Life in Cardboard: Moving Related Pipedreams

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How is it possible that you can finish moving into a new place and still feel like you are in the middle of moving? Right now our apartment’s decorative theme is “cardboard chic”. Why unpack when you can have mystery boxes all around you? I get good exercise walking repeatedly around in circles looking for items I swore I saw yesterday in a box….

However, I am not so much interested in the act of unpacking as I am in the act that precedes it.

In the midst of sorting through clutter and wrapping fragile items in yesterday’s headlines, I cannot help but notice that the organized chaos around me takes on a more artistic form. I am not just preparing belongings for transport – I am creating  dioramas of my life in cardboard boxes.

siouxdiorama1

 

I have moved on from the simple decorative shoe boxes of my elementary school years. Gone are the pastoral scenes of green hillsides and crystal streams (sorry cutout wallpaper swans). Now the boxes contain memories in miniature of the past eleven years.

One box seems to serve as a memorial to highschool awkwardness.  It is poorly labeled as it is still figuring its contents out. Yet it has distinct features. Its walls are covered in the jean fabric of the coveralls I used to hide in. Reflecting my wish not to be seen, the jean fabric is ill-fitting and its baggy folds obscure the box’s true shape. Old sheets of homework are folded into the shape of a desk and chair. No figures are present in the box- just a single picture of the friend I longed to have recognize me. His picture is framed by gold aluminum foil and is surrounded by plastic dollar store flowers. The above is a gaudy shrine and is painful to look at. Nevertheless it serves as a reminder of the earnest but ultimately misguided and deeply painful love I experienced in adolescence. This diorama is too honest to bring me any pleasure. I think that I will burn it and try to forget.

The following box is much easier on the eyes. It is a collegiate scene largely created out of old midterms and returned term papers. At the center of the diorama is a paper heart. It veins are fed by the blood red ink of the corrections and constructive comments written on my work. Beside it is a brain- one of those squishy stress balls that they give away for free on university club days. I cherish this box because it represents a period of my life where the interests of my mind and the needs of my heart aligned for the first time. It also features the liberal application of sliver glitter and who doesn’t like that?

The last box is special as I have spent eight years building this diorama.

It wasn’t even supposed to be created. After initial work on the project commenced, I took great pains to hide it. Hunched over like a possessed second grader, my arms formed a protective wall to block out all curious onlookers. There even was a period when I tried to deny its existence.

What exactly was I attempting to hide? Walls papered with movie tickets, restaurant napkins, and pictures/quotes from greeting cards that gradually increased in romantic sentiment. The silhouette of a young man with open arms. These things must not be seen by the general public, so I covered the scene with a lid and cut a pinhole.

I had intended to keep this one private. I had intended to keep it isolated- away from the other dioramas of my life. However, the box’s subject kindly requested more light. So I accommodated him by enlarging the viewing window. That worked for a while.  Contents exposed to the light of day, I slowly began to feel more confident of the diorama and my artistic ability. I began to cut away at the lid that covered this diorama until nothing was left. Once open for inspection, I found that the contents were good and not shameful.

However, it soon became apparent to me that this project was entirely too large to fit into one box -it would need to expand. It would be a longterm project. It would be extremely difficult to hide. I was faced with two choices: destroy it or commit to developing it.

I chose to keep crafting and I have many more beautiful dioramas to show for it.  Although I have had to share creative rights with my husband.

That is one fanciful way to explain why there are so many boxes in our apartment at present.

How about you? If your life was a diorama, what would it look like?

 

 

 

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Body Issues Part 1

A seamstress once used “sturdy” to describe my build. I am certainly glad of this designation as it means that in the event of a nor’easter I will not be blown asunder. I shudder to think of the cruel fate that awaits any Victoria’s Secret model forced to endure high winds. But my concern for the frail makes me digress….

In addition to my physical ‘soundness’, I have scars from chicken pox (just try not scratching when you are six years old), rollerblading (knee pads take too long to put on at recess) and ironing (don’t ask). My posterior has taken its cushioning role very seriously. There are other things that I dislike about my physical body but I am not writing here to grouse about them.

No, today I want to pay attention to issues related to a body that isn’t corporeal but is just as essential to the maintenance of life – the Church.

Let’s face it, Christians all struggle with “body issues” when it comes to the Church.  We recognize that we are all a part of one body with many members (1 Corinthians 12:12-31) . Yet that doesn’t stop us from secretly or openly disparaging/reviling what displeases us about the body and/or our place within it.
We wrongfully elevate certain ‘nobler’ parts at the expense of others. We forget that “the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable” (v. 22). We create divisions within the body (ministry team vs. ministry team, worship style vs. worship style) and ignore Christ’s mandate that the members “have the same care for one another” (v. 25).

