Tag Archives: Community

Guest Writer: Shane Tucker ‘Aesthetic Spirituality’

I invited Shane to post here, chiefly because I feel a kinship to Shane. The artist and the spiritual formation learner I am jives so nicely with Shane’s outlook, and what he does as his life’s work. Writers, artist, thinkers, creatives, musicians, and so forth bring vital perspective to Christian Spirituality, and walking with God. Shane tends to this group, which is not an easy task.

Shane Tucker

 

Who is SHANE TUCKER?
Shane lived in Ireland for eleven years with his wife, two daughters and son. Now, he serves as Creative Director for ‘Dreamers of the Day‘ [www.dreamtoday.org] – a network utilizing the arts, spiritual disciplines, evocative messengers, and symposiums to engage people in their journey with Christ. He is passionate about seeing people live into their purpose in life, and he finds applications for that as a ‘soul friend’ (spiritual director) via Soul Friend (www.ArtistSoulFriend.com). He can be reached via either website or at shane dot tucker at gmail dot com.

Please enjoy Shane’s post, and feel free to offer your insights, comments, or questions.

Aesthetic Spirituality
by Shane Tucker

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
-ThomasMerton

We have an innate quality to notice beauty at every turn. To know that something is ugly or unattractive we must, of course, know that true beauty exists . . and in some way, to have experienced it. We resonate most strongly with that which seems to offer wholeness or a sense of completeness to our lives. That resonance may also be experienced as a deep hunger. Seldom do we know ourselves well enough to be able to express those yearnings in a coherent fashion. Itʼs in those times we need a bridge – something enabling us to connect, to integrate disparate elements into a whole. . . into a sense of being whole.

Art – any method or medium of creativity – can often serve as this necessary bridge, this connection, between what we know and what we long or yearn to know. Art gives us the tools, the words, the motion to live into what we sense is already there, but as of yet remains unseen. In this sense, art itself is a means by which we find ourselves by moving beyond ourselves. Through art (the highest sort) we are transported into places and spaces where we can lose ourselves. Itʼs a gift to be fully present to, and fully absorbed into, a situation or individual where weʼve forgotten to be concerned with our own desires or even aware of our image before others. Iʼve had a few experiences like this directly and by extension.

One of those experiences occurred three summers ago while I was attending a festival of creativity in middle England. I sought out a band I wanted to become acquainted with and unexpectedly, during their set I was in continual awe. Through their skillful use of music and visual elements, I was caught up in the moment and I forgot myself. Classic. Iʼve had similar experiences standing on green, broad, bald hilltops around Ireland as I drank in the arresting landscape around me. Another example are Christmas mornings since my three children arrived on the scene. Experiencing the uninhibited enthusiasm and joy demonstrated by these little people as they open gifts and share their excitement with the family – these are moments of pure bliss.

In times such as these we are given the gift of losing ourselves . . more specifically, concern for ourselves. The end, however, is not the experience of forgetting oneself in beauty, wonder, and awe; or even that of knowing a deep resonance which affords us the equivalent of tonal tonic through lifeʼs journey. Itʼs knowing Him. I hear, see, touch, taste and feel the Creator in this God-saturated existence called life. Heʼs made Himself ever- present in the created order and ever-accessible. He has, in fact, painted Himself into the portrait, written Himself into the narrative and sung Himself into our lives – even into existence, in Jesus Christ. When we recognize His overtures of love, our moment is to respond whole-heartedly, in trust, recklessly abandoned. In His hands, we then become the artwork by which He invites others to lose and find themselves in Love.

“Those who want to save their lives will lose them. But those who lose their lives for me will find them.” – Jesus, Matthew 16:25

by Shane Tucker / Soul Friend (Spiritual Director) / www.ArtistSoulFriend.com

Thank you, Shane.

Fitting in or feeling Invisible?

Does she fit in too well? (love that smile btw. funny lady.)

 

This is a short post, but I hope you can help me with some responses.

The topic is “Fitting in”. Usually it means things click. You feel comfortable and at home. But can that ever merge or morph into “feeling invisible”? So, maybe you’ve been somewhere, at a job, in a group, or whatever, and something happened.

You went from feeling basically comfortable in your surroundings, to feeling overlooked or under appreciated. Maybe like you blend too well.

In what circumstances (if any) have you felt invisible?

What are your ideas about why that is?

Speaking Event Sept. 26th

Author Ed Cyzewski and I will be teaming up to teach, pray, and experience God’s word, together with you, at this public event sponsored by the Redeemer Church, and called “The Basics of Reading and Praying Through the Bible.”

Redemption Church (link)

How should one read the Bible and study it?

What are spiritual practices, what are they for, and how does the use of the mysteriously named Lectio Divina benefit prayer and meditation on God’s word?

This Sunday, you will learn and experience this helpful prayer exercise for yourself with Lisa, and be better able to understand and utilize the Bible with Ed. You will be better equipped and motivated to grow closer to the Almighty God of the Bible through this engaging event.

If you’d like to find out more, or come, link here to the facebook event page.

No way to make it this time?

