So we did a thing…a scary thing for both of us; a thing that touched the most vulnerable places in each of us, but also a thing that set out souls on fire. And, like a fire, it lit the world around us, and so we named it “SHINE”.
We set intentions: helping women like us find their light, connect, with divine light, and share that light with others. We brainstormed workshops like Kintsugi bowl art where broken things are made beautiful by priceless gold just as the Savior mends our broken places with his “gift without price”.
We wanted to explore them to creative pursuits like Art Journaling and affirmation cards, and help them understand that creativity is akin to becoming more like Heavenly Father, the great creator. We planned a workshop that helped them see that they need to be willing to constantly pray for the gift of light, of inspiration and personal revelation, and that not doing so would be like living in a house with electricity and only turning on the light once in a while (Thank You, Sarah Ban Breathnach!)
We wanted to allow them time to journal each experience as another exercise in finding and sharing their light.
We planned a workshop where we took 100 photographs of the same area, reinforcing the lessons of finding beauty in broken things and also that looking for as many perspectives as possible is a form of finding light. It was our favorite preparatory activity, and then we scrapped it in favor of tightening up a schedule and leading them through an experience. I took these photos in an area full of broken things and love them!
With the schedule and workshop ideas nailed down, we made a long list of supplies and went on a shopping trip, experiencing the joy of little children in our fabulous finds, and seeing the themes of light, and beauty in broken things in every thrift store and craft shop.
We ended that day exhausted, but excited, and each left with a list of assignments to complete before meeting again in a few days.
We knew we would have to “practice”some of the workshops, in order to really know how much time they would take, so we set up a time to do that. And then, this beautiful thing we were trying to do broke. As as it did so did our hearts.
We think that a few hairline cracks had begun before the shattering, but in our joy and our belief in what we were doing, we pushed ahead. We sat together in my friend’s artist space ready to try our hand at affirmation cards, and addressed the fact that the date would have to change due to an unforeseen circumstance, and that led to discussions of stress, health, and questions about what we really wanted to do. We could see ourselves wanting to just throw in the towel, but we weren’t ready to do that yet.
We toured the venue, and I was discouraged at how rundown and “un-pretty” it was. My friend reminded me that it too was a broken thing and that what we were doing would make it beautiful. That touched my heart.
Then we sat down to do a task we were asking the attendees to do, and it sank us. The joy we usually felt in artistic creativity was sapped by the rigid parameters necessary to hold down art supply costs, and keep the workshop within the time limit allotted. We spent several hours, created a few things and even though we were trying to be positive, we both felt the stress.
Finally, my friend started asking “Do we still really want to do this?” And then she was honest, and vulnerable enough to say she wanted to quit, even though that touched tender places in her. She asked what I felt deep down if I was truly being honest. IN truth, it was a complex tangle of emotions and thoughts for me.
There were things I’d loved about the process of planning the retreat, and I was excited about the presentations I’d be doing. On the other hand, I could see costs rising an knew the toll it was taking on me time-wise. And I wanted to be sensitive to my friend, and support her if she just needed encouragement.
When she spoke the words out loud, “I don’t want to do the retreat, there were places in me that could finally release the breaths I hadn’t realized I’d been holding. It rang true. It made us sad, but also happy! We talked about why we would both have felt the Spirit so often in planning everything, and as we talked, we realized things we had gained from the experience. We’d had an expectation for what that inspiration would lead to. It turned out that Heavenly Father had a whole different idea.
And the part I love most? The beautiful lesson we’d been trying to create for others, was created anew for us. It was a lesson we could not have learned any other way --a gigantic metaphor of broken things made beautiful—a broken bowl made into Kintsugi art; photos of broken things made into art; and a broken idea made into beautiful spiritual growth for us.
And there’s this new thing we might want to do...
We’ll see what Heavenly Father thinks about that!