The past two weeks have featured all that one would expect from New York City: good & bad smells, 3 million Puerto Ricans lining the streets for a parade, and seeing the Easter Bunny on the subway. After arriving, I immediately felt that this year's Summer Project would be much different from the last one. For starters, the Project directors have spent a lot of time working out the kinks from the previous Art Projects. We have an incredibly talented group of student artists here (including 3 others from Winthrop), with a broad spectrum of artistic gifting. In addition to visual artists, we have performing artists and writers as well.
Yep, that's the Easter Bunny on the Subway...
For myself, the pressure I felt last year is gone. My first summer here was like taking huge gulp after huge gulp of a big drink, and trying to take deep breaths in between sips. There was just so much to take in - and I wanted to take it ALL in. While just getting to know your way around can be a daunting task, I wanted to see everything too. In the midst of trying to live like a New Yorker, I was also faced with new ideas about theology and art, and I had to figure out how to fit that into my personal walk. Oh yes, and then there was the whole point of the trip - sharing the Gospel. All of those tasks can be incredibly heavy, and sometimes it can be hard to remember that we were not meant to carry them alone. This year, my perspective is much different. Along with Laurens and Winthrop University, I feel comfortable listing Manhattan as somewhere I feel very at home (don't hear me wrong, Carolina is captial "H" Home until death do us part...) What I mean is I can see that this is where the Lord wants me in this season, and I love being here. As far as learning about theology, art, and sharing my faith, I don't feel like I have to figure it all out immediately. In her book "Plan B," Anne Lamott says "This is how we make important changes - barely, poorly, slowly. Still Jesus raises his fist in triumph." One difference from last year is that I beginning to see my lack and my limitations lost in the limitlessness of the Creator. Here's the deal: We're never going to figure it all out, and He loves us already anyway. The sooner all of us begin to deal with those two facts, the sooner "on Earth as it is in Heaven" happens.
3 other Winthrop Art students came with me this year for the Project! (Cameron, Courtney, & Courtney)
Courtney B and me viewing Central Park from atop Rockefeller Center
My roomies, Kevin and Mark
This week, we have been spending time on college campuses engaging students in conversation about their hopes in life and ideas about God by using pictures and questions. In some cases, we've already had the chance to explain what Scripture says about human desires and how God intends to meet them. When not on campus, we've spent time together discussing and sketching ideas about our exhibition. This year's show will have a strong focus on collaboration, which to me beautifully captures the essence of the New Testament. Also, this year part of my responsibility is to lead a discipleship group of guys on the project. I have been looking forward to meeting them, and it has been encouraging to hear how God brought them here this summer. We're looking forward to helping each other meet personal goals in our individual walks during our time here.
Didn't our mothers tell us not to draw at the dinner table? Nope!
Despite a stronger reliance on the Almighty and a decent memorization of the Subway map, the City can still be overwhelming if time is not intentionally taken to meditate, process, and pray. I haven't felt taken over by stress or anything, but my head has been kind of full the past few days. While processing my time here so far, I came to a somewhat unsuspected conclusion this afternoon. Basically, I realized that my bewilderment is rooted in the fact that my fantasy world and my reality are beginning to look oddly similar. There's not much I'd rather be doing than this, and not really a setting I'd rather be doing it in (not on this side of the New Jerusalem). This is one of those rare moments where the story I might write for myself reads much like the one that the Author has written for me.