Monday, March 15, 2010

Couch to 5K with Heiroglyphics

Found Art: Discovering Beauty in Foreign Places
Free review copy provided by Zondervan

I've been reading Leeana Tankersley's new book, Found Art; Finding Beauty in Foreign Places. In it, the author describes the (sometimes uncomfortable) process of discovering her deepest self at the same time she discovers the country and culture of Bahrain, where she and her newlywed husband are stationed for Naval duty. Each chapter highlights an instance when Leeana must see, learn, adjust, contemplate, embrace or let go of a part of herself.

By the time their one-year tour of duty passes Leeana has gone through so many subtle transformations that returning to her hometown of San Diego is almost like arriving in a foreign country. America hasn't changed, but Leeana has. The journey through her habits and perspectives, her travels with the Lord, and her winnowing experiences overseas have honed her into a somewhat different person now.

I particularly connected with Leeana's encouragement to view all of life's circumstances in light of the grand artwork God has in mind. In her chapter entitled, "peace", she writes:
It's strange how often life requires something foreign to connect us with something that, in the end, was so close all along. Sometimes we need a change of scenery in order to see what is really there inside us- all the parts and pieces of ourselves that have somehow been lost but are in desperate need of finding again. (pgs. 143-144)

The collage above is my recent experience of "foreign things."

Two years ago, when a very dear friend confided in me that they no longer trusted the veracity of the Bible, I handled the conversation very well. On the surface.
These were common misgivings in one’s faith-journey, I knew. Nothing to get up in arms about. Nothing to sweat over. Right?
Internally however, I was a mess. I was sweating. And churning. I felt blindsided and scattered. I sensed the footing of our fellowship crumbling. I did not know how to behave with this new dynamic coloring everything between us. I wanted a passionate pursuing relationship with the Lord and I wanted a running mate. My friend wanted to be my running mate, but was running in another direction. We’d been transported to a completely foreign place. (Egyptian textile)
Two years later I'm still in the foreign land. Not feeling much more savvy about how to maneuver on these streets. Still with very little idea how to be comfortable in this place.
Like a 21st century American plopped in the middle of ancient Egypt, everything feels strange. I want to learn to thrive in this place, not just survive, but I feel as though all the instructions are written in heiroglyphics. If only I knew how to read them. (b/w girl and magnifying glass)

I'm also joining my soon-to-be-40-year-old husband for our first 5K this spring. This is new territory.
I've never liked running for the sake of running. Team sports, tennis, sprint running to perform a specific goal- I can handle that. Running just to feel my legs and lungs burn... nope, not interested.
But with the vigor of youth leaving us rapidly, we decided to buck up and work our bodies toward a common goal, however small. Enter the 5K.

I have to learn the runner's lingo as well as find something about running to enjoy so I can see this through to race day. Mostly training on the treadmill, I seem to go nowhere, I look at the bland vanilla walls of my basement, I plug away and try not to fall off convincing myself that this is fun. Or, if it can’t be fun, then at least it is something beneficial. The Apostle Paul’s words about buffeting my body get a lot of playtime when I’m working out.
The body hurts, blocking the time out of my day is sometimes costly, the other things I’ve had to let slide in order to make training more of a priority… are all factors that make me want to just quit. Trust me that there are many things I’d rather be doing than logging mileage on these Nikes. (treadmill)

But there’s a glimmer of hope: I am beginning to enjoy it. I have come to look forward to my treadmill time as undisturbed quiet time with God. I feel my flab jiggle and shake and it inspires me to push a little harder, run just a bit longer, knowing that in the end there will be the reward of better health and knowing I accomplished what I set out to do.

Spiritually, as I have engaged my friend over these last two years, I've felt the jiggle and bump of useless weight on my soul. The laurels I rested on, the spirituality I clung to, my misconceptions about how I fit into the universe (in the very center, thank you very much!) really only added more weight to lug along this journey into a foreign land. God's been speaking to me that the one who travels lightest travels farthest. Like the Hebrews in the wilderness, my needs are supplied daily by the Provider. I don't need to pack provisions. They'd be useless anyway. And, like the book of Hebrews promises, setting aside laziness- both physical and spiritual- and journeying with faith and patience results in my inheritance. Heb. 6:12 (medals)

These journeys have become a sanctuary of sorts. A place for me to meet with God and seek refuge. A place to gain the sustenance I need for one more step along the path. And who knows how long these paths will stretch.

Do you have a "travel memoir" to share? Interested in winning your own copy of Found Art?
Pop over to They Hang Like Paper Lanterns for details.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Art vs. Social Justice?

I was with Heather Goodman the day she walked through Yad Vashem, Israel's memorial to the Holocaust. She writes about it in The Curator, exploring the purpose of art, and whether pursuing creativity is a worthy pursuit in the face of social injustice. You can read her thoughts here.