talk about my book. And having it made into a movie would be a fabulous cherry on top!

But several things stop me from attaining my goal. Mostly it’s the anticipation of the incredibly hard work involved, if I’m completely honest. It can take three years or more to write a novel. And I’ve heard that the endless revisions are the hardest part. My personality doesn’t respond well to sitting alone for hours at a time, working away at my computer. I also waste a lot of time with a running dialogue in my head: Is this a dream I want to follow because I really love writing, or simply because I want to feed my ego?

When I feel inclined to beat myself up over this world-changing book that has yet to materialize, I remind myself of a talk given by a wonderful Hindu speaker who came to my small, West Texas town several years ago.

The speaker’s message was simple: We are all part of God. And God is inside each of us. Our job as humans is merely to learn as much as we can about ourselves, and to strive to be our best selves. And in doing so, we will get closer to God.

He went on to say that we can change the world using this same strategy, and he illustrated his lesson in the most beautiful way. He explained that ripe bananas emit chemicals that make nearby fruits ripen faster. “If you have green bananas in your refrigerator, and you place them in a drawer with a ripe banana, they will ripen faster. Our job in life is simply to be that ripe banana for those around us.”

I believe the message he was giving is that by recognizing our true nature, embracing ourselves, and honoring those around us, we are emitting ‘goodness’ that those around us can soak up. And they, in turn, will also emit good vibes. And so on.

Photo by Mary Gregory West Texas

Photo by Mary Gregory
West Texas

This took all of the pressure off me to try to change the world in one, singular way. Instead, I decided to take a few extra seconds each day to smile at whomever served me at restaurants. I made an effort to ask the person ringing up my groceries how their day was going. If my friend was telling me about her bad day, I listened with my whole heart, instead of planning what I was going to say next in response. And I decided to make a deep, concerted effort to look at myself with open eyes.

Here’s the thing… after I embraced this new way of thinking, I started getting many opportunities to write in a way that actually fit my personality! Three years ago, I was offered a job teaching a class at a local university. While writing a curriculum for an entire semester was admittedly tedious, it only took one summer to do so. And each semester afterward has been easier than the one before. The most rewarding part was getting to include all of those fascinating facts and stories I’d collected throughout my life, to make the lectures more interesting.

Because of my new contacts at the university, I’ve also had several opportunities to give one-time guest lectures. I get to use ‘both sides’ of my brain to create presentations that offer the students facts, as well as fun.

I have a plethora of stories to draw on when composing my talks.

From my days as a student at an all-girls’ Catholic boarding school,

… to peeking into one of the great Pyramids in Egypt,

… to staying in a tree house in Kenya, that lies on the path of an ancient elephant migratory route (the spot in fact, where Queen Elizabeth found out on her honeymoon that she was to ascend the throne following her father’s death)…

And here I am, writing this article for this fabulous blog thanks to meeting its creator at a local non-profit where we both volunteer.

Don’t get me wrong. I might still write my world-changing book someday. But if I don’t, I know I can still make a difference in this world in other ways that may appear smaller, but are just as important. In short, I’ve learned that we don’t have to pressure ourselves to create masterpieces of art, literature, or music in order to believe our lives are worthwhile. We just need to be the ripe bananas. The rest will take care of itself.

Photo by Laurel Greszler England

Photo by Laurel Greszler
England

Rest is Art

In Art on February 5, 2015 at 9:08 pm
Photo by Tammy Werner

Photo by Tammy Werner

In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous. – Aristotle

By Heila Rogers

How does creativity fit into life?

Do we need “the arts” as a part of life — or are they a waste of time?

I’m not the only one around lately who has been re-defining (or getting back to the roots of) creative pursuits — as being beyond the usual writing, drawing, acting or dancing — to also include, “household arts,” or “the art of the deal,” for example (that’s something I’d like to explore about!).

Anyway, humans are artists. So whatever we do can be done artistically…

It’s interesting to examine different historical people groups, and the role of traditional artistic pursuits like theatre, painting and music in their culture – and how these things paralleled or were involved with the rise and fall of different civilizations.

