Monday, February 21, 2011

On, In and Around Mondays: Doubting My Existence

frosted window

"I feel like Ma in The Long Winter," said my friend.


For me, it is not just the snow (today I looked out the window to find that somebody made more, again). It is not just the cold, and the colds. It is not even just that my spouse has been gone for a month to faraway, unpredictable places. Or that every day another region of the Middle East bursts into flame. It is, somehow, all of it put together, and a sinking feeling that somehow my particular kind of existence does not matter.

Over the past few days, it's been coming to me— this thing about my particular kind of existence. First it came on a sled. (Bring beauty to the world, I said to the open air.)

Then it came in the car: I am a beauty activist...not a chase, root-out, fight-injustice activist. Does the world need such as me?

At certain junctures, I have tried to be the chase, root-out, fight-injustice kind of person. This is the most lauded kind of Christian, after all.

But the other night, the truth of my existence came rushing in. I had listened to a TED talk (the root-out injustice kind) and my Elder daughter said shakily, "I didn't like her voice." I asked why. "She made it sound like something terrible was going to happen any minute." My Elder daughter has always been like this: such experiences disempower her, make her hopeless. But give her a paintbrush and an ugly surface, and she'll wake up and color the world beautiful.

My younger daughter, on the other hand, loves danger. "Isn't life more exciting when people are against you?" she has said to me.


When faced with the prospect of changing the world by chasing, rooting-out, fighting, policing, I (like my older daughter) quickly despair and become paralyzed.

So, you see, here where The Long Winter continues, I'm doing the only thing I seem made for and able to sustain over the long haul... focus on sharing beauty.

This weekend, I picked up Bill Strickland's book again, Make the Impossible Possible: One Man's Crusade to Inspire Others to Dream Bigger and Achieve the Extraordinary. Strickland counters poverty and crime with clay, jazz, and delicate orchids... breaking chains with beauty.

Thinking on that, I felt a small melting into hope... maybe such as me can matter in the world, after all.

Valentine's Table


On, In and Around Mondays (which partly means you can post any day and still add a link) is an invitation to write from where you are. Tell us what is on, in, around (over, under, near, by...) you. Feel free to write any which way... compose a tight poem or just ramble for a few paragraphs. But we should feel a sense of place. Would you like to try? Write something 'in place' and add your link below.

If you could kindly link back here when you post, it will create a central meeting place. :)

On In Around button

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Blogger amy said...

I am a beauty activist...not a chase, root-out, fight-injustice activist

yes, i love this. can i grab hold of it for myself?

your eldest daughter reminds me so of my own. and that book, i must find a copy for myself.

10:56 AM  
Blogger Cassandra Frear said...

I have to fight this feeling, too.

But when I'm really under it, God breaks through like the sun sending rays through storm clouds. Emmanuel, God with us. We matter to him, if to no one else.

My winter story at Moonboat today is about one of those moments. He was there. It is the only explanation I can find for what happened and what didn't happen...

11:05 AM  
Blogger Megan Willome said...

I like how you validate both approaches as valid, but neither is right for everybody.
You are like the mouse, Frederick, in Leo Lionni's picture book "Frederick," who saves up stories for the long winter days.

11:06 AM  
Blogger Maureen said...

Change, I've become convinced, only begins with one, and that one is the self.

Every day, L.L., I see how you "break chains" of ugliness with words and images of beauty, of love and community. Reclaiming beauty (in heart and soul) is hard work, important work, the only work that, in the end, matters.

And, as Shane Claiborne of The Simple Way, says, "The beautiful thing is that there is enough to go around."

11:09 AM  
Blogger Kim said...

I've also been a chase activist (much more common in men, don't you think? Or is that stereotyping?) Anyway, hopefully that is a thing of the past. Should I say, "now that I'm older," or is that stereotyping too? I wonder how many pick up on the Little House on the Prarie reference? All the Best!

11:20 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I will march with you in this.
Or sit, or saunter.

11:26 AM  
Blogger Kim said...

LL, Hey never fear. There's always hope for such as us. Anyway, you can't be all bad if you have Old Country Roses china...

11:31 AM  
Blogger Kelly Sauer said...

I really must be schizophrenic - I understand both points. Right now, the dominant side of me is the duck and run side, at least if you don't count what I did yesterday (which is in my post that I just linked. I'm slow opening now.

11:40 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Oh, yes, the world needs beauty activists! When I feel this type of hopeless uselessness, I re-read my favorite children's book: Fredrick the Mouse. We were created with a need for beauty (well, I believe it's a need). That's what it means to be more than an overcomer.

12:35 PM  
Anonymous Lyla Lindquist said...

We're in a long winter of our own (17 inches again overnight, as of 6am, and still coming down as midday approaches). One begins to wonder.

After reading your post this morning, I thought perhaps mine from the weekend might play along just fine.