Contact Ed, or me to visit your group in the near future. See you soon! 🙂

(always wanted to see one of these ) Christian tradition diagram

Ever wonder how, or if, the Baptists are related to the Methodists? Or the Quakers from the Mennonites?

I’ve been enjoying this site, and I subscribe to their blog, Parchment and Pen. Today they sent an interesting diagram of Christian tradition in tree form (family tree of God?)

Christian tradition diagram (click to get to their site)

Is this a crab-apple tree? Or the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Or maybe….

Just kidding.

😉

Any thoughts or comments?

Training for change: “The Show about Me” part III

conversation is not about you

I use the word “training” here, because if I used the word “discipline” it would be an immediate turn off. You may just click away in a huff or something. I’m tip toeing around for you this time.

Discipline has a “dirty word” feel to it now, right? We seem to associate it with pain for the sake of gain, or something too hard, or bothersome. Really, a disciple is a person in a training mode, learning, and absorbing things meant to improve him and his life.

This post is the third installment to deconstruct and renovate our lives that have taken on the “personal reality show” traits. This default setting we have to center our lives around our desires, wants, needs, and shortcomings, keep us stuck. Gone is the life-giving existence that comes from understanding that Reality is the realm of God–It’s not about us. We are invited into a richer, deeper Story that isn’t gained or lost with our successes or failures. God is the Star of the show, and it’s his Story. This is a life lived in the realm of peace/shalom. Lay your burdens down, friend.

You may have some ideas in mind of what life looks like once this changeover has been made. I’m hoping you’ll share your ideas about it. I’ll 5 ways a person lives out a greater Story, and maybe we can all learn something.

When you live the bigger Story…

1. You regularly  make and keep unlikely friends.

You don’t see people as tools for your own purposes, or to satisfy your desires and needs. No one is beneath you in the social strata, because you can well see that it’s not your story, but God’s. God’s Story includes all people, so you do too.

2. You regularly give to those who cannot repay you.

(Volunteer) Your actions stop being about personal gratification and getting ahead in some way. Giving freely punctuates this idea. You realize that generosity is life-giving in its own right, and it’s a win-win situation.

3. You shut up more, ask questions, and wait for the full answer.

Talking with people isn’t about saying something, being heard, or pitching some kind of agenda. It’s about the other person. You ask questions to know better, to understand better, and you give up the selfishness inherent in small story communication.

4. You stop self-promoting.

Making sure others see you in a certain light doesn’t balloon anymore as a thrust of your interactions. Sharing has nothing to do with making yourself look good, or impressing people. The self-centeredness is gutted from your words and actions, making life about something far bigger and better than you.

5. You listen.

In small stories we listen to get an edge. Sometimes what we call “listening” is really just pausing briefly out of some rudimentary convention, so that when we speak, we can be better heard (but only because we aren’t literally talking over someone). It boils down to merely “listening” for a chance to speak; but this is not genuine listening. When we listen, we change. The interaction makes us somehow different than we were before.

If you train with these 5 ways of interacting and seeing Reality in mind, it will give you no choice but to improve your life as you yield to a bigger Story.

Share your thoughts…

Banqueting Table, Part 3: Factory Food and Slow Cookers

Mass produced factory food, simply re-heat.

I’m not a big fan of prepared foods, like the one you see above.

But, I have to admit, usually when food comes from a factory, it’s quick and simple.

It’s also sealed with cellophane and full of sodium to keep it “fresh”. How long could you keep this “meal” before heating it? …months for sure, maybe a year. It’s a bit of a one-size-fits-all cuisine approach, right?

A frozen meal typically comes tidy, in a divided plate. So, no mess, no worries. There’s no long prep time, no plate, just a piece of plastic flatware is needed-say a “spork”–to cover any food texture. One might not even need a napkin, if one eats it…calmly. But, I think, you’d have to be on the verge of starvation, have non working taste buds, or have little experience with eating delectable food if you wish to devour this quickly. Not too many salivate over or pine for pre-fab food, like only a mother a factory could manufacture.

When people want to “serve up” the love of God, or share the gospel can’t the same thing happen?

Serving up God. yum... ?

Sometimes not only are the workers few, but maybe what workers there are don’t know enough about the richness of the God’s banqueting table. Maybe they’ve been using the spiritual microwave too much. Or maybe they aren’t patient enough to let God into their kitchen and make the meal, and show ’em how it’s done.

It takes a while, it seems he likes slow-cooker and long roasting recipes. (Ask Moses or Joseph about that one.) Sometimes the longer process of becoming a lot better in the kitchen, and letting God be the Chef de Cuisine, doesn’t seem like the smartest or most efficient move for a ministry. “What, spend long hours in the hot kitchen? Chop vegetables, mince, simmer, sauté, reduce…that could take, well, heck, years! We’re trying to help people, here!”

Well, we might give them something to eat, “really quick,” but how edible is it? Is it healthy or good for them? Will it cause stomach cramps and diarrhea? Will they only be able to serve up the same sort of thing? Will we get to the point of creating and serving the kind of spiritual food that God specializes in–the kind we created with him at his side, just like Abba used to make?

Can we reflect God properly by serving up convenient, ready-made, spiritual fast-food?

