what the morning brings

I go to bed with a prayer, Lord, wake me in time. And in the middle of walking through my college cafeteria in a bow tie, my eyes flutter open and I know it’s time. I don’t look at the clock, but I don’t have to. It’s dark, but I can tell it’s morning.

Sometimes the morning brings new mercies and other times, those mercies seem far off. But this is a new mercy morning as I remember the night before. Friends were here, and we sat with sock feet on our sofa. We talked about the real and the gritty, about the fears and the why’s of our faith. We prayed for belief and we shared the serious and the not so much. And as I sat, the low-grade anxiety I had been living with began to slow. The whirring in my heart began to quiet. And the body of Christ showed up in these people as they expressed themselves. But Himself. But them – the mystery of Christ in us, our hope.

This morning, I sit early in the dark and read Colossians. I thank Him for the waking, as He is so faithful to do when I ask. It’s as if every night when I go to bed, He longs for me to ask for a waking. And when I do, He does. You may say just set an alarm! and I could. But this is better.

We’ve been talking about art (or haven’t you noticed?) and it’s funny to me that I’ve had so much to say about it. Every time I sit to write, these are the things that come. And so I say them, and you receive them, and it is a gift to me. I think of this community of people who come, who read, who bear witness to truth. And then, you go and make your art in your worlds and my friends in my living room last night, they do the same thing, and it is beautiful, all of it.

And then I think of Ryan on The Office last night, who said his new years resolution was to live his life like it’s an art project. And I know the writers are making some kind of statement about that, but I think how it should be true even if they are making fun of it. And then Kevin comes and puts an “f” in front of the art, and I laugh hysterically because I am in middle school, apparently.

But it’s still true, the art project life. And so I think about that in the early, as the sky turns pink and fades to light. I hear them shuffling around upstairs and I know it’s time to begin to swim around in the living.

3 things to do when they don’t like your art

“Unless you’re running for something that requires a unanimous vote, it’s a mistake to focus on the frowning guy in the back of the room…You’re on the hunt for sneezers, for fans, for people willing to cross the street to work with you. Everyone else can pound sand, that’s okay. Being remarkable also means being ignored or actively disliked.”

Seth Godin, on his blog

Sometimes your art gets rejected. And that’s good, because all art isn’t for all people. If it were, it wouldn’t be art, it would be Wal-Mart. For example, sometimes people stop reading this blog – I don’t just say that because it’s obvious, I say that because it used to be that every time an email subscriber unsubscribed, I would get an email about it. The subject line would say “Unsubscription Notification for Chatting at the Sky” and then it told me the email address of the person.

I don’t get those notifications anymore, but the first time I got one of these, I felt totally rejected.

What am I doing wrong? Why are they going away?! And then I was tempted to email them and ask. And then I started to rationalize it. Oh, they’re just streamlining and decided to read in Google Reader so they unsubscribed to the email. Or Maybe they decided to read directly on the site now. Those things could be true.

But what is probably more true is that for some people, their time is better spent in some other way. And they don’t care so much what I have to say. So what do I do about that?

Actually, nothing. Or everything, depending on how you look at it. The job of the artist is not to convince people to like what they have created. The job of the artist is to create.

Your creation could be words, paints, crafts, music. But your art is in no way limited to those things. Your art is any work you are passionate about. And your job is to be passionate, not to convince someone else to like you.

Remember, it doesn’t have to be personal. I can make it personal, and I did at first. And they may even mean for it to be. But the great thing about having a mind of our own is we get to decide what we let affect us. Instead of taking it personally, see it as a refining. The words I put out are an invitation to receive what I have to offer here. When people stop reading, it simply means they aren’t looking for what I have to offer. And that’s okay, because there are others who are.

If I try to cater to a broader audience, then I am in essence trying to please those who have already said no thank you rather than serve those who are wanting more.

Work like an artist, but think like a hostess. When people don’t like the art, the artist keeps creating. She doesn’t change what she makes and what she loves just because someone doesn’t like it. She can’t change how she works, but she may have to change how she thinks.

A hostess serves the people at her table. She looks them in the eye, she meets them where they are. She doesn’t spend her time distracted during the party in the next room, calling the people who RSVPd no. She issues the invitations, and then serves those who show up.

And since we’re doing this, if you are one who likes what you see here and want to make it easier to read, you can click here to have new posts from Chatting at the Sky delivered into your email inbox. If you sign up and then change your mind and unsubscribe, I won’t take it personal.

wake up and dream

Do you know you are brave and beautiful? I don’t usually begin posts that way, but you spoke your fears out loud–you who are made to create–and I am overwhelmed with your confessions. They are my confessions, too.

Fear of failure, of rejection, of working hard and risking vulnerable  just to say what someone else already said better. We are a scared bunch, aren’t we? Longing to be seen but feeling safe when we’re invisible? Waiting for permission to create for real because what if? and what about? and what will they think?

I hope you are diving into the deep, sweet place of authentic this week. And I don’t mean climb into your quiet cave and wait for the Muse. No, I hope you are swimming around in the living; seeing the art in your husband’s eyes, delighting in the way her freckles are sprinkled just about her nose, feeling the warm sun on your back even in the bitter cold. It’s all art. And when we see it, we can better make it.

Wake up and dream to life those things that seem far off. Live the art you dream about. Embrace the ones you have. And then? Sit down and get to work. Because no truth is new truth, friend, it all belongs to God. Your voice is just one, and that makes it unique. You may not be the first to say it, but your saying it may be the first time we hear.

You need to live the art, and then you need to keep on making it. For you. And for us. Will you?

your ego is a burden anyway

One of the biggest things that gets in our way when it comes to making art is our own ideas about it. We make it so mysterious, so ethereal, so other-than us. And it is, in a way. But if you keep it there, it will continue to be too big to touch. You fear you’ll wreck it all up if you dare to reach for it. So you leave it up there in the clouds, sparkling just out of reach. And it looks pretty and you cower beneath it all helpless and victimy.

Today is the day to reach your grubby hands up high, grab that sparkly dream off that too-high shelf and roll around in the mud with it. It is not as delicate as you think. It will not break and shatter. And neither will you. Well, you might. But that’s okay because your ego is a burden anyway. It is keeping you from the risk, and you can’t afford to live a life risk-free. It isn’t what you were made for.

“God doesn’t want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible.”

2 Timothy 1:7, The Message

And so you (and I) operate on this level of constant self-editing, and so our creativity is polite and linear. And then we are discouraged. It’s no wonder. I’m not saying publish a blog post filled with raw rants, or put your first crack at your art on display. But I am saying you have to have a first crack. What do you have to lose?

No really, what do you have to lose? I want you to answer that in the comments, because sometimes just naming the fear sets us free. Here, I’ll go first.

If I create the art that really means something to me, people might not like it.

(I feel better already.)