twentybydesign

the life and times of a twenty year old designer

Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

walking in the rain

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As has become my custom this summer, I set out to walk the mile and a half to my afternoon coffee meeting rather than fire up my SUV for the journey. I love the walk, it winds through a beautiful part of my neighborhood, big old trees and creeks and streams, well kept-houses, my very favorite local church, and a stretch of busy road that makes me glad I’m experiencing the road at four miles an hour rather than forty. It only takes half an hour, and provides good time to think, pray, listen, and breathe some fresh air. I’ve fallen in love with my neighborhood in this way – in taking the time to see and smell and feel this particular patch of earth. Sometimes I take this walk on sunny days, and on those days it’s advantageous to know the oases along the way, shade trees for resting and streams for cooling down toasty toes.

 


 

Today, it is raining. Not violently or tempestuously, but steadily and often substantially. Rain makes me want to put on some Sigur Ros, drink tea and read something dense. It would be easy to simplify the journey, save some time and effort, and take the four mile drive. But I’m looking forward to this walk, and I know that in saving time, I’ll also lose an opportunity to see another side of the neighborhood. So I pull on a hooded sweatshirt, shake out my umbrella, strap on my Chacos, and set out on the journey.

Along the way my pace slows considerably. On hot summer days I take the walk pretty quickly, so as to avoid sunburns and reach the next bit of shade as soon as possible. I don’t like being very hot for very long. Today, the rain allows me the time to notice how, from the right angle, the old trees form an arch across the road that obscures the buildings and makes the neighborhood look like a forest. The rain challenges me to turn off my music and listen to its own particular rhythms. And my ritual stop at the stream to cool my feet becomes an opportunity to wash off all the debris my soggy sandals have collected. It is good to be in this place. As cars rush past, windows rolled up, climates controlled, pace ruled by the rhythm of traffic, I can’t help but wonder if they know how much they’re missing. 

 


 

It’s essential, somehow, to learn to love the road when it’s raining. Not to see the rain as an inhibition or inconvenience, something we have to protect ourselves from and rush through as quickly as possible, but to see the rain-soaked world as a space that is just as valid for an honest journey as the blue-skied paradise we Coloradans get to experience 300+ days a year. We’ve worked as hard as possible to control our environments, to make sure our experience of the world is exactly the same regardless of climate or temperature. But if we spend the rainy season wishing for the sunshine, we’ll miss an opportunity to move through this time at the pace of our own two feet, to see the depth and beauty and humble sadness of a world where the rain is still fresh. I loved the rain today, precisely because it was, without hope or agenda – immersive, arresting, and revealing another shade of glory on the trail I thought I knew so well.

I’m sad to be leaving this place, because I’ve seen so much sunshine here. Rays of light and goodness and glory, moments that bestow hope and purpose and joy. But I’ve also seen seasons of rain, and loved them in equal measure. Somehow they show the road with honesty, washing away the illusion of invincibility and omnipotence. And they is part of what I’ve loved about the last five years, and so I’m sad to be leaving that too. 

 


 

Often, learning to see Him in the rain is the only way to know He’s here. His love for us is not confined to the sunshine, to the clarity, to the easy paths and bright moments. He is equally present in the rain, the inconvenience, the confusion, the obscurity, the washing away and the vital refreshing. He dances in the fresh and bewildering downpour, even as He delights in the new shoots of life this deluge calls forth. This rain is not simply valuable for what it produces, but for the exact beauty of what it is. 

O my heart, learn to love this place, even if it feels like a season of interminable, bittersweet rain, because He is Here. And because, in the midst of all of it, He Is. 

 

 

Written by Taylor Webster

July 30, 2014 at 11:34 pm

Wedding Season, 2014 (a toast)

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As anyone in twenty-something stage of life knows, summer is Wedding Season. The sun in shining, the birds are singing, and happy couples across the country are tying the knot with vibrant, festive enthusiasm. And the friends and family of these couples are caught up in the tidal wave of bridal showers, engagement parties, bachelorette parties, ceremonies, and receptions. I’m a couple years removed from college, so my friends are really starting to kick things into gear. It’s been four for me this season, including a three-weddings-in-ten-day stretch that inaugurated and defined my July.

