When we need a new way…

If you’ve spent any time at all hanging out in churches in the southern USA, or even hanging out with people who have, you are probably familiar with the pervasive notion of the way we’ve always done it!

(There are, of course, other people harboring the same notion, but I’m trying to speak from my experience. In fact, a few of you may have heard this story before but context is, as they say, everything and our current context is begging for this story!)

Once, when I was an MDiv student at Columbia Theological Seminary, a neighbor in the class ahead of me needed someone to preach for him on Sunday in a tiny church in West Georgia. I, fresh from my summer internship with 5 actual sermons under my belt, said I’d be honored.

I was also excited! And, it turned out, there was at least one question I didn’t yet know that I needed to ask.

On the morning in question I arrived, sermon manuscript in a snazzy folder along with my Bible, and robe neatly draped over my arm.

The organist met me in the parking lot and welcomed me warmly. She volunteered to introduce me and make a couple of announcements, showed me where to find the bathroom, and brought me a small cup of water. I was good to go!

With all the business stuff out of the way, I led the call to worship and then announced the first hymn. Amazing Grace. Safe and familiar.

The organist played a couple of measures for the intro and I raised my hands in the popular preacher signal for “y’all stand, please.”

They did.

Then we heard the organist magic which means “start singing”.

They didn’t.

After two more repeats of the not singing thing, the light began to come on. There was no choir. They were waiting for me to open my mouth and start singing.

Me, who heard my whole life long about my grandfathers who could sing and my grandmothers who could not. I, it was made clear to me, was more like my grandmothers!

But, what we were doing wasn’t getting us anywhere and so I did.

I sang. By myself. In front of a church full of strangers. And, after the longest two words of my life, they sang, too!

And, just in case you’re curious, I lived!

I’ve felt like that a lot this week.

If we’ve learned nothing else, I suspect a great many of us are having a new experience of just how much the way we’ve been doing things isn’t working.

A great many more of us, those our pundits might term less privileged, are undoubtedly way ahead of the curve on that!

Our planet is crying out for healing.

Women, and intelligent men, are crying out for civil rights and bodily dominion.

And the enormous damage to a huge part of the USA is going to make legal, safe access to abortion a tragic survival strategy for many, many families who cannot imagine how to raise a child in the midst of all they’ve lost.

All this in the midst of the ongoing pandemic.

If you’re still reading, my choice to leave behind generations of good girls are quiet and polite and don’t rock the boat is worth it!

That hasn’t worked for a very long time. If you haven’t read Alice Hoffman’s The Dovekeepers, now might be a good time.

Well, right after you call whomever your particular lawmaker-types might be and tell them what you need. Believe me, my gang in Congress are on it!

Honestly, I’d rather be sharing my favorite bone broth recipe with you. This has got to come first.

Now is the time!

ps… the Legendary figure in the painting-in-progress has her hand raised in a gesture of blessing. That’s for you!

pps… in Hebrew, the same word means both hand and power!

What one thing will you choose?

Well, it happened again. I overdosed on CNN.

Fires. Hurricanes. Flooding. Covid. Political infighting. You name it… no more would fit inside me.

I seriously contemplated crawling into bed and staying for a month or so. Sadly, my back is in a bad mood and I suspect we need a new mattress so that was a no go.

I gazed out at the garden, seriously in need of its seasonal change to fall, but given the back situation, plus the rain and heat and humidity, that was a no go, too.

Then one of my favorite Intentional Creativity® Coaching tools began to tap on my consciousness. Just in case you, too, are feeling overdosed on news and other sad, challenging things, this adventure might just be helpful!

It goes something like this… get a marker or three and a handy sheet of big-ish paper and a bit of quiet time.

This part is important… for steps one and two, we are not drawing an image. We are just thinking about thinking and moving the marker.

  1. Divide your paper, mentally, into approximate thirds, left to right. (No actual lines needed.) In the left third, let yourself feel into the hard things and while you’re feeling, just let your marker do what it does. Watch. (Judging, while tempting, is not part of what we’re doing right now!)
  2. Moving to the right third of your paper, and choosing a different marker if you like, let yourself feel into what better would feel like and just let your marker do what it does. Watch. (Ditto, not judging.)
  3. See what you notice.
  4. Now, in the center, sketch your version of a bridge between the hard things and what better would feel like. A path. (You can’t get this wrong!)
  5. Then, the wondering! What is one step you could actually take to begin to cross the bridge??? (Yep, just one!) Write it down. Make an image. Sit with it a bit.
  6. When it feels settled (and probably a bit obvious!) there are three more questions… Could you? Would you? When?

Here’s what happened for me…

I could add some new energy to my studio. Energy in tune with what I see in the near future…

I would. (Oh, yes!!!)

When? Well, as soon as Bill could help with wiring a couple of paintings and then help hang them. (They’re big canvases and there’s – you know – the back thing…)

And then, one more question… What could I do (while waiting for Bill’s help) to value and express what I learned?

That one was easy!

Prayer dots! (And a few Celtic spirals and swirls!) Just me and the paintings… no CNN!

As you can see, the paintings are up. A Tree Woman adventure created by three generations of Boardman women!

Another #WIP which decided, a bit ago, to rest where it is for now and help out as a background for Zoom time.

Both keeping company with The Fiercely Compassionate Artist whom you may have met on Sunday, and Bella Mama, whom we need now more than ever.

And, while all that was in the works, Our Lady of Guadalupe is very nearly finished, complete with her message for this moment.

And, Legend #4 has made huge progress. And – huge fun – when I looked at last night’s photo of her this morning, I saw her face! Already there, waiting for me to find it!!!

It has been just the journey I needed! All from a few questions, a scrap of paper, a couple of markers, and a bit of trust in my own voice.

Holler if a guide to bridges might be helpful! suesvoice@gmail.com

ps… Peter, Paul & Mary are singing away, the big dogs are napping, and I have more dots to make!

pps… Fun, new gift items in my shop…

Sue Boardman, Certified Intentional Creativity®
Color of Woman Teacher & Coach