Creating and Following
Love, Rest, Delight
My daughter’s school is one of many post-Katrina charters, and launched just down the Avenue from us in 2013. Borrowing a multi-dimensional word rooted in the French “bricoler” meaning “to tinker,” the innovation school, Bricolage, was formed with a creative intention to apply the name to everything that goes into making a school. Bricolage in art means to make something out of all different kinds of materials. They applied this concept to gathering all kinds of students together in one place to make a new whole who would then, in turn, be tinkers and creators, gathering materials and supplies in Innovation Workshop to make their own creations, and then innovating within the traditional subjects as well.
It’s a risky thing to believe in the idea of something before it’s fully formed, and the experiment of Bricolage is not just investing in another charter school but one that is tinkering as it goes. It’s a wild concept we’re applying in our working group for the St. Charles Center for Faith + Action. We have this concept, and we know we’re onto something. We have a handful of board members who have signed on and about as many founders who have committed over $50,000 so far. Articles of Incorporation have been filed, an EIN has been obtained to receive donations, and the Bylaws will be finished soon. But there are still parts that need tinkering, and some of it we won’t know how it’s going to work until we actually do the thing—gather the people, have the conversations, consider the outcomes—then we tinker again and make it stronger and better for next time. This can be a deeply uncomfortable way to work for some folks who want to hold and know a fully formed thing, and yet it seems very much to be the way that God works. And if that isn’t enough, it also seems to be the way God is inviting us to play and co-create and tinker in the world, too.
We have been in our new home long enough that it seems we’ve possibly, finally reached the end of cutting down dead things, throwing out overgrowth, fighting against invasive, junk plans, and actually allowing a garden to emerge. With some Netflix inspiration from Monty Don, Britain’s favorite gardener, Nathan and I have been focusing mostly on lush, tropical landscaping, while also working with areas of almost total shade and others of blistering sun. We are delighting in this work. We walk the rows at Harold’s in the Bywater, we pop by Lowe’s on the way home to spy more pots and containers on sale. We ooh and ahh over the display of greenery in places like Auction House Market. We study the names of plants and flowers and delight in the growth we see. We amend the soil and dead head the flowers. We cut off old growth to make way for new. We water. We wait. We move around. We transplant. We watch. We plan.
Aspidistra, liriope, Mexican heather, azaleas, foxtail and maidenhair ferns, hydrangea, and split-leaf philodendron in the front. Bird of paradise, bay magnolia, geraniums, morning glory, blooming sedum, erupting sago palm, papyrus, loquat, satsuma, agave, mint, rosemary, elephant ears, lemongrass, three types of hibiscus, desert rose, bromeliads, and a few varietals of ginger in the back. Not to mention the orchids and succulents rotating from indoors to out and back again.
I love a thousand things about some good vacation time. If we’re fortunate enough to travel, I love the illusion of minimalism—we are fully capable of living with only what we can pack in the back of a Subaru and do not need closets and boxes and a garage full of stored things! I love the freedom to explore or not explore, to sleep in or get up to see the sunrise. Mostly, I love living in other time—what day is it? what time is it? do we live here now?
I’m in the sweet spot after some really great time away. Even with school beginning last week and returning to all of the work awaiting me at my building manager gig and my nonprofit incubator and my pastoring, there was a bubble around me reminding me what matters most and what does not, what is mine to carry and what is not, what is important enough to take home with me and what is not.
It is good to be back here with you, beloved ones, in this sacred space after a couple of weeks away. Two weeks ago this morning, I gathered with a group of 15 from St. Charles at the beach for closing worship. With gritty sand beneath our feet and the slow bustle of beach life around us, we sang, we prayed, we named the ways we encounter God in creation, and we blessed each others with bubbles at benediction. Then I tucked in with my family for some good quiet, a lot of lazy, playing in our city, and soul rest. Nathan and I even managed to squeeze in a weekend alone! It is vital (albeit a luxury) to step away and rest like that. To be present to one’s life. To go from pajamas to a bathing suit and back to pajamas again. To reassess what matters most and what is piled around the periphery of our lives, merely taking up space like boxes and bags to be sent off for donation.
In the weeks I was away, we also watched more news headlines of great tragedies. Specifically, tremendous gun violence in Texas and Ohio and a shocking ICE raid in Mississippi. I know you prayed and brought the burden of those events here into worship last week. I was thinking of you and asking myself: What more can we do? What more can we say? How are we to respond? And how does our faith compel us to action when we see the broken shadows of our world?