Even when we acknowledge that we are one body, we still succumb to the urge to ‘shape up flabby members’ through the spiritual/theological equivalents of unhealthy crash diets, and short-lived exercise crazes. Just as we are not always interested in pursuing the lifestyle choices that would make us physically fit,  we often cannot be pained to listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit and embrace the spiritual disciplines that will make us healthy and whole as a Church body.

It isn’t enough anymore to simply look at the Church and point out all the flaws of its individual members. We need to acknowledge that we are one body and that our body issues may be rooted in sin. If we do indeed find fault with our appearance, we need to take collective responsibility for it. If any malaise or spiritual paunch is detected,  we must seek treatment from the Great Physician. We need to remember that “God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose” (v. 18) and that He knows best how to bring about the health of the body.

Aside

Smokey the Bear & Fiery Tongues

James 3:5 -“So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of greater things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!” (ESV)

   “Remember…Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires.” I don’t know about you but I rather like authoritative bears. Winnie the Pooh and Yogi are loveable but they don’t command respect like Smokey the Bear. I am simply more inclined to listen to a bear in a ranger hat who has enough sense to wear a belt with his blue jeans, than bears known respectively for theft (Yogi, being smarter than the national average doesn’t justify criminal activity) and subterfuge (you are not a little black rain cloud Pooh). However, despite his admirable (and imposing) efforts to prevent forest fires, Smokey has little to say about the fires started by the human tongue. Running the risk of having created a terrible sermon illustration but for the sake of introductory humour, I am going to pursue this theme a little further.

I don’t think it is too farfetched to build a metaphorical connection between human beings and trees. This association is already prevalent in colloquial conversation, as we make reference to “putting down roots,” and “acorns not falling far from the tree.”   Sometimes we even get to play trees in elementary school pageants*. Most importantly, a precedent for this association has been set in the Bible. Psalm 1:3 states that the righteous man is like “a tree planted by streams of living water”(ESV). Isaiah 61:3 speaks prophetically that the Israelites will be like “oaks of righteousness” (ESV) that have been planted for the glory of God. So if human beings are like trees, we too are susceptible to the ravages of wild fires.

The only difference is that these fires come from the tongue.

In this manner, careless words have the same effect that cigarette butts do when they are tossed out of a car window and onto the parched edge of a forest. Upon finding a comfortable resting place, these words have the potential to smolder until unspeakable damage is caused.

In this manner, deliberate statements become acts of arson in which the speaker delights in the destructive power of his or her words. These words blaze up quickly and consume their target with searing heat. The speaker wants nothing more but to see the forest burn.

I have been unintentionally hurt by casual asides that were aimed at me like discarded cigarette butts. I have had lit matches dropped on the dry tinder of my soul. I have experienced tirades that were the verbal equivalent of being dosed with kerosene and set aflame. In short, I have been damaged by verbal fire.

Are these fires due to gross negligence on my part? Are others to be charged with the task of preventing fires in my life? My answer is yes and no.

Smokey is right in the emphasis he places on personal responsibility for preventing fires.  We are responsible for our speech. We need to make an active choice to speak only in a manner that will edify others. We need to demonstrate Christ’s love for us through our verbal exchanges. We have to situate ourselves where our ‘root systems’ or innermost parts can be fed by streams of living water that will extinguish any pricks of flame before they engulf us.

     However, we need to be aware that Jesus is the source of those living waters.  We cannot manufacture them. When we become alienated from these streams, we are easily set ablaze.  We cannot effectively fight these fires on our own.

 Only Jesus Christ can prevent & extinguish the fires of the tongue.

——–

*As it turns out in this grade school pageant scenario, EVERYONE hears if a tree falls in the forest.

Gypsies & The Old College Try

I took a rather long hiatus from blogging. I could offer up a variety of excuses for my prolonged absence (read terrible neglect) that range from the plausible-“life simply was too busy”- to the creative but ridiculous-“would you believe that I joined a roving band of gypsies with hearts of gold and teeth to match and used interpretive dance as my creative outlet this past year?”

   While I am fond of both of the above explanations, the truth of the matter is that I let fear get the best of me.  I panicked at the first signs of complication and discomfort in the writing process. I let anxieties (both real and imagined) rule me. I gave in to the pangs of creation that I had challenged myself to meet and push past. I deeply regret my acquiescence to the crippling demands of worry. Although it is not a sin to neglect one’s blog, my silence was certainly a byproduct of sin. For forgetting the abiding hope I have in Christ and allowing doubt to spoil my joy and anxiety to dictate my actions, I repent.

   So with that said, I am going to resume blogging on a regular basis. I don’t expect fanfare to meet this announcement, nor am I deluded enough to think that the internet has been a shallower place for my absence. All I know is that I need to continue writing in order to challenge myself and to make sense of the pain that always seems to be intertwined with things of beauty.

I sincerely hope that you will come with me on this journey. I earnestly desire the company of fellow wayfarers and welcome any provisions/insights you might have that would enhance the trip. I also promise not to abandon you again for a group of gypsies (no matter how dazzling their gold teeth are).

