Dreamscape: Valley of the Dry Bones

Creativity, Dreamscape, Imagination, Ministry, purpose, renewal, vision

“The hand of the LORD came upon me and brought me out by the spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of dry bones. He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were dry. He said to me, ‘Mortal, can these bones live?’ I answered, ‘O LORD GOD, you know.’ Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD!'” ~~ Ezekiel 37:1-4

Two Fridays ago, I spent four trips back and forth between the decrepit Mountainaire Hotel and my lakeside condo’s well-maintained structure as I attempted to put the final touches on my Dreamscape installation. If my friend Sharon hadn’t been with me, I wouldn’t have been able to go clean myself up for the opening party.  I was on the go for nearly twelve hours straight, a reminder of my old days in ministry. As I was leaving at 9:30 pm, I stopped to chat with the young folks who were still going strong. About halfway through our little goodbye, my tired body gave in and Erin began to laugh: “You are SO tired! all your professionalism just washed out of you in one big flush!” Oh yes, when I go, everyone can see it!

That night I really enjoyed interacting with the artists and the people who came to visit the Low Key Arts So Many Open Houses. I got to talk about my art, my space, my dream, and my ministry of ARTANDICON, where art and faith meet at the crossroads of life.  We connected because all of us share a love for these old beautiful buildings, we all need restoration and renewal in some way, and we each need a dream to give our lives a purpose and a focus. I realized some folks knew my name because of my cousin, some had seen my article in the Arkansas Free Press, and others were excited that my work would continue beyond this event.  Perhaps it was the personal connection I was making with the visitors to the Dreamscape Bedroom, or maybe it was the spiritual ambiance of the space, but many spoke of the peace and calm they felt in my room, and the renewing, hopeful energy that they felt.  They felt I had the “best” room in the building, in the sense that it was the cleanest and the best smelling. I did come down every week the building was open to clean my room, to spray odor-ban and room freshener in it, and I also did a final spiritual cleansing with sage smoke in the American Indian tradition.  My music for the Dreamscape contributed to the room’s positive energy and had themes most of us have in our Dreams: love, peace, prosperity, relationships, hope, justice, and spiritual connections.

My bed sheets–The Dreamscape–have so many great dreams, and some very ordinary ones, but I am enjoying dreaming and sleeping on this community work of art. By opening myself to the hopes and dreams of others, I offered my gift of art and prophecy to a dry valley, to people who want to hear a fresh and inspiring word, brought in a new way, that lets them come alive again.  One lady recently lost her husband and has moved here to Hot Springs; her dream is to “live significantly.” Another wants “peace in the Middle East & people to use their turn signals.” The younger people let their bodies be traced to sleep and dream on the bed with me, the older ones would write their dreams on the bed. Some wrote Christian hopes, some wrote spiritual hopes, some wrote their name, and some wrote their pain. May God bless our dreaming and our waking, our sleeping and our working.

God’s Grocery Store

Creativity, Ministry, Spirituality, Uncategorized

“Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters, and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk, without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear and come to me; listen, so that you may live.”              ~~ Isaiah 55:1-3a

I was attending the Raney Lectures at Pulaski Heights UMC and ate the most wonderful meal: they called it “slow food,” because it’s the opposite of fast food.  The ingredients all come from local farms, are mostly organic, and they aren’t over-processed, so one can still identify the ingredients.  My friend Ted read the menu and said he would choose one of the three items listed.  I said I thought we would get all three on our plate, as one was the meat, the other the veggie, and the last the carb serving.  He was incredulous that all three wonderful items would be available.  I thought it was the first truly “holy healthy” meal I’d seen at a church function , for we usually give lip service to dedicating “all fat unto the LORD” but live as if we are at just another hog trough tailgate celebration at all our meals.

The guest speaker was the noted Christian activist and thinker Brian McLauren, who was speaking about change and the church’s response to it.  I was hoping for more of his spirituality talk, but change–the crucial topic of today’s world–is what most people seem to want to hear about. Oddly enough, I heard his message also, but It didn’t filter through my conscious mind, but through my unconscious mind as I lay dreaming overnight.

I entered a large grocery store to shop for food, but I didn’t find any meat or vegetables on the display cases. The center aisles and the frozen section were packed full of stock, but I wasn’t interested in the processed foods because of their salt, fat, and sugar contents.  I haven’t shopped the center aisles in several years since I began cooking from scratch and fixing healthier meals.  I decided to look for some artisan bread in the bakery/deli section, but I couldn’t find the high fiber/whole grain bread that I favored.  There were only a couple of mixed grain loaves, already sliced and wrapped, so I took one.  As I left, I noticed the deli lady sitting behind the empty steam counter with a covered bowl of some kind of spread and a loaf of bread for making sandwiches. She wasn’t getting a lot of action there, for she was sitting in the dark.  It was as if she didn’t really want to sell her sandwiches, but to keep them for herself.

As I left there, a transition happened in my dream, and I found myself on a high loft above the floor with my clergy pal DeeDee. We could see the people below milling about the store, and heard them saying, “I heard the truck would arrive any time now and bring the food.” But no one ever bought anything. Then DeeDee threw my loaf of bread over across an open space into another loft. I leaped over there (please don’t laugh! I can do all things in a dream, even at 63!) and clambered up onto that loft. As I held the bread in my hands, I realized that it was the only edible food in the whole store and I had the obligation to come down and share it with others.

Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35).  To give this bread to the hungry world which is searching and hungering for groceries the traditional church hasn’t provided must be the call God has placed on this latter phase of my life.  I am blessed with a unique gift that God can use to feed those who hunger and thirst for more than just the word/mental/logic/mind/brain route to faith.  Art touches the heart/feelings/spirit/body/senses–it is a holistic, whole and holy way of expressing our faith and learning about our faith.

I was thinking about perhaps teaching a class in January, and now I think using the traditional spiritual disciplines with the traditional media expressions of art would be a good way to unite the two aspects of understanding. If you are reading this, I ask for your prayers, as I have health issues that will be given a test if I am doing a weekly teaching/guiding/leading. Learning how to share that with my students, learning to work within my limits, and giving the best of what I have will be a growth opportunity for me.

Joy and Peace, Cornelia