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.

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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.)

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.)

The Vision & a prayer

Several months ago I was asked to write a short article about my somewhat extraordinary experience with 24/7 Prayer. It was never published, so here you go…

Summer 2001. Youth With a Mission, Ensenada, Mexico: It was the first night of a youth group mission trip. A British guy came on stage and shared ‘The Vision’. He said it came out of London, but no one really knew much about it. The words on that crumpled up piece of paper with the MSN logo at the top seared my brain and my heart. They changed my life. They made my palms sweat and my eyes water. At that moment I wanted to leap from my chair and sing, and shout… and yell… and get a tattoo. From that moment on I was different.

Fast forward a twelve years and I’ve just moved to London from California. I don’t know very many people but I’m determined to build a life in the city I’ve been drawn to my whole life. Happenstance and a Google glitch brought me to the youth service at HTB my second week in London. I stood awkwardly on my own waiting for the service to start when Bill Cahusac spotted me and made me feel welcome. Later that week the Cahusac family invited me over for supper where I regaled them with my life story. When I got to the part about ‘The Vision’ Bill stopped me— “You know my boss, Pete Grieg, wrote that?”

And suddenly the last twelve years make sense. The twelve years of trials and disappointments. The twelve years it took me to achieve my dream of moving to London. God was there all along. God’s plan was in motion.

I did not choose 24-7 Prayer, God chose it for me. Spending an hour in a room praying sounds intimidating, but from the first time I walked into the prayer hut in July, I wanted to hunker down and stay forever. Though we can pray from anywhere, to walk into this space is to walk where fellow soldiers of the faith, fighters of the good fight, feeble criers of desperation and earnest seekers of Truth have walked. It is a safe place where walls come down and insecurities lose their sting; where inner monologue quiets enough to let the Lord speak clearly. Stepping into the Prayer Hut is like being enveloped in a warm soft blanket on the couch at God’s feet. Something I desperately need, and have long been searching for. 

I’ve been making my way towards this place for a dozen years and I am so thankful to have finally arrived. I’ve come home.

London

London, London. Where do I even begin? London is exactly where I belong. It’s a dream come true, a job well done. London is an exciting new place: new friends, new experiences, and old fires restored. London is my future. London is home.

GreenwichHonestly, it’s hard to even explain the wealth of experience and blessing happening in my life right now. It doesn’t seem fair. I live in a beautiful home with a wonderful housemate. I have several really wonderful friends- some old, some new. I found my church home and have already started connecting. And, most importantly, when I wander the streets of London I am falling irrevocably in love. The bustle, the busses, the quiet mews and the ancient trees, the bricks and the vines and the cobblestones… It’s all so rich and so right.

I am sure that eventually I will be homesick and will get sick of eating beans on toast (ok, probably not)… but for now, though I love my friends and family at home deeply, there is no where on God’s green earth I would rather be. I am quite literally living my dreams, and it is better than I could have imagined. 

Relocation: A celebration! Then the hard part.

Hooray! I had my grad check today with the head of my department… and good news! I only have one quarter left! It’s going to be a really heavy load, but I know I can do it. It is going to feel so good to finally be done!

Making my graduation date official was phase one of the big move. Phase two: figure out how to move to the UK legally- not an easy task. After a couple hours of research I’ve concluded that I either need £50,000 to be an entrepreneur, a job offer from a company willing to sponsor my visa, or to go to grad school over there (and prove I have the finances to pay for it without working). Daunting to say the least.

I know there are programs out there that will sponsor a visa for paid internships so I am looking into that… anyone have any other resources?

Relocation: It’s Going Down

(not me)(0.3 of you got the Plankeye reference. You’re welcome.)

I am moving to London. Finally.

I am not sure what exactly I will do there or how on earth I am going to sort out a visa, but I have a wish, a prayer and an ample helping of sheer determination to get me going.

Currently I am taking one million units at school so I can finish and move on with my life. I am hoping to graduate in March, but as of today it’s not looking likely. (Damn you CSU and your silly upper division general education requirements!) As soon as I have a graduation date I will start pounding pavement for a job, a visa, and/or an acceptance letter to graduate school.

Here goes nothing!

xx