The sign above my car that read, “This street monitored for drug activity” should have been a tip off.
When I decided to visit Randyland on our short trip to Pittsburgh, I didn’t completely realize that it was located in one of the most violent neighborhoods in the country. (According to news reporters who analyze his sort of thing.) I realized it pretty quickly when I was driving through the streets, following my gps to what seemed farther and farther away from Kansas, Dorothy.
But Randyland. Yes, that is its name. Named for the artist who created it, Randyland is a house and yard devoted entirely to art. In a neighborhood determined to be dark, Randy is determined to shine light. In a place where all your senses, including common, tell you joy should not exist and darkness will win, joy screams out of this home and yard. It defies darkness. It wins.
I didn’t leave Randyland thinking about the dark scary parts of the neighborhood. I left overwhelmed with one man who wanted to share art with his neighbors and bring light. That’s the power of joy.
On the Friday Five linkup at Mrs. Disciple, we’re talking about joy.
We blame circumstances for stealing our joy, but more often than not, I believe we do it ourselves. It’s a self-sabotage game. An inside job.
I think Randy, whether he knows it or not, discovered a source of joy Christians should know well but don’t. He has found joy in lavish creativity. And we know where lavish creativity comes from, right?
So, here’s at least one way I’ve found to recapture joy – and five exercises to practice.
Find joy in our lavish creator
Do you know why coloring books for adults are THE hot items this year? In a society where every move we make is supposed to be scripted for upward mobility, coloring books are pointless. And that’s the point.
We are a people so obsessed with “getting to the next level” (where even is that??), we have forgotten how to do anything for no reason at all. Achievement has become out means of joy. It never delivers. When we look to our achievements for our joy (or worse, those of our children), joy is always, ever just out of reach. It’s waiting for us at the next level.
Wherever that is.
God tells us in Scripture about trees that clap their hands and rocks that cry out. He created camels and porcupines and duck-billed platypuses. (Platypi??) He made lantern fish and puffer fish. Why? To have fun. To enjoy creativity. To make us smile. There is absolutely no practical purpose for a platypus.
If God puts that much effort into creating merely for the enjoyment of it, shouldn’t we take a second look at joy from his point of view? Maybe we need to take more time to do pointless, creative, crazy things. Things that add not one jot to our impressive resumes. Things that reconnect us to the Lavish Creator of all.
Ditch the achievements. Try some creative joy. Especially now, when stress and getting everything “just right” for Christmas threaten our joy.
Here are five ideas:
Make some play dough.
I’ve lost my recipe, but here is one like it. The baby oil – yes! – the best part. It makes it smell amazing. Play with it. Just do it. Trust me.
Go get one of those paint-by-number sets you did as a kid.
Do it again. Don’t care how neat it is or what you will do with it afterward. It’s the process, not the product. Or some other inexpensive kit from the hobby store. You know – the ones where you stick the sand on the picture, or – oh! – get a glitter one! You will thank me.
My husband bought me a pole and put six bird feeders on it for my birthday. It stands right outside the window where I work. I love birds. It does not help my productivity one bit to watch red-bellied woodpeckers and nuthatches. In fact, I imagine it affects it negatively. But it is joy-filled.
Revisit an old hobby or find a new one.
I used to love to cross stitch. But then three kids came along, and ain’t nobody got time for that. I want to revisit it. I’m also learning how to quill and felt. Just the feeling of creativity flowing through me relaxes everything. I have no idea what I’ll do with all the projects. I could be using the time for more important things. No wait – I could not.
Plan a flower garden.
Maybe you can’t actually plant one in December. Or maybe some of you lucky readers can. I don’t want to hear from you. But now is the time the garden catalogs are arriving in my mailbox, and I can dream. A flower garden. Not vegetables. Not anything practical. Flowers, to be completely un-useful. They are pure creative joy.
Oh — free sixth idea.
Make a gingerbread house.
Do not care if the candies are put on in neat rows or the icing drips just so. Do. Not. Care. Just create.
We seem to have a lot of dark places around us lately. I’d rather be a Randy than sit in the darkness. In dark places, joy wins. Always.
Please share your ideas for joy-filled creativity.
Th hear the whole sermon I did on this topic, go here.
To see my Pinterest boards full of ideas for making pointless things, go here. (There is a lot of art here. I am a 4H mom.)