Focus

“Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on.” Mark 2:3-4

I thought I knew a lot about community.

This year at Focus I learned about real, radical, loving community.

I arrived in England last week feeling hopeless, dead, empty. I could only see the life I no longer had but desperately wanted.

I arrived back in London after HTB Focus (basically an all church summer camp/festival) refreshed and energised in spirit, exhausted in body, hopeful, and excited for the future for the first time in months. I’m so deeply thankful for community who holds me up in love and prayer when I can no longer do so for myself.

I’m a woman with two hearts, two cities, two communities, two families, two homes… Now begins the journey to reconcile this to my one life and one soul. To learn to embrace the incredible joy and blessing to have so much love across the globe… And to start racking up some serious air miles.

Banished from Britain

How can I describe the last week?

I had a plan, and it didn’t work. I was kicked out of the land I love, the land I’ve always dreamed of, the land where I feel the most myself, a land full of people I love, the land I have chosen to call home.

The Brits whom I love, who I’ve not yet known even two years, kicked into action. They helped me move, they cooked for me, cleaned for me, held me when I cried. I’ve rarely felt so loved.

Do I feel like a failure? A reject? A victim of cosmic chance? I want to say yes, but that would be a lie. Down in the deepest depths I know there is a Plan. I know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be for this (hopefully very short) season. I have no doubt that I will return to London, I will work and love and laugh and drink and live and then retire to my little cottage (lighthouse) on the sea.

Landing in California is like crawling in bed after drinking 3 Red Bulls. Yeah, I love my bed- it’s  warm and cozy and comfortable and I usually hate leaving it… but i have so much to do- so much energy, so many plans, a life to live! I am being forced to rest, to think, to sleep. I should be thankful for this time. I am working really hard (counter productive maybe) to be thankful for this time out with the people I’ve been missing.

I’m laying low for now. I don’t want to answer questions, my heart is broken and I ache for London… but this season will be good. I will look back on it the way I look back on my Great American Road Trip- I was so deeply hurt & shattered, but God met me. I grew, I rested, and I found peace & adventure.

The Old Man and the Sea

I read my first Hemingway novel at the recommendation of a friend. I didn’t expect to know him. The old man, I mean. But I do. I grew up with him.

The old man sat repairing his nets and watching me grow up. He saw the devastatingly bored child lying on the floor, he watched while I took apart things I could never repair. He listened while Granddaddy read me Bible stories, and later he watched as I plowed through dozens of books in a summer. He watched me watch my grandfather fall asleep in his chair every afternoon surrounded by his books.

10911331_10155046462875634_6360293463715648372_oAll my life the old man and his nets sat on a low table in my grandparents sitting room watching- a single string looped over his toe.

I never returned to my grandparents house after their death, so as far as I am concerned, there he will sit repairing his net, thinking of his great fish and me, for the rest of time.

On Baptised by Blood (Part 1)

I did what I set out to do, and I did it really well. So why do I feel so lost?

Finishing a project of this magnitude feels like a break up. It’s exciting and consuming, and then all of a sudden it’s over. All of a sudden there is nothing. There is nothing left to occupy my thoughts and my heart. After a breakup, one is left piecing a broken heart back together, rubbing fingers along the sharp edges to feel the intensity of the pain which seems to lend value of the now broken relationship.

With art the pain is similar, but there is completion. Something whole and real has been extracted from my soul for all to see. In my minds eye it looks like a giant, sharp piece of obsidian that’s been painfully pulled from my center leaving me empty and breathless. I look at the photos and reread my thesis in the same way one traces the raw edges of a broken heart. I want to feel the weight of it in my chest again, the emptiness hasn’t brought the relief I expected.

I was asked to write a reflection on Baptised by Blood, but I just can’t do it. Not yet. It’s too close. I am still too stunned.

What I can say is that I set out on an academic pursuit to find a space between art and religious practice. I think I found it. I set out to make work that is intelligent but accessible. I did that. I set out to raise the money to make a huge installation happen. We did that. I set out to make work that is personal and honest and painful and sacrificial. I gave it everything.

My hope now is that it was worth it. That it brought joy and honor to the Father. That it started conversation and interest and thought. And that somehow, someway that project will pave the way for future projects.

(Photos from the installation will be live on CaseyMacKenzie.co.uk this week.)

Thoughts

Laying on the floor at St Sepulchre’s while I was setting up my show, Baptised by Blood, I had a thought…

I want to live in a church
Churches that aren’t churches anymore are sad
I want to live at a church
I should live in a vicarage
I need to marry a vicar
Is a vicar the same as a pastor?
I want to live in a church

Rublev by Rowan Williams

One day, God walked in, pale from the grey steppe,

slit-eyed against the wind, and stopped,

said, Colour me, breathe your blood into my mouth.

 

I said, Here is the blood of all our people,

these are their bruises, blue and purple,

gold, brown, and pale green wash of death.

 

These (god) are the chromatic pains of flesh,

I said, I trust I shall make you blush,

O I shall stain you with the scars of birth

 

For ever, I shall root you in the wood,

under the sun shall bake you bread

of beechmast, never let you forth

 

To the white desert, to the starving sand.

But we shall sit and speak around

one table, share one food, one earth.


Yes, yes, yes. My heart and my blood and my tears cry yes.

The Vision 2.0

Back in March while I was in the 24-7 Prayer room I wrote my own version of The Vision.

Today I am feeling exceptionally low. I am tired and I have nothing left to give- and a lot left to do. I’m in a place where I’m not convinced dream chasing is all it’s cracked up to be. Swan diving into the unknown is easy (for me). Landing and climbing the next mountain is so hard. And it’s even harder when you live 5000 miles from your mom.

Anyway, I reread my vision tonight. I suppose I still stand by it, but I am becoming seriously concerned about the cost. Can’t I be both extraordinary and ordinary? Can I be an expert and an innovator in my field, can I have a big airy studio in a cottage with a mortgage and a partner and a family? If I can’t have it all I’m not convinced I want any of it.

I understand now why not so many people chase their dreams. Dream chasing is really freaking hard. It’s exhausting and it’s lonely, and it’s scary.


What is the Vision?

The Vision is Spirit. It’s art.

The Vision is art that moves. Art that brings glory to His name. Art that breaks down barriers. Breaks down the walls between art & God & fashion & culture. Art that inspires and defines. Art that is intelligent.

(The spirit in me. Moving me. Making me. Driving my ideas.)

The vision is a spacious white studio with lots of windows & a big table & large format Epson printer. The Vision is not held back by earthly things. By bureaucracy or by lack of funding & resources.

The Vision is multimedia art installations driven by photography & washed in the Spirit. The Vision is exhibitions that give life & change life.

The Vision does not follow the rules. It is loved & reviled across media & spheres of culture. Hated by churches, loved by critics. Loved by Christians, hated by bloggers. Moving between spheres of influence as easily & seamlessly as changing clothes.

The Vision is success & visibility but in love & humility. The Vision can handle attention & bad press. The Vision gives all the work & the glory & the pain to God.

The Vision works hard. Loves hard. Gives everything.

The Vision is fulfilling.

The Vision is not alone.

(The Vision is probably really messy.)