Breath for the Bones Book Club: Thoughts on Chapter 7
Art is an odd thing to pursue. Most adults do not take the time to write or sculpt or sketch or paint; this is another one of those activities (like dreaming and using our imaginations) we “mature out of.”
So those of us who continue to pursue art as a profession or professional hobby are seen as the odd ducks of society. It takes guts to pursue something that is often seen as child’s play.
Add to that the difficulty of waiting for inspiration, sorting through countless ideas, reworking the piece at hand—art is not an easy pursuit. It takes time, as well as resolve.
This is why I so appreciated this week’s Breath for the Bones chapter titled “Beginning with Journal Writing.” It read as utter encouragement from author Luci Shaw, who normalized the unknowns of pursuing art.
She spoke mostly of keeping a creative journal, but through it all, I—as a writer—felt like Shaw was introducing me anew to the blank page, helping me to make friends with it, to see it as a place to house my whims and fancies.
Journal writing urges us to trust God and our own hearts, and such trusting results in fresh and surprising insights that bring great personal enrichment to us and through us to those whom our lives touch. (Shaw 96)
There was a time when I would fill journal after journal. The stack grew, and I got antsy—what will I do with the stack? Where will I put a lifetime of journals? Will I ever go back to read through them? The questions mounted alongside the stack, so I decided I could do the same sort of musing on my computer, paper free and contained all in one spot. The result? I’ve stopped journal writing altogether. [sigh.]
I do have a journal for some Bible study notes and another with some quotes and another with some doodling. I even have one with a manuscript outline (which I haven’t opened in years). Separate journals, compartmentalization, roping off of ideas . . . ick. I want to start journal writing anew, to weave together all of me and my thoughts in one place, using pen and paper to jot ideas and scribbles and doodles and to feel them forming by my own hand.
Shaw quotes Henri Nouwen from his Reflections on Theological Education: “Writing is a process in which we discover what lives in us. The writing itself reveals what is alive . . . it opens up new spaces within us of which we were not aware before we started to write” (95).
The pursuit of art is an adventure into the unknown of self and creativity and God’s leading. Trust is required to face what lives inside, behind the veil.
But this is the adventure I want to take, to fill the friendly blank page with only God knows what.
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