“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”
― Frederick Buechner, Now and Then: A Memoir of Vocation
July 7-19. I had the pleasure of serving as an artist-in-residence at the Texas Youth Academy (TYA) of the United Methodist Church. TYA is a two-week summer program for selected high school students to live in intentional Christian community with adult mentors, artists and leaders on the campus of Southwestern University. For two-weeks we shared life together, days patterned by the sacred practices of our faith with the intent of growing in love and understanding of God.
Each morning began with morning prayer in the chapel before heading to breakfast. Every evening we worshiped together and shared in the Great Thanksgiving/Communion. In between we delighted in table fellowship, recreation (lots of frisbee), theology lectures by professors & teachers from around the country, rest, service, silence, creativity, holy conversation, story sharing and so much more.
TYA was modeled after the Duke Youth Academyn(DYA), which I had the privilege of serving as a mentor for in 2008 and 2009. I was delighted when I was invited to TYA as an artist-in-residence, because I remember at DYA being intrigued by and deeply drawn to the artist role... wanting to embrace my identity as artist/creative, but fearful of it and insecure about it at the same time.
Without a doubt, I had a great time being apart of this community again this year. I led 5 Mixed Media/Encaustic workshops, collaborated on an experience of workshop-through-art (I invited people to help create a community graffiti prayer wall... loved it!), shared some insights about being a good neighbor to those are experiencing homelessness and gave part of the lecture on New Creation.
Loved every part of it, especially the drive along 290 (hence the horse, cow and sunflower photographs) and cultivating space for everyone to tap into their creativity through an art practice that has meant so much to me on my journey with God the past few months.
It was a time of being still, listening, healing, delighting, crying, tending, remembering, affirming, resting and claiming... it was good.
I even got an opportunity to go to "Hope Outdoor Gallery" on Castle Hill in Austin, Texas, to view the graffiti art there and even paint some words onto the wall myself. I included some photos below, but will blog more and share more later. That time, as well, was very good.
While at TYA I was introduced to Bless the Space Between Us by John O'Donohue. It has been my daily companion. I prayed these words through tears the first time I read his "A Morning Offering," and I continue to pray them still today...
... May my mind come alive today
to the invisible geography
that invites me to new frontiers,
to break the dead shell of yesterdays,
to risk being disturbed and changed.
May I have the courage today
to live the life that I would love,
to postpone my dream no longer
but do at last what I came here for
and waste my heart on fear no more.
LOVE IS A BEAUTIFUL THING.
It was such a delight to photograph Florence and Noah, before they departed from their Houston leg of their sabbatical journey in the United States of America. They are so cool, and have an inner strength & light that cannot be ignored.
They receive most of their days loving youth who are living on the streets of Sierra Leone through the Word Made Flesh in Freetown. You can learn more about the story they are apart of HERE.
So thankful our paths crossed during their time in Houston with the community of St. John's Downtown UMC. Hope to photograph them and their community in Sierra Leone one day.
I met Mr. Henry last Saturday. He was avoiding the rain about 1/4 of a mile away from where I typically park at the studio. I noticed him immediately.
In his crisp whites and smooth tan leather shoes, sitting so peacefully under the grunge of the city bridge... my eyes were captivated and my curiosity peeked. I took a few photographs from my parking space, but I wanted to... needed to get closer, so I did.
We spoke about art, the neighborhood, he gave me some warnings about the area, physical insecurities, the weather, photography and a bit of our mutual story before I had to get going. He offered some words of encouragement and I was on my way.
I look forward to the day our paths cross again. You better believe I will be looking for him.
Lanecia A. Rouse