The traffic in the sunroom is bumper to bumper.
He lines up cars along the wall, across the carpet, weaving them under the chairs. A few years ago it was trains instead and I made him clean them up before bed.
But now it’s cars and I let him leave them there overnight because the days of heavy traffic in the sunroom are numbered, I know.
I take notes on the things that give them life, watch the way they play – how he loves to build and line cars up in traffic, the way one cradles her dolls, the way another reads until her eyes are too heavy to open.
I believe what is most true about the shape of our souls begins to show up on the floor of the sunroom, lining up cars bumper to bumper.
What is most true starts in the rooms of the dollhouse and the pages of the storybooks and the cold linoleum of Grandma’s kitchen.
What is most true began to grow underneath the tire swing in the backyard of that little white house with the gravel drive, when we played with kittens and dreamed of flying.
But growing up smoked the innocence out of us – a lot of pain, a little trouble, some heartbreak woven into our souls – and we have lived through burdens of our weary world, carry the scars of rejection and brokenness.
I think of my grandfather who finally stopped drinking, but his sobriety came too late for his kidneys. He was mostly a grump before he died, but he encouraged me in my writing as a young girl. I think he may have seen something in me he recognized in himself but couldn’t quite touch. There were shadows of his design, whispers of his giftedness that I’m sure spoke to him in some way, but his demons drowned them out.
His son, my dad, is an alcoholic too. When Mom would take me and my sister to church with her, Dad would stay home, drink a few beers, turn the music up loud, and stand in the living room of our little Indiana home.
And with the music drowning out his voice, he would talk in a loud whisper like a teacher, intellectualizing on things in the news, or politics or sports. He didn’t know why and he couldn’t explain it. But it was in him to speak out.
It didn’t make sense at the time.
But looking back from where he now stands as a twenty-five-year-sober believer in Jesus? With a long career announcing on the radio? With years of experience as a teacher and mentor and small group leader in churches?
Now the actions of that confused alcoholic seem a little less confused and a lot more ordained.
His art was not something he came up with later in life once he got his act together. Hints of his art were coming out of him before he even understood it.
Yours does that too.
It starts when we’re young and builds as we grow – and the it is the art, and the art is the reminder that we are made in the image of creator God. He bore his image into us and we bear his image into the world whether we mean to or not.
But what if we joined Him and did it on purpose?
What if, instead of seeing those childhood dreams and desires as meaningless, what if we began to uncover the ways we come alive and consider how these might be ways Jesus wants to come alive in us?
What if the art we make – whether the work of our hands, the words of our mouth, the simple movement towards others in our ordinary days – what if these are the ways Jesus wants to show Himself to a weary world?
What if the art you make and live is a daily grace God has in mind for someone else?
And your way of living art is one of the million little ways God wants to show himself in the world?
The person of Jesus lives in people like you. He has made his home within us. How might he want to come out?
Don’t despise the small way, the ordinary day, the little way of Jesus.
Dare to respect his work, his making of you, and consider how he might want to show himself through the unique filter of your personality.
I think of my son, playing cars on the sunroom floor.
What would happen if I began to pray for a vision for his future – for the courage to write his own stories, for the faith to survive his own shattered dreams, for the eyes to see Jesus no matter the cost or circumstance?
What if someone had done this for us?
May our loves never leave us, at least not for long.
May our passions not be buried so deep by our pain and brokenness that they become impossible to recover.
May we know God and in turn, know ourselves.