God of Surety

I am a cripple. I wasn’t born with a birth defect. I haven’t suffered a tragic accident that has left me physically disabled. Yet I hobble.

 My limbs are burdened by doubt, weighed down by “what ifs”. I am anchored by apprehension. I use worry as a crutch; it supports my current position of stagnation but doesn’t allow me to move forward.  My heart has dreams but fear overshadows them.

In my bound state, I call out. 

A voice answers.

“You worship the God of surety.”

What does this statement mean to a person plagued by incertitude?

It means a great deal.

It means that I worship a God who is beyond doubt.

It means that my self assurance will be found in the Lord.

It means that Jesus is my security against death. He has assumed responsibility for my sins and weaknesses. He has paid my debt. He has a vested interest in my success.  My contract with Him is eternal.

This is basic Christian doctrine… and it is mindblowing when fully realized.

 

Pieces of Me

 So you already know that I was an overzealous abstinence practitioner, now to share a few more details about myself. You know, the real ‘important’ stuff concerning hobbies, likes/dislikes ….

1. My two favorite instruments are the banjo and the harpsichord. I don’t think they can be combined but I’d like to see it tried.

2. I love reading.  My favorite books are A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and Who Has Seen the Wind by W.O. Mitchell. I read a lot of non fiction as well (mostly histories and theology).

3. I hate cotton balls. I refuse to touch them. If I come in contact with a cotton ball, I suffer immediate painful flashbacks to childhood art projects gone awry. Digits growing white fluff, fingers trapped in a cobweb of cotton and glue – creating a paper plate cloud or sheep has too high a human cost.  

4. My dancing prospects trailed off after I was done doing the “Holy Ghost Hop”with Carmen in the early 90’s. 

5. Film is my favorite art form. I love well crafted films. I love foreign films. I especially enjoy Italian cinema from the 1950s-1960s. I highly recommend viewing Fellini’s La Dolce Vita (denouncement of materialism), Monicelli’s Big Deal on Madonna Street (humorous caper film), and Olmi’s Il Posto (commentary on job security and loss of identity in Economic Miracle era Italy).

6. I don’t wear makeup very often. This is due to laziness and my dislike of the cosmetic industry that becomes rich off of our insecurities. Also, I was raised by a jaded ex-model and hippie.

7. My favorite songwriter/ musical artist is Hawksley Workman. His lyrics stray into the profane at times but he writes with great emotional depth.

8. I believe that a grilled cheese sandwich is the best thing to eat for lunch on a Sunday.

9. Australia is the home of my heart.

10. I love stationery. I recommend visiting http://www.oblationpapers.com/

Featured Entry on Good Woman Project Blog

I discovered Lauren Lankford’s excellent Good Woman Project blog by accident (like all good internet finds). I was searching for research and personal testimonies that would shed light on the difficulties I was having transitioning into married life.  My problems did not concern the allocation of shared living space or a lack of effective communication.  My problems were in the marriage bed. This sounds like it is going to be a very ‘spicy’ post but it is not – that’s just the problem. I had difficulty accepting my ‘newfound’ sexuality within marriage.  If you would like to read about how pride and misplaced ideas about virginity and abstinence hurt my sex life, please use the below provided link. Even if you don’t want to read my story, please check out the Good Woman Project as it is fantastic and contains timely insights.

  http://goodwomenproject.com/sex/how-pride-and-virginity-messed-up-my-sex-life

All the Awkwardness & Excitement of a First Date

 My name is Prisca and this blog entry is the equivalent of a first date. [Insert polite handshake or side hug here]

  To be frank, it is my sincerest desire not to be left alone in cyberspace. So naturally, I want to impress you. I want things to work out.  In preparation for this entry I have polished my phrases, checked my spelling, and avoided raising my voice with All Caps. I have even dressed up for the occasion (you’ll have to trust me on that one).  While this first entry is rather superficial, I promise we’ll move past the initial stage of shallow conversation. If you return to this blog in the future, you will find entries dealing with all sorts of deeper  issues concerning art, relationships, and spiritual development.

 Why risk the awkwardness of a first entry and venture into blogging at all? I want to blog because I am someone who knows all too well the ‘pangs of creation’.  For me, the feelings of pain and pressure I experience while writing are remarkably close to the pangs endured on the road to personal healing. Addressing personal failings, correcting deep-rooted harmful beliefs, and deciding not live as a member of the ‘walking wounded’ anymore takes determination and a high pain tolerance. Writing in world flooded with voices (a multitude better than mine) requires bravery as well. I don’t think I deserve some special badge or commendation for deciding to face my fears.  However, I would like some travelling companions. I know that there are countless others out there who are struggling with the same issues and questions as I am.  So let us journey together.  I am enduring the pangs of creation with the hope of future glory. How about you?