All of these festivities made me think of a post of mine from a couple years ago. You can read Wedding Season if you’d like – I still think there’s some wisdom there, even though it was written before I started going to 4+ weddings a summer. This time I’d like to reflect on what a rich experience this wedding season has been, and on the marathon of the last ten days in particular.

If you didn’t click through to the last post, I’ll give you a bit of a background. I’m 23 now, and I think I’ve been to about ten weddings since then, and there’s never been anything to interfere with my single-gal status at these shindigs. I’ve written a fair bit about singleness, some about the engagement bug, but very little about the weddings themselves.

If we’re talking liturgical philosophy, I’ll give you an earful about how the commercialization of weddings and the elevation of the romance narrative is part of a cultural downward spiral of dire significance. But I’d be remiss in ignoring the way in which weddings also play a vital role in combating the tide of cynicism in our world. I can’t pinpoint what it was about this stretch of weddings in particular that I enjoyed so much, so I’m going to try to give you a series of vignettes to capture the week, to share with you something of what it was:

 

It was being my mother’s date to the wedding of my oldest friend, sitting at the table with our first-grade teacher and sharing stories, dancing and laughing and catching up with a family I hadn’t seen all together in nearly ten years. 

It was the fusion of modern zest for life with reverence for tradition, as old hymns, familiar scriptures, and well-aged liturgies ushered in the beginning of decidedly new, twenty-first-century marriages.

 

It was the bachelorette party that was a celebration of friendship and sisterhood, a poignant good-bye to a way of life as we prepared to send the bride halfway across the country. 

It was reuniting a crew of crazies and blasting 95.7 The Party so that we could get our groove on because we knew that at the end of the two hour drive, this wedding wasn’t going to have dancing. 

It was the ceremony where I got to sit next to my best friend, the gal whose imagination during the ceremony turned towards “When you have your own church someday…” rather than “When we’re planning your wedding…” and feeling known, loved, and immensely grateful to be sharing life with someone so wonderful.

It was the way the bride and groom, finding themselves at the end of nine months of long-distance engagement, never let go of each other’s hands during the reception.

It was being seated with a table entirely composed of strangers, despite the fact that I knew a couple dozen people at the wedding, and being able to laugh and talk and enjoy the evening together as through we were old friends. 

 

It was rekindling a dormant friendship with a man who’s always been a big brother and mentor, picking up right where we left off, and discussing long-range life philosophies while slow-dancing to “Closing Time” at the end of the night.

It was the men – some friends, some strangers – who noticed me sitting alone and requested the honor of a dance, knowing that asking for a dance simply means you’d like someone to dance with, and that it’s perfectly acceptable behavior at a wedding.

It was playing Scattergories and Taboo with two of my favorite married couples in a mountain cabin after the wedding, falling asleep in a pile of blankets on their floor at 2 AM, and waking up for a leisurely breakfast in town at a table for five.

 

It was the realization of the beauty and bravery of these marriages, these decisions to say, at the age of twenty-three, “I’m done comparison shopping, you and I are going to do this together regardless of who else we meet, where our careers thrive or struggle, where we have to move, or where we have to stay.” It’s a brilliant, selfless antidote to the tonic of self-fulfillment, convenient, disposable relationships and pursuing one’s own dreams that has permeated the mind of your average twenty-three year old (myself included.)

Yes, it was about the eight folks that I witnessed knit their lives together. But it was also about the reunion of a wide web of friends and family at vibrant celebrations born out of long seasons of difficulty.

During the ceremony of this Tuesday’s wedding, the minister said something like “You two are embarking on life’s greatest adventure – marriage.” I couldn’t help but twitch a bit at that statement. Marriage is a grand adventure, make no mistake. I can’t wait to see all of the joy and glory that comes out of the depth and vulnerability of these marriages.

But what if life’s greatest adventure is just life itself? What if it doesn’t have to be hindered by a fear of odd numbers? What if it’s these crazy moments where single folks and married folks share stories and wedding parties become centers of hospitality and reunion? What if, even in our singleness, we allow our relationships to be vital and risky and intimate and hopeful?

And what if, as one of my newlywed friends reminded me, we allow this all to stand as a brilliant metaphor for the relationship between Christ and his Church – the passionate pursuit, the fastidious preparation, the joyous union and the celebration from which no one is turned away. Weddings are as crucial to understanding the present and future realities of the life of faith as they are to upholding traditional social structures.

