Tag Archives: Morning Pages

Faith, Faery, and The Artist’s Way

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.
Matthew 11:25 (NIV)

Many years ago I picked up a book called The Artist’s Way and embarked on its path. The Artist’s Way is a course designed to help anyone tap into spiritual, creative flow. It was a life-changing journey for me, and God is still leading me back to its principles over and over again.

There are two foundational activities required of pilgrims on The Artist’s Way. The first is called morning pages, and it’s the simple act of waking each morning, immediately sitting down and writing three pages, long hand, stream-of-consciousness. Morning pages help empty the mind and spirit of all the crud that we didn’t even realize were gumming up the works. The second required activity is called the artist’s date. It is quite simply letting your adult self recapture the act of playing; Giving yourself permission to indulge, explore, imagine, touch, smell, taste, and see whatever it is your spirit finds fascinating. As the morning pages make way for fresh flow, the artist’s date begins to “fill the well.” It is a simple two-step process. And, it works.

This morning I was reminded of The Artist’s Way as I read the chapter. Jesus reminded His listeners that the things of God are hidden from the “wise and learned,” their minds gummed up with important things; Their spirits shriveled and sucked dry by the urgent cares and anxieties of the world. The things of God are revealed to children and to the child-like spirits whose minds are open and tapped into God’s flow, their willing hearts open to the wonders of faith.

I’m also reminded that the learned and wise C.S. Lewis first experienced what Jesus was talking about one day after a walk and conversation with his friend and colleague J.R.R. Tolkien. What was the subject of the conversation that led to Lewis’ conversion to Christianity? Tolkien’s belief that Faery stories are “real.”

The Benefits of Insomnia

source: stefanoricci via Flickr
source: stefanoricci via Flickr

In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his mind was troubled and he could not sleep.

During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision.
Daniel 2:1,19 (NIV)

I’ve never been a great sleeper. I’ve blogged about this in other posts over the years. I have an active brain that spins and mulls on all sorts of things in life at all times. So, after a couple of hours of REM sleep I will regularly wake and begin thinking about all sorts of things. At that point, getting back to sleep is out of the question. It is frustrating, and it has its ill-favored consequences.

I will admit, however, that along the journey I’ve come to recognize that my insomnia is not without it’s benefits. It will often happen in the nights before I’m scheduled to teach a class or give a Sunday morning message. In those watches of the night when every thing is quiet and my brain spins in the no man’s land between deep sleep and clear consciousness, I often find the words, themes and illustrations coming to me. Solutions to perplexing questions strike me. New creative ways of looking at things are revealed.

Throughout time great inventors, thinkers, and creatives have kept paper and pencil near their bed to capture thoughts, dreams, and revelations that come to them in the night. It is a fascinating and mysterious thing which I believe God can and does use if we learn to tap into it. In fact, my most fruitful period of spiritual growth came when I applied a disciplined approach to writing my early morning thoughts. My local gathering of Jesus followers is exploring the idea of hearing the voice of God, and this Sunday morning (1/25/2015) I’m going to be sharing the morning message about my lessons and experiences with early morning journaling.

Which likely means I’ll have a sleepless night or two later this week.

I need a nap.

Chapter-a-Day Matthew 11

sad boy
Image by woodleywonderworks via Flickr

“How can I account for this generation? The people have been like spoiled children whining to their parents….” Matthew 11:16 (MSG)

Before I read the chapter this morning, I was writing my “morning pages.” I was letting pen fly over the paper, jotting down what was on my mind. A lot of mornings, my stream of consciousness chronicle of inner monologue becomes a dialogue with God somewhere along the way and my morning pages become a letter to God. That happened this morning.

When I got to the verse above, and read Jesus’ description of His generation, I had a sudden pang of conscience. The words I’d just written in my morning pages were a whole lot of whining. I whined about this and I whined about that. “God, why don’t you…. God, why haven’t you…. God, I wanna….” Whine, whine, whine.

I think God is a loving Father and cares intimately about my feelings. He is not surprised, nor does He mind me pouring out my whining heart to Him. I am His child and He loves me. But, I also know that every parent hits a point where they get sick of the whining. It doesn’t get anyone anywhere when there’s plenty of things that need to be done.

Thanks for the reminder, God. Today, I’m choosing to stop whining and choosing to turn my focus to the things I know must be accomplished.

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Chapter-a-Day Jeremiah 41

Ishmael’s reason for dumping the bodies into a cistern was to cover up the earlier murder of Gedaliah. Jeremiah 41:9a (MSG)

In my study group, we’ve been utilizing an exercise called Morning Pages. It’s really simple. First thing, when you get up in the morning, write three pages long hand. Just write whatever comes to your mind. Keep the pen on the paper and keep writing. Don’t think. Don’t filter. Don’t stop. Just write.

One of the men in my group commented that the first time he’d done this study, when he first used this exercise, he was shocked at what came out in his Morning Pages. I understood. In my own experience of doing Morning Pages over the years, I’ve experienced the same thing. We are often unaware of what we have stuffed in the cracks and corners of our soul.

Our souls are deep cisterns. Over time, like Ishmael, we throw a lot of nasty stuff in. Then we pile stuff on top to hide the stench and cover it up. Eventually, it gets piled so deep that the flow of living water gets stopped up. Maybe there’s something seeping to the surface, but there’s definitely not a steady flow from the source. Sometimes our well clogs completely. It dries up. Morning Pages is an exercise that purges the soul and helps return the flow.

Jesus said “repent and be baptized.” What a great word picture. Purge yourself of the rotting, dead stuff in your soul, then plunge yourself into living water so that your well is filled. It’s not a momentary event, but a life long process.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and crazyfarmer