I am a Tight Bud Waiting to Unfold
And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud
was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. ~ Anais Nin
Eventually it happens. We begin to think about universal questions asked by every human being from the beginning of recorded history to the present moment.
Who am I?
Why am I here at this precise time?
What is my purpose?
Where am I going?
For a large part of my life, I accepted the idea that my art and writing life is separate from my spiritual journey. During years of rigorous academic studies there never was a dialogue that addressed fundamental questions about my creativity in connection to my personal faith and theology. I never questioned or explored my worldview. Well, in fact I didn’t know I even had a worldview. I was unaware that everyone has a world view, and a personal theology. This concept never came up in any classroom discussions so I kept my personal faith walk private.
As a new professor, I arrived at the college where I would begin my career as a tenured professor.
My title was “professor of fine arts and humanities.” It was thrilling for me to see my name and title on a golden plate on the door of my spacious new office in an elegant 3-story Victorian mansion. My new life was everything I could have envisioned during my years of preparations. I loved the professional life I stepped into on a private, century-old campus. I had achieved the desire of my heart. Dreams do come true.
My classroom duties began at the beginning of the fall semester. This time period is the beginning of the academic year. Initially, I faced a challenge because the core philosophy of this college is the integration of faith and learning. That meant, I am expected to teach every course in such a way that my Judeo-Christian faith would be central to my teaching.
How would I integrate my faith into my classroom courses?
How could I find synthesis between academic pursuits and “integration of faith and learning?”
Previous academic training and research in higher education left me in a quandary about how I would accomplish the mission of the college for the universities I attended are completely secular. Even though, I thrived in my studies there was a part of my human self that formal education never addressed. Worse yet, I was unaware of the gap. Part of me was missing, and I never realized it.
Thus, my quest for discovering how to present a personal Christian presence in my professional, academic and creative life began. Prior to beginning my new job, I thought of my life as being divided into 2 boxes, sacred and secular. I did not realize this is Dualism and is the opposite of the historical Genesis account of God who created humanity, a reflection of the Divine. We are created as image bearers of God. Our purpose is to reflect his glory.
With the dynamic new teaching adventure, my entire life turned upside down, it seemed I was in a tailspin! I had to find the way to bring faith into my discipline but my years of training and practice left me confused about the idea of this marriage.
When I began this exciting new place, I accepted the idea that my art was separate from my personal life story and my spiritual journey. Rigorous academic pursuits had never led to a dialogue that addressed fundamental questions about my disciplines in connection to my personal faith and theology. Religious convictions were kept private, quiet, never to be uttered in
Academic discussions. Dozens of courses are listed on my transcripts, yet not one addressed the notion that I had a purpose in life or a calling from God.
My timid prayer one morning was a request that God would guide me in this new pursuit to allow him into my classrooms and with me in my lectures.
I surely had no idea how this could happen. This new concept haunted me as I tried to plan out my daily course activities for each class. Integration of faith and learning was on my mind continuously. But, I had to figure this out even though it felt like the strangest request I ever made for divine help. This was a crisis for me and I sure needed help so I could be in partnership with my colleagues and students. Gradually, I came to realize that my personal life, my history and creative activities are not at all separate. Each is part of my tree of life. With the discovery that my ancient Judeo-Christian roots run deep and I am planted in good soil, the tree of my life flourished. I was a whole, complete person bringing the truth of the ages into my professional life in my classrooms.
I always embraced the idea of being a lifelong learner and that propelled me to develop my distinct teaching style. Along with my students, we began to piece together the human puzzle. I asked the World View Questions in my studio art classes; researched them in our humanities courses; read deep into them through literary discussions; dug into our collective history; listened to the music from all time periods; read the philosophy of inspired men and women through the ages. Together, Professor and students discovered layers of connections between our personal creative work, our academic aspirations, personal and cultural history and our Judeo-Christian faith. The most remarkable discovery I made is that there is no line that separates teacher from students. And, beyond that discovery, I learned there is no line separating the secular from the sacred in this world. I learned to be a servant leader. And, I learned to bloom!
With every passing year, I continue to see how large the world is and how it is ever expanding and changing. The entire universe stands as a witness to the creative powers of an intelligent mind. We can find the presence of a Creator God in every aspect of the creation.
Though I retired from my formal work in a variety of classrooms and lecture halls, I am still a life-long learner. Presently, my life-long passions of making art and writing are still at the center of my days. My exhibitions of art continue as I garner awards and my artworks still appear in exhibitions across the US.
Most days, I am either in my fiber art studio working on a new piece, or in my office writing about the significance of our life journey. My art and my writing convey the timeless message of who we are in Christ. My studio and my office are light filled rooms where I meet Glory.
I walk into that room and ask God, “What would you have me do today?”
As each new project is completed and others started, I never suffer for lack of something to do because my thoughts contain a rich bounty of stories and poems, more books, and new visions for my art work. I am a tight bud waiting to unfold every morning.
As with most transitions in life, inspiration begins as a tiny seed planted deep in the mind. I envision life-changes as a colorful fluttering butterfly swooping across a flower garden, gliding on the breeze on a warm summer day. Our life is a blossom dancing in the moment as the Holy Spirit orchestrates the music.
We dance together in Divine harmony.
Photos and Essay by Lynda McKinney Lambert
Copyright 2016. Revised August 13, 2018.
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Our truest life is when we are in our dreams – awake. Henry David Thoreau
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