 

There’s no better way to end than with a toast. So, here’s to wedding season. This crazy season that somehow reminds us to look outside of ourselves, to stop comparison shopping, to commit to the real, honest, hard, fulfilling work of building strong relationships with each other, to dance and laugh and eat cake, to invite folks from our pasts to celebrate with us the great joys of our present moments, and to keep throwing the kind of parties where everyone feels welcome. Here’s to the guests and wedding parties, spouses and singles, old and young, estranged and embraced. May you all live to see a thousand reasons to rejoice. 

Written by Taylor Webster

July 17, 2014 at 4:31 pm

(seven weeks) a lenten journal

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(one)
monday.

all of the Things had been done

and instead of finding peace my heart exploded in a stream of physical fear late night phone calls and in the midst of phrases unuttered and hearts drawn into compassion and great aching voids of understanding unwilling to admit that the wrenching came from anything at all being wrong

everything weight, heavy, heavy, heavy

 

another way presented itself
it was treadwatertreadwatertread.
or accept the hand pulling me into the boat

and the thought that perhaps the best way to handle
drowning
wasn’t to keep treading to become a stronger swimmer to fight for every gulp of oxygen
but to realize that maybe
the drowning could be ascribed
to the size of the ocean
and indicated no fault in the strength of the swimmer

 

on wednesday we all returned to dust
each and every and all

in my weakness, imbalance, humanity

i accepted the invitation into the boat
a clean break
clear start
opening, honesty, redemptive connection

 

it’s impossible to stop drowning if you insist on staying in the water
you’re only delaying the inevitable

a floodgate, an outpouring, made space for grace i couldn’t understand
when the man who knows and keeps the law is wracked with internal shame and guilt and the prostitute shatters her life savings at the feet of an itinerant rabbi
who has found the heart of the matter?

 

sometimes, when you get the queen of hearts, you’ll still have a chance to shoot the moon

 

“i have seen the burden God has laid in men
he has set eternity in the hearts of men
he has made everything beautiful in its time
yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
-ecclesiastes

 

(two)

a gracious, still space.

a room marked “peace”
a back porch and a basement and a bookshelf
generous company, great faithfulness, rescue and shelter
hope unspoken vows and freedom to move freely
binding beginnings and endings into covenant purposes of friendship

 

space to pause, freedom to live the questions as we are brought through

and yet the snare tugs and much is unprocessed and grace is grating and the space is aching

“i remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall
i well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. 

yet this i call to mind and therefore i have hope:

because  of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail. they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
i say to myself “the Lord is my portion, therefore i will wait for Him”
-jeremiah’s lamentations

 

(three)

honesty long overdue patches cracks in aging friendships

but stories also confirm
the ship is still sinking

perfect hands dig through the mud
uncovering the precise clay needed
the pot is made to be filled, to be emptied, to be filled again
to be rich with purpose
and always rich with hope

 

boundaries become opportunities
which stop patterns from becoming identities

 

ten days is the longest time, and i am a fraudulent mess

refuge in the smallest cabin on the humblest lake
and it is snowing
and i find it easier to wrestle with You than with myself
as i seek to catch an echo

 

none of us can claim full representation
we are tiles in your mosaic
who need each other as others
 blessed, sacred, rooted in holy solitude

my wandering heart is bound in this goodness and grace
caught up in swirling sacred, i call attention to the mystery and find a tangible freedom

 

“God talks quite audibly before one is created,
then walks in silence beside you into the night.
but the words, before one is given one’s start,
these cloudy words are:
guided by your senses you are sent;
walk to the rim of your desire;
be my attire.

 grow like fire behind the scenes
so your shadows stretch and hover,
becoming my cover.

allow it all to happen:beauty and terror.
just press on! no feeling is an error. but don’t get severed from me.

close is this land,
which one calls life.

you will recognize it by its strife.

take my hand”
– r.m. rilke, the book of the monkish life

 

(four)

we are a covenant people

and as i stand before you this is less about me
and more about us

the pulpit was a life raft
a holy and broken hallelujah
a gift that never had to become an identity

a simple, homemade dinner and a pull out couch
extensions of grace
invitations into a family

 

the war is great
but the field is leveled and the ground is solid
we are not given weapons to show our own finesse
instead it is armor

and we trust the strength of the maker who is present with us
and knows where we will go from here

louisville slugger vision retrospective
return to banjosity
interwoven threads of grace
honest feedback
a scrappy band that refuses to give up
mustard seeds cracking pavement

