I got ready for the night with silent anticipation. The first of many monthly outreaches centered on creative living, meeting in Artist Village downtown? Count me in. As I approached, friends waved me over and welcomed me with warmth.
We talked about how it’s finally fall and dark outside and I can wear all black, boots and a leather jacket without…”looking Goth?” My friend Sam finished the sentence for me. Yes, these are my people.
We ordered water and wine and hot drinks. Chai soy latte for me, thanks. One by one creative individuals joined our table. We laughed and joked, sometimes we couldn’t hear each other from opposite ends of the long table. But we were together, and learning about each other, and learning new definitions of what it means to be creative. The colored market lights turned on above us and gradually we left our seats to get more water, to take some pictures, but also to rotate around the table and talk with someone new.
It was beautiful. And best of all, it was life-giving.
There is so much I can do with my time, there is so much I should do. Ugh – I literally shudder at that word – should. Only six letters but wrapped up in so much pressure, internal expectations, and even shame about how we think we should behave. Of course not every activity will be full of rainbows and butterflies – some things in life require sacrifice and discipline. But I’m learning that other times it’s okay to just receive. Just be.
I found the art of being, in this place surrounded by unique individuals. God calls us to create inclusive, welcoming community but He also intends for us to receive the invitation and soul-warming love from our brothers and sisters.
At one point we went round table and answered individually: How are you creative? What are some of your favored creative outlets?
Minutes before I had mentioned something about literature. A friend to my left said, “Oh, you’re a writer?” To me it had always been I love to write, or writing’s a hobby. But yes, I smiled and said, “I guess I would say I’m a writer.” And it felt right in my bones.
It’s not that I hadn’t felt that way before – I always wrote in my childhood and teen years, even dreamed of becoming a journalist before I met my calling in nursing. But something about proclaiming the title of Writer or Artist or Creative felt unobtainable. Like claiming to be Wonder Woman, it felt outside the realm of reality.
But something about this community helped me to shrug off the cloak of embarrassment and uncertainty, and helped me to reclaim what my heart already knew to be true. That is what family does. Family reminds you of the parts of you that have always been there, and the parts of you that deserve a little TLC.
So in this moment I am tired, but I am full. I feel drained but not empty. This is a season of joy and new beginnings, of harvest and fullness. The excitement of our growing community helps to keep the momentum strong with each passing week.
But the real sweetness comes not with the busy nights and constantly moving pieces. The sweetness comes with the still moments spent together as family. Spent around the table eating. Spent voicing our creative fears. Spent setting up the sanctuary on Sundays, making jokes to pass the time. Spent circled around a cafe table, hot drink in hand, laughter spilling out of the patio onto our city streets.