Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Me, the Child Jesus, and Birds

Yesterday I did a lot of dreaming. As you know, I'll be very busy for the next two weeks making the launch for my creative business, The Sunshine Abbey happen. The Virtual Monastery opens it's doors March 1, 2011, so save the date! Of course, I'm thinking of all the ways I can learn and grow, so I can share with you how you can have fun, artistic, and exquisitely meaningful experiences in prayer and worship using your innate creativity. Yes, YOU can be a creative monk! I spent one morning praying, praying, praying that God would lead me to training opportunities that would enhance this particular holy mission. And lovies, don'tcha know my Beloved did just that. I found the FABULOUS Chris Zydel, and I <3 her teacher training program. Friends, I am going. It's going to take several miracles, but there are plenty of those available.

So, now that I've been led to the program, I am praying (fervently) for the provision needed for me to attend. As I was praying yesterday, on the computer. I do that. LOL. A tweet came in and I looked at it. It was from a Catholic website that helped people connect to the saints. I checked it out. I'm always down with the saints getting on board and praying with me and for me. It's good to have friends in high places. As I scoured the lists of saints to read about, I came across some favs. There was my beloved Great Teresa, Teresa of Avila. Y'all know how cool we are. If I had a bff in heaven, besides Jesus, Teresa would be it. And Francis. And Dorothy, but that's another blog entry altogether. There was also St. Gerard, who mysteriously came to me a few years ago. When I say came to me, I don't mean I saw him in a vision or anything. I mean I had a burning desire to know who he was--I mean burning! I also saw Therese, the Little Flower, on the site. She's been very important to me ever since my trip to Africa. All three had something in common; they'd all had a intense love for the Child Jesus. In fact, Teresa of Avila made sure to give a statue of him to every house she founded.

For most of my spiritual life, I've been about the God/Man Jesus. He was Savior, friend, Advocate with the Father, and I know him very intimately now as my Beloved, my Good Spouse. A few Advent seasons back I really connected with him as the Holy Infant--oh, how I held that baby to my breast, and tried to nurture him. Adore him. But the Child Jesus, I didn't know much about him at all.

I love the story Teresa of Avila tells of the time she came across a child in her convent. This gorgeous tiny human was certain a mystery. She said to him, "I am Teresa of Jesus. Who are you?" And he said, "I am Jesus of Teresa." ::::SWOON:::: What a charmer, he.

I lay back in bed where I prayed and meditated that morning, and thought of the Child Jesus, in all his stunning beauty. I didn't think about what he would have looked like to St. Teresa. I didn't ponder long this child who appeared to St. Gerard, and played with him. They played together, friends. I wondered how he would look to me, and how he would pray/pray with me.

And that's all it takes most times, a little holy imagination. Sometimes I think, and this is purely experiential, that Jesus can hardly resist holy imagination. He enters into it, engages us, plays with us. There he was, a child--not my Good Spouse, not my kind Boyfriend--and he has been all that! He was a child, and he wanted to play with my glitter crayons! This sweet child had paint splatters on his clothing, and tiny dots of color dappling his face and curly brown hair. He smiles easily. This was the kind of kid who could get you in trouble with grown ups. I instantly loved him fiercely.

All week I've had a vision of myself, praying with a paintbrush in my hand. Yellow paint dripped from the tip. That was all I could see, however, until the Child Jesus burst into my heart and mind, tracking all kinds of color on his little bare feet.

Have you ever heard the story about Jesus and the clay birds? According to the non-canonical-but-still-a-great-collection-of-stories Infancy Gospel of Thomas, when Jesus was five years old he made a dozen sparrows out of clay, clapped his hands, and they came alive! I told you he could get you in trouble! And lovies, I'm in trouble.

Jesus and I have been crafting birds, almost the way I crafted them in the collage above. One little birdie is The Sunshine Abbey, another is the teacher training, another still is taking what I learn at the training and bringing it to women who need to recover their creative, authentic, most holy voices. Battered women. Raped women. Homeless women. Affluent women who have more money than they know what to do with, but no idea who they are or what they love, down deep, any more. Ordinary artist souls who forgot how divine creating is, and thought themselves out of their birthright: self-expression. Mercy, I had no idea when I had my throat blessed how much God would want to do with that freedom.

The Bird by Bird collage I made in 2009, a gift to Alison Strobel, has a quote by Anne Lamott from her fabulous book by the same title. The quotes was said by her father to her brother, who was battered by overwhelm regarding a school project about birds. "Look, honey," he said, "We are just going to take this bird by bird." And bird by bird I'm counting on the paint splattered, glitter crayon lovin', Child Jesus, who awakens all of our inner children, to clap his hands, or kiss those birdies we've fashioned and numbered together, and bring them to life.

Birdie number one is flapping its tail feathers, but it's still mostly clay as I blunder through creating a new blog and domain. But it will be fully alive and ready to take flight March 1st! The first session of the training starts a mere 21 days later. It's hard to see that bird as anything more than a fanciful notion trapped in my heart, but we believe in wings here, the kind that get you airborne. I believe! And once again, I'd like you to join me on the journey of flight. But more about that later. For now, your prayers and dreams and play with the Child Jesus yourself, are enough.

Thanking you for sharing life with me.

Much love,
PS, read a wonderful parable about Jesus and the Clay Birds here.


Kay said...

I love this!
The first novel I started, the reason I started writing, is a book that has Jesus in it, as a child. :) Someday, I'll finish it.

The Morrows said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alison Strobel Morrow said...

That collage is one of my most treasured possessions. It's propped up on my file trays on my desk, right next to my computer, so when I'm freaking out I can see it and remember to slow down and breathe and tackle one bird at a time. I am so thankful for your creative heart! <3

MaryAnn M said...

oh wow oh wow

im excited
seriously excited!!

Erin Wilson said...

Looking forward to seeing what is ahead for you :)
Love you.