ART: My 2021 Star Word

Dearly Beloved,

Blessings on this wintry Wednesday! The snow is breathtakingly beautiful, and every time Cora is outside, she wants to show me the tracks she makes in the snow, like Peter from Ezra Jack Keats' book The Snowy Day.

I can't help but also ache for our neighbors who have nowhere warm to stay on these freezing cold nights. I hope that you will or already have filled out our Mission & Outreach Team's questionnaire as we seek to find our purpose as a congregation in relation to mission and outreach. How is God calling us to care for our wider community in love and service? 

These last few weeks I have been reflecting on ART, my star word for 2021. I'm sure you've heard me talk about being a perfectionist (a 1 on the Enneagram). This sometimes means that I get so caught up in how the final product will turn out that I miss the gifts of process. Sure, we all love having a beautiful or compelling piece of art when we create something! But sometimes art is about taking risks, trying something different, learning how to use a new tool or to create something you've never done before. It often involves trial and error.

As one wise potter I know explained, when you're learning pottery, you're often told that when you create 10 pieces, you put 9 of them back into your raw materials and you only fire and keep one of them. This is not because the 9 pieces are worthless, but because their value is in what you learned from creating them. Their value is in the process, in experimenting and creating. Their value is not in what they are in and of themselves but in what they have taught you as you shaped them. 

I think spirituality is kind of like that. It'd be nice to have a great destination. To be able to feel like we've "made it" spiritually. But honestly, spirituality is all about the journey. Not about the particular thing we've done or created individually or together, but about how that action, how that practice, how that ritual has shaped us. 

For me, the star word "Art" at first felt a little like a disappointment. I wanted a more spiritual word like those I got the last two years: "Listening" (2020) or "Balance" (2019). But as I've reflected on it, "Art" feels like an invitation to process, to creativity, to experimentation, to embracing mistakes, learning from them and putting all of that back in with the raw materials because the art is less about what I shape or create and more about how the practice of creativity shapes me. It's taking 100 photos and only keeping 10. Doodling and noodling, taking time to create without focusing on the end result but instead delighting in the process. It's an invitation to get creative and messy with my 3 year old. 

What's your star word this year? To what is it inviting you? 

With love and gratitude,
Thandiwe