Pulling Down Deep Heaven: Part 2

If I climbed up

to the tippy-top of a tree,

and held out my bucket-

Could I catch the sun-drops,

and keep them with me…

…then share with others

at the base of the tree?

-jpe

If any creative act, (be it visual, musical, theatrical, written or otherwise), is a definitively spiritual endeavor, then there are certain qualities to that activity that are common to all of us.  For one, there’s a sense that a battle is going on. At the very least, the effort involved in climbing to the tippy top of the tree to pull down heaven is hard work and can be very exhausting.

Lately I have felt, alongside the exhilaration of creating, an increasing weariness. Participating in an art show, painting commissions, looking for and recording beauty can be very tiring in a manner different than other work tires.  My husband read one of his incredible short stories to the students and faculty at my school where I teach. He recounted how exhausting that was, to offer his work “out there” in the world.  As we drove home from this event, the weariness was palpable. Every time we talk to our daughter at college as she studies music, she is exhausted, pulling long hours in the practice room, theory tests, exams, and an unbelievable performing schedule. And my music educator friend, Sheri, told me in our swim team conversation, how tired and worn out she is at the holidays teaching music and performing in various holiday events in the area.

I am learning from a wonderful book by Steven Pressfield, that art is war. His book, titled, The War of Artaffirms the spiritual nature of our creative commitment to bring beauty into the world. He speaks in a martial tone, rallying us as if we artists are, in actuality, soldiers fighting a cosmic war.  He outlines the weapons needed to pull down deep heaven, though he does not use that specific phrase.

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The effort involves showing up to the page or canvas, doing our scales, honing our craft, working on technique, practicing, preparing. And then we must offer it, share it, put it out there, get in the ring or out on the dance floor, run the race, fight the good fight, never giving up no matter how beat down we may feel by critics, reviews, circumstances, or our own thoughts.  We are to fight the resistance that comes in any form it may throw at us to keep us down, or out of the playing field.

Being engaged even on a small level in pulling down deep heaven is no mere trifling. It requires a soldierly mindset mixed with childlike mirth as we place one foot in front of the other up the tree, climbing ’til we reach the tippy top.  The climb down may be harder…carrying what we have gathered there from the heavens, and then summoning the courage to share it with others.  It requires miles and miles of walking or riding on a donkey to an unfamiliar town, to give birth to our heaven-sent burden in less than ideal surroundings and circumstances.  We are to write, draw, paint, make music in and around our messy lives.  None of it seems to go the way we imagined or think it should. I have a hunch Mary, the mother of Jesus, may have thought this as well. Yet we are to continue on this journey, like Mary and Joseph, until it is time.  Time for what heaven wants to bring to us and through us, be it a babe, a sonnet, a drawing, a song.

May we have the martial spirit of Mary in our hearts and daily lives this season.  May we be encouraged by the thought that our exhaustion in creative endeavors is due to the fact that we are in the fight: the calling and work of pulling down deep heaven.

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I wrote the above several days before Friday, December 14th, the day someone entered a school in Connecticut with the express purpose of killing.  Children, adults, his aim was all.  If ever there was proof that a battle is going on, and that we need to engage in that battle to bring down the light of Deep Heaven to shine in these dark days, it is now.

Rise up, oh Artists of all kinds…Rise up and wage battle with the darkness! For we do not fight in vain!

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*If you missed Part 1 of this series and would like to read it, click here.

The Dreaming Tree

I sit beneath the dreaming tree
letting heart run wild and free.

The path to here is long but sure.
For crazy days this is my cure.

Lean and long, grow and gaze,
Wonder at how beauty plays

On dappled thoughts here and there.
My tree whispers love and care.

-jpe (jennifer pilkington edwards)

My Dad’s Poem in response to this one:

Your Dreaming Tree means much to me
Because of it I long to see
My own dazzling Dreaming Tree
To sit beneath and once again a poet be
For time and care and pain, all three
Have robbed my soul of dreams of He
Whose very soul made my tree.

-edward lee pilkington 8/4/2012

And then, my response to his poem:

Dear dad, be assured of thy dreaming tree
For it grows beside my own, so tall and willowy.

Though many storms have bent it low
It sways in the breeze with graceful flow.

Knots and scars have made it strong
Weathered bark withstands the throng.

Within its willows live countless ones
Who through its branches have seen the Son.

I know one day you will once again be
dreaming under your willow tree.

When time and care and pain is o’er
We’ll sit  ‘neath our trees on that glistening shore.

And write our poems of the Beauty we see
Then dance the days together, just my daddy and me.

-jpe 8/4/2012

A Little Poem

I chanced to see
the trees dancing
in the breeze.

Said I to the trees
could we dance
together please?

And I curtsied
to the boughs
of the trees.

-jpe

Life Is A Garden

Walking down my favorite lane this morning, my thoughts flitted over the empty wheat field, and landed in the garden area near the end of Silver Dapple Lane.  Mr. Whicker has given this end of his field to his tenants who live in homes on his land.  They have a thriving garden full of corn, tomatoes, squash, beans, and tons of other veggie goodies.

The gardeners were out working in the morning cool.  As I walked by I told them how wonderful their garden looked.  The man gardener responded, “We’re just trying to keep up with it!”

Understanding his meaning, I turned to walk back down the lane and reflected on how his phrase was exactly what I’ve been thinking lately, and how very much like a garden, this life we live IS.

There was a time, in the cool of spring and youth, that I prepared the soil (college) in which many seeds would be planted for a future life.  Those young twenties years seemed full of energy to plant and weed and tend the small garden.

But something crazy happens mid-to-late summer…the garden goes POOF and takes off in every direction.  You can’t weed enough, harvest fast enough, prune enough, fight pestilence and drought hard enough.  You lean on your hoe and wonder, “Why did I plant so much?  I can’t keep up with it.”

I’m trying to remember, in my mid-to-late summer life these days, in my POOFED garden, that I am actually only an under-gardener.  (Is that a real word?) There’s a Master Gardener tending the garden of my life, my husband’s life, and our children’s lives.  It ISN’T all up to me.

I just need to keep weeding here and there, watering daily, harvesting what I can, and tending as I’m able.

P.S.  The above drawing was made entirely with Neocolor Watercolor Crayons. Well, except for the little bit of the girl and my name in a waterproof fine-liner.  But did you know, that you can splatter with these crayons??  Here’s how:

Take your wet watercolor brush (fairly wet, but not too sopping) and brush it several times on the tip of the crayon to get the pigment on it.  Then splatter away! Too cool.