Change and Consistency

Where I live, there’s an art studio where children go to learn to paint, sculpt and create.  Each season, a new crop of clay creatures (a 3-legged alligator, a lopsided bird, a sitting penguin) are nestled underneath the bushes in front of the building.  I love the thought of how the children must look forward to displaying their creations in this secret sculpture jungle.

One thing, though, that’s really bothered me about this art studio is a cornstalk-skirted woman with a paper bonnet, holding a basket, who presides over the sculpture jungle.  The contents of her basket changes with the seasons, but she’s always there – faded, broken here and there, looking rather ratty.  Sometimes I sigh as I go by, tired of seeing her and wishing they would for Pete’s sake take her down or replace her with something new!  I admit that I’m a change fanatic in some areas of my life.  I love, love, love to rearrange my office and home furniture.  About every 3 months, I get the “rearrange bug” and I *must* rearrange and clear out clutter.

Recently, I stepped back, though, and thought about that cornstalk-skirted woman.  I began to think about her from the point of view of a child.  I remember how much consistency and familiarity meant to me as a child.  Small things like seeing a cornstalk-skirted woman each week, must add a sense of stability for the young art students.  Life is so full of change. And as we grow up, the change and movement increases so that we might tend to grasp at and hold on to the familiar in an attempt to secure our own stability.  We might mourn the loss of a familiar building or tree.  Visiting a childhood home or town might bring up complex emotions and some core stability is shifted.  (Of course, we must remember that our stability is only reliably found in Christ.)  As adults, how are we modeling assurance and stability for the children around us?

I’m understanding more the need for stability and consistency for children.  I’m coming to appreciate that cornstalk-skirted woman as a symbol of the preservation of innocence.  So, carry on, steadfast cornstalk-skirted woman.  Stand firm!

As an adult, what do you think about change and consistency?

A Different Kind of Christmas

Last year was a very different Christmas for me. My husband was out of town for a few weeks, so I decided to do all of the fun Christmas things I never seemed to have time for in the past – Middle School plays, chorals, shopping, cookie exchanges, galas. I did a lot of festive activity and it was wonderful! I was busy and happy.

This year, I noticed myself getting more and more anxious as holidays approached. I had planned on trying to repeat last year’s experience, but honestly… I don’t want to go out a lot this year. I don’t feel very Christmas-y. I don’t want to spend money on event tickets. My schedule doesn’t even seem to be matching up to the events that I went to last year. Why did it seem so hard this year to make it happen? It all felt so forced. I finally asked myself, “What DO I want? What do I need THIS year?” Last year, I needed some busyness and company to stave off loneliness since my husband was out of town. This year, my husband is here, my extended family won’t be in town for Christmas, and I’m feeling burned out with the rush of a very busy 2012. This Christmas, I need peace. I need some quiet and space. So, I’ve decided to focus on Advent this year. I went out and bought a pretty candle to burn while I read my Advent devotional each morning. The thought of a ritual, something special, every day is so appealing. Those little preparations are bringing me joy and they just feel right.

In naming what I needed, I gave myself permission to back off on the pressure to make plans. I’m hoping that the extra space in my calendar will also allow for some more time with people I love. I’m feeling at ease… looking forward to a different Christmas.

What do YOU need this Christmas?