Back on the first day of 2017, my husband and I wished one another a happy new year, as one does. On February 1, we said happy new year again, laughingly agreeing that January was on some level just an arbitrary starting point, and each month since then, it’s been a bit of a game to be the first to offer the little blessing to the other. We’ve already done that TEN times (!!), and I know that in the blink of an eye we’ll be back at January all over again. Before the full onslaught of the Hallothankmas season, though, I want to catalog a few high points from the happy new experiences I’ve had so far in 2017.
Last February, I spent a weekend in Montreat, NC, in a 3-day workshop called “Illuminating the Text,” where I got to put my own two eyes and my own two hands on the exquisite St. John’s Bible. This class was the next in my progress toward a Certificate in Spiritual Formation through the Center for Lifelong Learning at Columbia Theological Seminary. The wise and wonderful Dr. Ann Laird Jones led us through art experiences inspired by the text and illustrations of that exquisite bible, and I truly felt like a kid in a candy store.
In June, I returned to Montreat again to spend an entire week making pottery with Ann and liturgical banners with her colleague Hannah Garrity. Another friend and CTS classmate, Ally Markotich, came along as well and wrote so thoughtfully about the experience on her blog, Creative Soul Kindling. I returned home inspired to create my own art and was fortunate to have summer access to an unused classroom at my church, North Decatur Presbyterian.
July brought a trip with best friends Jake and Marlene Pomeroy to the Wild Goose Festival for four days of art, music and story. It was, as the organizers promise on their website, a “transformational experience grounded in faith-inspired social justice,” and a fun, energizing time. Later that month I led a series of kids’ papermaking workshops on behalf of Paint Love, one of my favorite art initiatives ever.
Things really got hopping in August – I began an eight week course with Atlanta Mindfulness Institute, found a great new friend and creative collaborator in Darci Jaret at Park Avenue Baptist Church, returned to weekly volunteering at Refuge Family Literacy, and started teaching art again for adults at the county jail. Time turned into September in the blink of an eye, which brought another unique opportunity: a weekend workshop called “The Painting Experience,” that was all about the process of letting image come forth from the self through the brush and onto the canvas. I also began a weekly internship at Centerform, a co-working space and “dynamic community of Christian change makers.” And just like that it was October, where on that new year’s day, I attended a silent meditation and yoga retreat with my mindfulness group at Hard Labor Creek State Park, a hidden gem of a state park just an hour away from my home.
I’ve had a lot of new starts and new things going on in 2017! As I look over this list, I can see why I’ve felt fairly scattered for much of this year – I’ve been sowing a lot of seeds and kind of thrown my very self all over the place in the process. There is still more to come, with another course at Montreat this month on Celtic Spirituality, ongoing commitments to teaching art, holiday and family events… perhaps it will not be until sometime after 2018’s first happy new year wishes that I will have a sense of where all of this seed-sowing will lead, what the garden will yield.