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  • Shanley McConnell

How to Create a Work of Art with/(in) the Waiting.

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Sometimes, when all for the world this life seems a bit overwhelming, I cycle to the Art Store on Banbury Road to buy a canvas. A thick, box-cut canvas. Stretched-out wide. White. I balance it on the bike rails and ride home to left-over acrylics and a room without ventilation. I sit beneath a desk fan, and mix the paints. Sometimes on a palette, sometimes direct to the canvas. Brush-stroke after brush-stroke, I lather it in color. Bright, muted-------pastels.


And then, after the heat of the room has settled on the back of my neck, and I feel the weight of its heaviness rest on my shoulders, I lay the brush down. Watch the bristles separate in the murky water. A used, washed-out peanut-butter jar. The chipped tea-cup. I take a sip and wait------


Not yet finished, this art is only a first draft.


I think about the waiting. There is a time for everything, and yet, in these long afternoons, I think about how, in the waiting, everything can feel a little unsettling. Uncertain.


You can bet on it these days, every morning when I rise, I hear the quiet unrest. Hear the rhythm of raindrops on the window, willing it to wash away the spider and her web. Hear the sound of heavy skies cascading again over the edge of the sill outside my bedroom window.


I hear the waiting in the clouds when the sun darts in and out from behind the grey. Hear the waiting in the walking to and from, here and there. Wonder at its place in the chaos. The stress of middle-ness.


Sometimes I hear: Do not wait; the time is now. Time will never be 'just right." Other times I hear, But wait. Waiting is for learning; for finding contentment so that you are prepared for the answer when it comes.


And most days, I feel there must be an element of truth in both. Waiting isn't passive. It takes place after an act of passion, and stands committed in the follow-up. Waiting is knowing that something must follow what has come before, and, however curious, realizing that the time between the answer of what awaits is precious. Continuous.


Sometimes I wonder if we will always be in waiting. If there is a cycle renewing-------how answers spur us into more action and this leads to an awareness of (and engagement with) opportunities around us. Even if these opportunities arise with the pursuit of personal ideas.


Waiting is an experience. About beginning a work of art and waiting for it to dry before you can begin the next layer of paint.


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Wait for the Lord. Be strong and let your heart take courage.

~ Psalm 27: 14


I know there are a lot of things that require waiting. At the moment, I am waiting for many things: the return of a recent report, the outcome of a job-application and consequent interview, the moving-in date for a new flat.


Even still, this waiting can come with its own inner-workings. The middle ground between inspiration and finished product. A place of contemplation------where reflection lends itself to redrafting.


I think about Jesus. His life is testimony to the art of waiting. He waited on his Father in Heaven for the right time to reveal himself as the Son of God. And even before the world knew, Jesus knew. He knew his purpose for coming to earth. He lived in communion with the Father in the waiting.


And now, we are invited, as Sons and Daughters of God, to engage in the waiting with the knowledge that eternity awaits us. Where nothing will be hidden, and all will be revealed.


There is no greater joy-----or peace-----than living this reality. I pray, my friends, that the surpassing strength and courage in knowing that God is working all things out for you is your glory, wholeness and grace in this season.



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