Reality Check Monday.

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Boo hoo, like some kind of Scrooge.

Yay, my Welcome Wagon CD finally came!  Right when I sent an aggitated email to the distributers, of course.  Also, I added a button to subscribe to my feedburner… so subscribe!  You’ll find it in the right sidebar, just under the photo of me looking so skeleton-cool.

Gwen loaned me an American Elf book and now I have the renewed urge to draw a daily comic strip, buuuuut I still don’t have the time.  Gotta focus, Bea. 

I’m cold all the time.  Even the womb has been disappointing me lately.

I have not been in the Christmas spirit.  I decided early on this time around to reject the commercial aspect of the “season”, and my plan was to focus more on the holidays of my preference (Advent and then Christmas).  So I rejected the commercial, but somehow all the stuff that is meaningful to me has kind of slipped out of my sight also.  Which leaves me with nothing, except winter and this constant feeling of cold.  How depressing!  Tomorrow morning, though, Christ Presbyterian is going to be performing Handel’s Messiah so I am really really hoping that gets me in the mood.  Who knows… maybe we need some of the commercial stuff to keep Christmas real.  As much as I hate it, maybe I need to fight the crowds at the mall and choke on the B.O. of some ragtag Santa Claus to realize that there really is something about this time that is different from the rest of the year.  

Or maybe there really isn’t.  We don’t know when Jesus was actually born, right?  Maybe there is no real point to celebrating any of this.  I have this fantasy of celebrating New Years by going to bed at 9pm on December 31 and waking up the next year, no party, no ball dropping, no midnight kiss (which I never get anyway!)  Maybe that’s how I should celebrate Christmas too, just ignore it.  I’m just so bored by all of the tradition.  

What’s wrong with me this year?  I’m in some kind of holiday funk.

Ascend, then, comic friends, then, Mother hen.

Last week I declared that I would be writing a post about the Ascension, which is now 11 days in the past and still, here, unwritten about. Not for lack of time, and not because I forgot about it. I just couldn’t rouse myself to the task. The message connected to the Ascension, that Christ reigns victorious, is exciting, but it is also convicting. Or at least, the message we were delivered on Ascension Sunday, which said, in simplified terms: “Jesus’ ascension to heaven (after spending 40 post-resurrection days on earth) puts him on the throne of God. He is not limited to any one physical place, as a body on earth is, but he continues his ministry–omnipresent–from there.” And then comes the convicting part: “The Ascension means that Christ ministers to others through us. As his witnesses, we are to show others that his reign of hope, healing, love, compassion, and justice has already begun. We must demonstrate this through our lives.” It’s not a passive holiday, the Ascension. Well anyway, I would probably have let it go unmentioned–I don’t have anything very insightful to add here–but I can’t stand leaving an allusion unanswered. I have also noticed that I can be very lighthearted and maybe even a tad humorous in this blog, but as soon as the topic turns to religion or faith I become immediately stiff-backed, as if I am afraid to have any fun with the matter, as if I have been convinced by ages of rigid, starch-collar, religious formalities which were actually, for the most part, absent from my religious upbringing. I think we need to take God seriously, of course, and I doubt if God minds the sobriety. But I don’t think my witness can do too much good if it gets a reputation of being boring, and readers skip past any mention of God here. God is not the dry thread that runs around my otherwise amusing life, flossing teeth perhaps. God is inextricable from all of these other parts! He is deeply entwined with my creative process, both the lighthearted and the serious. That was the original point of this Easel Ain’t Easy, after all. Time to get back, perhaps?

To say a bit about the creative process as it stands currently, then: I’m taking a break from painting. I could go into all of the details behind this decision, but I will focus on the one that is most exciting: I’m in on the ground-floor of a very promising collaborative project. It will be a graphic narrative, and the goal is to have it viewable online once things get rolling (hopefully in an ongoing form, that is, with regular updates building on the story). Our team is a solid one, featuring one award-winning author, one acclaimed graphic designer/illustrator, and myself, a… spirited believer in graphic storytelling. And, well okay, I’ve got a few credits to my name. The plan is to get things started on a small scale, and then once it’s somewhat established, to invite more creative talent into the fold. So listen, if you are an artist or a writer, don’t be surprised if you’re asked at some point to contribute. It’s a team thing!

Finally, it’s Mothers Day, so naturally I started writing a post about my mother. However, the degree to which I love my mother requires that the post be nothing short of perfect, so I’m going to sit on it a bit, work on a few more revisions, and post it sometime in the near future. In the meantime, moms are the bombs, especially mine. I love you Mom!!!

Easter snow.