I was particularly interested to see what ancient and enduring texts had to say about the subject of creativity so I did a word search in an online Bible for, “creativity” and didn’t come up with much. Then I tried searching for different variations of the word.

In the process of this searching, I’d forgotten about the Creation Story itself, as it’s called.

THE very first words of the whole collection of books begins:

In the beginning, God created…” is Genesis 1:1

And then for several more chapters it’s all about Creation. You remember: the land and the water, the moon and the stars, the animals, the plants… “Let there be Light…etc.”

Somewhat surprisingly, I found rest a part of that first story of creation, too.

On the seventh day of creating, God said, “It is good” and rested. I really thought the seventh day was when the creating was finished. But it turns out the seventh day and the resting were on-going, integral parts of the whole.

It’s not like all the action happens during the physical-making-and-building parts of something. An awful lot happens during the rest periods too.

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.

— John Lubbock (English Biologist and Politician, 1834-1913)

Photo by Mary Gregory

Photo by Mary Gregory

Artists speak about a kind of resting — which is IN the act of creating:

Painting is a meditation that allows me to process the awe I feel for life and offer some expression of beauty to honor that.Linda Saccoccio

I find working with glass meditative, almost therapeutic, I can leave the world behind and focus… the simplicity of form, the drama of rich, intense colour, the joy of challenge, and the challenge of endurance. The piece, when it’s over, is not what is made, but how it’s made.Andrew Kuntz

It’s well-known that artists, writers, musicians, and well — people, have some of their best ideas when doing tasks like ironing, taking long walks, sitting on a park bench watching birds or children play, or washing dishes.

Some of those things are technically active but while we’re doing them, the mind rests in a certain way (if we let it). When doing those kinds of repetitive motions or tasks, our minds can generate some fantastic ideas; or problems can get figured out.

People still tend to define rest as being physically still, or even as sleeping.

Or people think it means clearing the mind.  Which is partly what happens when we do the above kinds of things — our mind empties out in a certain way.

So ~ physical, mental, spiritual are all connected…

Is rest defined as being free from worry?

In that case it’s got to involve putting that worry somewhere else, or onto someone else.

That’s why we often attempt numbness with TV, Netflix, Facebook, alcohol, social engagements, books, food or exercise. This is not an exhaustive list. We’re seeking rest. A break from our worries or our sense of responsibility.

All of these things can be good of course, but we can misuse them into distractions that steal our time from just Being.

How to do that tricky “just BEING” though?

Meditation or contemplation involves thinking about something to focus our mind.

We can picture a mountain lake, or a field of wildflowers. Or for some people, maybe imagining being underwater in the ocean is soothing and relaxing.

Photo by Tammy Werner African Church

Photo by Tammy Werner
African Church

This resting and ‘just being’ can be so scary though.

If we stop moving, who are we?

If we’re not what we do, who are we?

These quiet, peaceful times are the times though when it’s possible to hear God’s voice saying, “I love you.” When we can sense direction for our lives.

When we can picture ourselves opening our hands and letting go of every anxiety.

We can only do this I think though, when we know and trust Whom we’re giving these burdens to.

Just like a good friend who has been there for us through our most difficult times, if we understand God as our Friend we can rest in the presence of that Friend.

We can rest in the presence of someone who is still our friend and accepts us, even when we do stupid or embarrassing stuff. The kind of friend who might even perhaps laugh at us, but with affection; never harshly, or with mocking or meanness.

A friend is someone I can tell my worries to, someone I allow to hug me close. A friend is someone who knows me well enough to know when I need a hug, and when I need a laugh instead.

I don’t need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better. Plutarch

I picture God’s warm lap sometimes too. I imagine God as a loving, caring, nurturing and protective parent.

Why can’t a parent be defined as a friend also?

This concept and awareness can generate a deep and wide rest within.

From there in that safe, warm place I grow and fly ….. and create.

I recently pictured God as a loving, affectionate, fun  Mother & Father  swinging me in between them like a little child. I was holding onto both of their hands.

I rested in being loved.

I felt a sensation of flight.

Photo by Tammy Werner

Photo by Tammy Werner

 At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet. – Plato