I’m doubtful.

What if we tried a sumptuous slow roast?

What if we could mentor (disciple) willing helpers (pilgrims/Jesus followers) and give them a solid, theological, narrative framework (God’s Story) from which to see their reality: God’s present Kingdom, and his Kingdom to come.

What if things marinated, and the juices got savory and settled down deep into the meat, rather than inviting others to dig into some version of pre-fab nosh because, the slow cooker style just won’t suit our time frame and ambitions?

Would we be able to offer something closer to the nature and heart of God the slow cook way?

(For our good and theirs.)

Would we be changed to be more to his likeness in the process of that?

Oh, yes, it’s far messier to prepare, serve, and eat! It takes prep time, long hours of cooking, setting the table nicely. We’ll need plenty of napkins and perhaps a wet washcloth or two. Plus, don’t forget we’re talking about REAL people. There are spills, squirts, and stains. Life is MESSY. Even good relationships are fraught with various difficulties. What about the clean up? A sticky, gooey mess for sure. And maybe dental floss will be handy to keep around. Real meat gets stuck in one’s teeth.

Oh, but there’s this: it’s really satisfying, and tastes fantastic.

Messy, and slow cooked

Add some veggies or a large salad to the slow-cooked entrée you see above, and you have an excellent, tasty, and messy meal many will really enjoy. If the company is good, they might even come back for more.

What do you think about it?

Have you ever been in a situation where it seemed like you had to choose one way or the other?

What happened?

Does the slow-cooker way seem out of reach? (Does this post need a follow up with specifics? Let me know.)

Comments, ideas, responses…

thanks for reading.

Banqueting Table, Part 2: Thoughts on Genius

I have developed a bit of an old fashion view of “genius”. Roman empire times “old fashion”. “Genius” was a term given to an outside entity of sorts that basically lived in the walls, and helped out with problems and other matters with a “spark of genius,” a kind of superior energy and creativity that had to come through a human vehicle, and come to fruition cooperatively. A person who “had a genius” had to listen to that genius. His brilliant triumphs would not be completely his doing, nor would his failures of genius. Some of the blame or credit was due to the genius. It had a way of keeping people more human I do believe, not puffed up with vanity and hubris, or unduly in despair for a bit of a lazy genius.

Somewhere along the line (I’m guess during the human-centered “reason” and experimentation of the Enlightenment Age) the term genius came to mean “a person who has brilliance”. A deep shift happened, if you noticed. Genius sourced in the person alone. “How advanced and sophisticated,” some might say. But wait. No one could imagine the stress that would put on people, especially highly creative people (think: writers, poets, artists, inventors, innovators, thinkers, etc.) who would now have to be solely responsible for producing genius worthy outcomes, and items, repeatedly.

Ever wonder why genius and madness are so closely tied? I think, that’s part of it. It’s hard to separate the creative aspect from the non creative aspect in a person. It’s hard to not take failure (or success) personally. I do believe it (“genius” or the process of the initiation of the truly great) has something to do with an intertwining, interaction, or crossover point with us and the Divine (our Creator).

A better, and less destructive way to define “genius” is to realize our success and failure is partly our doing, but partly something that comes to us and overshadows us. It’s better to realize the “gift of genius,” which would be not at all personal brilliance that start or ends in an individual, but instead an ability to be aware, receptive, and collaborative with others, and most importantly what must be higher and beyond our ourselves. A “touch of genius” could be said to be when everything involved hits just the right harmonic cord, and something revolutionary is borne, something is unearthed, or a creative act generates new life.

If you were to say, “Lisa, you’re a GENIUS!” I’d smile, and feel flattered for about 2 seconds. Then I’d realized the bigger truth going on. Very little has much to do with me. I’m not a genius, but sometimes I listen and detect better than at other times. To people who’ve heard my thoughts, ideas, or read my papers, they might hear some original thinking, or novel theories, but I really doubt I was the first source for them. At best it was a strange cooperation of experiences, education, preparation, creative exchange and communication, and a touch of something I can’t put my fingers around, and will not attempt to take credit for.

This “invention” pictured here below is a simple example of just a bit of a “touch of genius”. Check it out.

Why is it? It uses resources, readily available, to move beyond their supposed potential for a well-needed purpose. Is it every paper clips destiny? Probably not, but with a “touch of genius” perhaps, a they serve a purpose that is quite helpful and transcends the assumed norm, the typical, or the mundane.

witness a "touch of genius"

photo source

The people of our interactions deserve the same kinds of treatments and communications as these seemingly simple paper clips–At work, play, ministry, home life, social life, and all the rest. It’s the spark of genius, in cooperation with what is above and beyond us, that is needed to produce not what is hoped for or expected, but what is just out of reach, and just beyond our human imaginations. Groups and Communities can link up with “genius” too.

We can only see what’s been done, or what’s right in front of us. “Genius” doesn’t work that way. It’s a way of collaboration, even relinquishment to do the unexpected, even with simple “instruments” to create the extraordinary.

What thoughts do you have about genius?

If this is new to you, or fascinating in some way (positive or negative), please link to this article.

thanks for reading.