I was driving on the service drive today and happened to glance up at the sky. Smudged on a deep blue backdrop, the clouds appeared as if white chalk had been added and softened with a finger. I thought to myself, “What kind of artistry is this?”
When I was young, there was an artist on television, Jon Nagy, who worked with pastels. I was so entranced with his work that for my birthday, I asked for a set of multi-colored pastels and paper that was 55% rag content. I then attempted to make pictures like he did. Mine never came close to his, but it was the smudging that I liked the best, melding something with sharp lines into soft, dream-like edges, blending two colors that overlapped. An artist’s smudge stick came with the set, but I preferred to use my finger. It just seemed more creative and had a more human touch.
Someone asked me recently, “How do you write?" I told him, “First, there has to be a spark--something that has touched me deep within. Then, I sit down at my desk with the background music of Liquid Mind, and I begin to draft some thoughts. These, of course, are usually edited, but not always.” There is also something that takes place in my mind. I go to a different space. This is where the smudging takes place. My surroundings begin to fade and my focus sharpens and circles a metaphor or a thought. I experience an expansiveness that I don’t usually feel when I am centered on tasks. And then the magic happens. The creativity flows, and I am lifted into that space. I find it exhilarating and healing. I sometimes wonder if this is what God experienced when he created the world. Since we are co-creators with God, we have His DNA embedded into us. God continues his creating action through us. What a gift!
All around us, things can take on a sharpness, a distinguishing of one thing from another. Time slots. Task lists. Meetings with a beginning and an end. Responses to emails. Recipes with its list of ingredients. Early morning habits where one follows another until we are ready for the day. Keeping commitments. Answering questions. Researching. Forming opinions based on what we read or experience. We then find ourselves beginning to lose our grip (just a little) on the sharpness. Smudging has begun. Perception changes; perspective shifts. Things and ideas take on a muted appearance. We begin to enter the realm of the spirit, the sometimes befuddling space of emotions. And then, if time and space allows, we move from smudging to creating…a free flow of ideas, thoughts, blending into something beautiful. We have the freedom to explore and experiment.
It may feel a bit like a definite intention to sort through the “stuff” of years in filing cabinets and boxes and then find ourselves on the floor looking at things that we conquered (or failed to conquer) years ago. We tend to keep the memories of the conquering, not the failing! We then see, in our mind’s eye, the grandfather who brought orange circus peanuts to us on every visit. Our grip on the sharpness fades into the realm of smudging and memories that evoke emotions and hopefully, healing. We then enter a reintegration phase that brings us back to the gray filing cabinet and the realization that we spent two hours in memoryland! Perhaps we leave that land inspired to create and share. That would be a real bonus!
How do we limit this gift of smudging in us? We limit our lives to mindless and heartless tasks. We try to fill every moment with something stimulating. We become addicted to sports and binge watching. We try to fill the space within instead of allowing the space to reach out beyond ourselves into something to share with the world.
How can we cultivate this expansiveness? We can begin by noticing--visually, sounds, tastes, smells, movement. It begins on a sensual level. The physical level. And then it begins to move, ever so slightly, on a spiritual level. We actually get to experience the world at its heart. We begin to experience our own hearts. Then what we experience reaches beyond us to communicating to others.
There are times when this kind of creation resides for the sake of ourselves, and we privately revel in its ability to lift us beyond the mundane. Perhaps it is not always to be shared. At other times, we are able to connect at a soul level with another human being. This kind of connection brings life and joy to both of us. Another gift!
Is there something that brings healing into your life, something that penetrates the daily tasks and breathes new life into you? How do you create? How do you share in God’s great creativity? Is it with colors, sounds, movement, texture, sculpting or words? Or is it with something else? Where does this take you? Does it enlarge your spirit?
Seeing the clouds today began a chain of thoughts and feelings that took me to a different space, even as I drove. What is it that will begin the smudging within you?