Though your sins are like scarlet you will be white as snow, and today, on Easter, it snowed.  Today it snowed giant Christmastime flakes and perhaps it was an attack on our fledgling spirits but it didn’t even faze us, there was just too much love in the room.  Although my drive to my parents’ house was complicated by this Spring blizzard, the roads home tonight were clear and dry, and was there music?  Yes, there was!  Maybe you are dying to know what my first post-Lenten album was.  I hadn’t given it too much thought before hand, and in the end my choice was predictable but nonetheless perfect: Sufjan Stevens, Come on Feel the Illinoise.  After 47 days without playing music there is no lovelier way to welcome it back into your life than by listening to this album during a car trip.  Was there Cherry Coke?  I have to admit that there was, mainly for the sake of staying awake while driving.  It felt a little weird to be drinking it again and I’d like to take that as a good sign, that maybe I’ve really kicked the habit (but I won’t make any presumptions here, not when it comes to Cherry Coke).  But, all right, what is this Easter business really about?  Why all the build up?

Though our sins are like scarlet we will be white as snow.

We sang a song in church this morning that I have always liked, but on Easter morning it seems extra fitting, especially the last two verses:

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow’r of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand.

– From “In Christ Alone” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townsend

He lives that we might also.  White as snow!

Superficial Saturday Night

I don’t have anything to wear to church tomorrow!  It isn’t even a last minute realization–I’ve known all week long that I was without an Easter outfit.  I knew it today when my family was out shopping, but I preferred to take a nap.  When I was a young lass my mother, of course, picked out my Easter dress and bonnet, and droopy little white tights.  I wish that I had an outfit like that for tomorrow.  Probably I am writing about clothes because the rest of today’s events were of varying extremes.  I was at the bridal shower of a dear friend.  I was at the hospital visiting my grandmother.  Tomorrow we celebrate the redemption of mankind by one loving saviour.  It’s a little too much to process right now.

The darkest day.

I have never killed anyone.  I have never, in the course of my life thus far, shot, stabbed, poisoned, drowned, or in any other way taken the life from another human being.  But in my absolute failure to live righteously I have contributed to the death of the one man who ever lived who did not actually deserve to die.

This morning as I dressed for work I pulled on a kelly green polo–it would have been the perfect attire for earlier in the week when I forgot to overlook my true heritage for the sake of St. Patrick’s Day.  I was wearing this green shirt this morning as I brushed my teeth and I looked in the mirror and it was wrong.  The shirt was cheery and full of life.  Today is a day of mourning.  Without any fanfare I changed into a black sweater.

We have killed our King.

Good Friday.

I don’t know the man.

I had my first Peter moment when I was about 13 years old I would guess. This was the first time I can remember denying Christ, that is, and it’s not a pleasant memory. Prior to this I remember being bold and even reckless in my faith conversations. I remember asking neighborhood kids if they believed in Jesus. I remember being on vacation and asking strangers. Maybe I lost that spirit long before 13 years old, but it was at 13 years old that I distinctly noticed its absence.

I was at Art Camp at the local university. I was taking a photography course and there were a handful of kids I felt the need to impress. Looking back I’m not even sure why. One girl, a few years older than me, lived in my neighborhood. Another girl had, at age 13, already chosen her wedding dress, not to mention the boy she was going to marry. There must have been other kids, a crowd, enough to make me feel threatened, although I’m sure in reality they wouldn’t have cared one way or the other. We were all sitting around the courtyard eating our lunches in the shade. I was cross-legged on the paved ground with some of my camp-mates, and someone started a conversation about God. I was used to conversations about God–I attended a Christian school and we talked about God every day, it was curriculum. But here I was out in the world, unprotected. Here I was among artists and poets and philosophers, and they made it very clear how they felt about any Divine Being.

“I don’t really believe in God,” announced Ashley, the girl with the wedding dress, who was perched casually atop the brick half-wall. Noted, I thought in my head and continued to munch on my sandwich. “What about you?” Ashley asked, and all eyes were on me. It was the question I had been quietly dreading. “Are you a very religious person?” My heart began to race and I thought about a million different ways I could deflect the question, or answer with something “cool” like, “I have a soul and I know it’s connected to something greater, so yeah, sure, what’s it to ya?” In actuality I believe I took the world’s longest swallow on my peanut butter and gawked stupidly at my shoes for a few moments before muttering some embarassed answer. Maybe it wasn’t even a denial, I can’t remember my exact words. Isn’t an ashamed, “Yeah,” as bad as an outright, “Absolutely not!”? Maybe I said something about believing in God but not being religious (it’s always religion that is truly unpopular, rarely God), maybe I said something about my parents making me go to church (they have never made me), maybe I was simply noncommital: “I don’t know. Maybe, sort of, sometimes.” I don’t remember. I remember feeling a little sick afterward, I remember feeling guilty. The point is, I was not proud to align myself with God.

I think I heard a rooster crow that day.

Since then my life has been a series of denials and half-hearted admissions of my faith. It’s really sad to type that out. I would like to be bold again. I guess you could argue that this is bold, writing this here, on the World Wide Web, but really it’s not. This is easy. I want to be bold in my neighborhood, in my workplace, in my every day. I want to be that kid again, the one who bumps into another kid at the campground swimming pool and shares a laugh and then just puts it all out there. Or at least answers a question with confidence. I could be that kid. But it takes time.

Everything takes time.

Maunday Thursday.

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    Breena Wiederhoeft
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