What if you had an entire day with NOTHING on the calendar? And what if you received one assignment for that day: Go on a date. Make a date with the artist within you. Do something, just the two of you, you and your creative soul, something that nurtures you both.
What would you do?
That was my day today. I’m reading a book called The Artist’s Way. It is written to be read and implemented one chapter per week. Each week includes several writing and personal exploration tasks and an Artist Date. I am on Chapter One, so this was my first date.
The Date can be anything you choose: a visit to a museum, a couple of hours enjoying a delightful coffee shop, baking bread at home, anything that feeds your soul and nurtures your creative consciousness. Through the week I tossed around different ideas. Several of them were promising and I’ll use them in weeks to come but
I knew from the beginning that there could be only one destination for my first date,
perhaps the place that has fed my soul more than any other.
So, at noon today, I packed up the essentials for the trip, grabbed my water bottle and a blanket, and headed out, stopping by a Wendy’s nearby to pick up lunch. And this is where I went.
I walked the old familiar paths just to get my bearings again, to get reacquainted with this home away from home for my heart.
After we were settled in together, Stages Pond and I, at the far bird blind, I sat for a while and ate lunch, just soaking in the beauty — and the new Wendy’s grilled chicken sandwich, which is just as good as the commercial makes it look.
After lunch, I wandered for a little bit looking for the best place to settle. And to my delight I discovered a new trail — a new path mowed through the meadows surrounding the kettle lake, a lake previously only seen from a bird blind at the front of the park. This trail wandered nearly a mile through the meadow and around the lake and came back out onto Kettle Lake Trail near where it had begun. I traced its length and then came back, finding The Place, the perfect place for our date, laying out my blanket and unpacking my Bible, books, journals and pen, water bottle, and reading glasses.
Then I didn’t move for the next two hours.
I started with reading and praying Psalm 32, ending with meditating on the fact that I am surrounded by the Lord’s unfailing love. I am surrounded by the Lord’s unfailing love. I AM surrounded by the Lord’s unfailing love. I am SURROUNDED by the Lord’s unfailing love. I am surrounded by THE LORD’S unfailing love. I am surrounded by the Lord’s UNFAILING love. I am surrounded by the Lord’s unfailing LOVE. That’s good stuff, right there!
Then I moved on to my current reading in Luke, chapter 13 today and asked God to work his kingdom into and through me until I am thoroughly changed by it in every part of me, like the leavening in the parable.
I read a little in a book on hearing the voice of God (Four Keys to Hearing God’s Voice) and asked him to speak to me as I tried journaling what I heard him saying. This is new to me — I journal regularly my responses to His Word in the Bible and journal prayers of reflection and response to him, but I am new to trying to listen and journal what he might be saying.
I read this week’s chapter in our church-wide study book, Meet the Goodpeople, and asked God to help us make our church services relevant to the culture of the people we are trying to reach for him, as John and Charles Wesley did in their day.
Then it was time for the two of us — my inner artist and I. We wrote. We had two tasks from the Artist’s Way to work on today. They were fun, light-hearted (one involved imagining five different lives for ourselves other than the one we currently live — what would we be, just for fun, if we could) and lying on our tummies we wrote them leisurely in my journal, lingering on the parts that were especially enjoyable. Still lying there, we looked in every direction, enjoying the view from down so low.
Finally, we laid back and looked up at the sky, the clear, blue, October sky, and just soaked it in until our hearts were full.
And we closed our eyes and listened. To the rustling of the trees and drying grasses as the breezes rose up and died down. To the birds calling to one another across the meadow. To the bees buzzing busily in the fall flowers of the meadow. To the constant buzz of a million unknown insects that sounded at first to be one steady, unchanging pitch, but with careful listening could be separated into distinct sounds and rhythm. To the occasional airplane passing overhead and the far-off sounds of cars on country roads and farmers bringing in their corn. Listened.
Finally we were done. My inner, artistic soul and I had had our first date. It went well. We had a good time. We like each other. I don’t know yet how the relationship will progress, what will come of it. I don’t know yet if I can trust my inner artist, if she is the real deal or just an imposter and not artistic at all. She may be a complete waste of time, but I intend to pursue this relationship and see. Either way I’d say we’re off to a good start.
We packed up our books and belongings and headed back to the car,
where I traded my backpack and my date for my running shoes.
With a full heart and eyes wide open to this beautiful day in this beautiful place, I turned back to the trails and ran, ran them all, stopping when I needed to catch my breath and to take a picture
of a flower
or a tree
or a field of soybeans in the late afternoon sun
or a view of the lake demanding I not overlook it
and to visit for a minute with a man resting on a fallen log and to enjoy the surprise I had hoped for from the time my foot hit the trail at the beginning of the day
a whitetail deer standing just twenty feet away from me in the edge of woods, both of us stopping for a full minute and taking each other in before turning and heading our own ways.
maybe I hadn’t left my inner artist in the car after all.
Perhaps she had come with me on my run, wringing out every last drop of joy in this October day, drinking with me the delights of Stages Pond.