I recently breathed in the breath of fresh air that is Emily P. Freeman. Emily blew into Oregon from North Carolina and brought her blue sky. You can find her blog at Chatting at the Sky. She is author of one of my favorite recent books, A Million Little Ways. So favorite to me that about a year ago I gave away about 15 of the little beauties to my Key2Free team.*
I heard Emily speak at Faith and Cultures Writing Conference and she gave me a bushel of good things to think about, but one in particular stuck with me.
Make art that leaves a trail.
By art, I am thinking beyond the classics like painting, sketching, photography, singing or writing to everyday doings such as smiling, loving, mothering, fathering, cleaning, organizing, studying, teaching, nursing, serving, forgiving, running, cooking and driving. If we think about it with gratitude, we can create art even in common things.
The leaving-a-trail part is what I call Freckled Grace. Like a shooting star, it is left behind from where you’ve been, what you’ve touched, how you’ve loved and the struggle to freely forgive. For my part, I tend to just put my head down and get my stuff done. But when I slow down and give God room to work, I get glimpses of original art. It is flecked with my flaws and that is its heartbreaking beauty, shared from broken wings. Freckled grace only comes with living and hurting and making mistakes. It takes authenticity, vulnerability and courage.
The scripture about jars of clay comes to mind. Here it is from the Message.
If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at.
2 Corinthians 4:7
When Paul wrote this, pottery was for the common people, utilitarian and from the clay of the earth. Sturdy like plain and simple terra cotta pots, but also fragile to chip, crack or break. Even when broken, the pots were not discarded, but the fragments were used for writing. Shards.
This poem was written from my broken pieces. I was standing in our upstairs den when a red robin tried to come in off a branch through the closed window pane. I wanted to open the window and let him in.
Comes with the sun
Dappled light through the trees
Sunshine through the rain
I am humble in hallelujah eyes
Sprinkled stardust fine as sand
Leaves a trail
Asterisks in the dark
God’s fingerprints all over space
Like the freckles on my face
He kissed me there
And left a mark
Blue in the nest
The kind of love that leaves a trace
Bends the branch to reach the window
He wants to come on in
Through my mistakes
Flawless through flaws
Pure light through a broken place
In terra cotta jars
Made of dirt beneath his hand
A cup to hold his smile
And our laughter
Echoes around the rim
The sun's coming out. Fill up and pour out some freckled grace!
* Key2Free is the auction event for Door to Grace, a local Christian non-profit bringing safe and loving family to Portland’s sexually exploited children. To learn more visit www.doortograce.org