Continue to "root out" the beauty, L.L. Few do it so well.

12:38 PM  
Blogger Violet N. said...

Oh dear, my entry this week is positively frothy when compared to your wistful and philosophical thoughts. Please don't take offense. One has to play too -- or watch others do it.

I wish you well in the long winter of your quest for beauty, meanwhile mothering your daughters so sensitively it makes me wish I had my kids to parent all over again!

1:22 PM  
Blogger SimplyDarlene said...

Focus on sharing beauty.
That is your ring,
diamond cut

On a hand that
unveils pretty
whilst pulling
out the ugly,
like one
who yanks the
and leaves
the dishes
on top.

(I don't know why I am commenting in rhyme today. I reckon it has to do with your influence though. There you have it, it's all your fault! ;-)


1:45 PM  
Anonymous kingfisher said...

It's good that you put into words what so many of us are feeling, but aren't able to express it or don't feel safe being so public with our fears of uselessness. For me, it's wonderful to know that others
"doubt existance". Not that I wish you, or the others, would have to go through such emotional torment, but that others are experiencing the same fears as I am -- which means Satan is trying to weary the saints, instead of just "me being a poor Christian" who can't measure up to her own expectations of who she thinks she ought to be.

Yes, yes, keep searching for beauty, L. L. Keep showing us beauty! Keep giving us permission to seek beauty instead of "doing something". We need to see the beauty to counter the ugliness we find in today's world.

"One thing have I desired, that will I seek after: That I might behold the beauty of the Lord, and inquire in his temple." (Psalms.)

While we are observing and basking in the beauty we CAN see around us, let us never forget to seek first the beauty of the Lord, the wonder and truth and mercy and grace and love of our Messiah, Jesus Christ.

2:00 PM  
Anonymous HisFireFly said...

He takes the long winter and accomplishes His purposes - and uses you, yes, you, to have His way.

His light shines in, through, around you, and we see it, oh, how we see it!

Trying to link my post today.. and as usual, it soesn't seem to take --

5:49 PM  
Anonymous kingfisher said...

I've left my link, and as usual, it comes up "page not found." Over at the right of that page, click on "home page", and it should come up.

6:21 PM  
Blogger Solveig said...

Oh, I'm so grateful for the beauty you share. A person's capactiy to appreciate beauty is proof enough that we're meant to create it and share what we find with others. Even the crusaders must understand and appreciate God's gifts. And I also have to add that the china is lovely.

10:32 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thoughtful post. Your subtitle is a bit dark, but I trust that this is simply how you're feeling today, in the now of countries bursting into flame and more snow.

When it gets put on the site, I'll send a link of Bob Goff's Jubilee talk. I missed him the last time he was here, but I couldn't pass him up twice. You're going to like his Strickland attitude and activity in the world.

Here's to being a beauty activist.

9:34 AM  
Blogger Joelle said...

There's the OCR again! My mom just gifted me with three of the most delicate, gorgeous Limoge egg cups to match my single, chipped cup and two plates from a thriftstore.... I have struggled with guilt (well, I don't like to struggle, so I haven't struggled long or hard) at not being a real activist. I'd much rather change the world by my simple living in it. Grow my own food, share it with others, create beauty and healing and compassion and peace in my home and yard. Thanks for being so honest and honoring this role too.

11:32 AM  
Blogger Kathleen Overby said...

How I loved this post. How I have loved reading it over and over again. You connected with us- with our desire- craving beauty. Again.

Like Michaelangelo's painting on the chapel ceiling - God's finger reaching out to touch man's.

You touched my blue and black, tender, bruised, 'In the Bleak Mid Winter' heart.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

I remember feeling cold the entire time I was reading A Long Winter to my daughter. At one point I looked at her and said, "Isn't this winter EVER going to end?" Love Bill Strickland and the work he is doing.

4:29 PM  
Blogger Eve said...

I link arms with you my friend, on this Beauty Crusade.

10:17 PM  
Anonymous Cheryl Smith said...

the beauty on the table reminds me of the time I spent yesterday, having Christmas Noir with my tea drinking friend. It's quite possible that your china pattern matches her tea pot. :)

6:02 PM  
Blogger Michelle DeRusha said...

But you beauty-activists are critical in a droughty, stricken landscape. You water my soul and bring blooms into wasteland. Yes, you!

1:31 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

The world needs all kinds of activists: the ones that make beauty and the ones that protect it. I think we all do a little bit of both in our own ways, or we try. For example, one might cook a lovely meal for a spouse who fights injustice : )

9:27 AM  
Anonymous Lynet said...

You smooth conflict and create places where people can grow, and understand each other and themselves. That is more than beauty.

But beauty is quite lovely in and of itself.

1:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A beauty activist . . . I can't think of a better description of you. Or a higher calling to pursue.

I love the nuances of this post, and the journey it represents.

9:11 PM  

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