 

as the tender places heal on this scarred back
even the blanket of grace cuts like burlap

i see it as abrasive, ill-fitting-undeserved
and want to prove i’ll never be able to wear it

the healing is slow, almost imperceptible
nowhere near fast enough for what i need
i feel the old coat will never be shed

faith grows from knowing exactly how much i can’t handle
and trusting that there is one who can

against all hope, abram, in hope, believed”
– the apostle paul, to the romans

 

(five)

to go out in joy

to be sent so full and so assured
to build well and laugh together
to see grace, peace and space

ice cream on the kitchen floor

 

all is quieter, less dramatic than what I’d expect
it is also deeper, truer, and far more beautiful
a sweet and subtle work that tints every moment

in the work of months and years and half a decade
this heart is still being redeemed

 

we test our limits, argue for out limitations
and find grace is the essential fabric of the coat we’re seeking to jettison

suddenly there are stories to tell and the opportunity to stand firm
to fight it by name
to pray out loud
in quivering moments of boldness

 

aching for rest and permanence, transcendence and glory

 

someday every point of rest won’t feel like a waystation
for the time will come to settle and breathe
the dwellings will no longer be temporary

the goal will no longer be onward and upward, but downward and deeper

sacredness is not found on top of a mountain
but in the sweat on our backs and the dirt under our fingernails
we will see glory in the ash from which we are emerging

it will be a good and gentle place to begin a garden together
beauty and nourishment rise form the compost heap

 

as far as the trains could have taken us
we will never see anything more wonderfully bathed in grace and in glory  

 

for i can not be defined by what i will never be

for the foolishness of god is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of god is stronger than man’s strength”
– the apostle paul, to the corinthians

 

(six)

a return to a home all but forgotten

rivers and roads, hills and hollers
mountain air on the front porch
notebooks and guitars and typewriters

 

and it smells like it’s supposed to

 

the bittersweet tears trapped behind the eyes of monday are impossible to find on tuesday

 

from a great height, the clouds look so very substantial
from the ground they block the sun and act outside of our control

but they’ll never be solid
for the sun persists on shining
the world never remains bathed in darkness
the clouds never hold together

it’s fruitless to focus on the strength of the cloud
what it hides from us, or what it’s essential shape and substance is

because when they dissipate, we’ll realize
our lives have been marked as children of light all along
so we study the strength and substance and character of the sun

 

after three years my heart still knows how to breathe here

you are contrast and consolation
beauty and rage and strength
depth and truth and steadfastness

 

it’s a particular grace, to be remembered
amongst a group of people who make a living out of tossing starfish back in the ocean, one at a time

what would seem a daunting choice  has been taken out of my hands

humbled
called to abandon illusory successes
remove the chip form my shoulder
lay down the mantle
stop defending myself
and come and die

 

here at the last i find boasting only in impeccable and present grace
joining in a family for which faith is a lifeline, not a hobby

the miracle in others helps me find it in myself
in my pride, fear, insecurity, mess and humanity
the invitation stands to be exactly myself

to live the story that is being granted to me
to be surprised by parallels, and delight in intersections

vibrant stories
creativity in simplicity

perhaps i wont always have to do the hardest thing i can think of
you are preparing the place for me, and me for the place
it is a beautiful symmetry of liturgy and history
hope and healing and old-time-religion

 

somehow there is still a burr in my heart
a dominant and particular proclivity threatening to jam up
the process of knowing others and becoming known

 

and yet i recall that a month ago i was basking in provision faster and wider and deeper than i could ask or imagine

 

he has walled up my way so that i cannot pass, and he has set darkness upon my paths.
he has stripped from me my glory, and taken the crown from my head.
he breaks me down on every side and i am gone, and my hope he has pulled up like a tree.

i know that my redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
and after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh i shall see god,
i myself will see him with my own eyes – i, and not another.
how my heart yearns within me!
– job

 

(seven)

this week begs for silence.
space.
reverence.

a renewed awareness that nothing in myself will ever quite
fulfill the need for something in which to believe

a twisted ankle humbles
good conversation exalts
in equal and opposite measure

the inclination is to rebuild walls
to withhold to protect
to root out toxicity
to see passion as a fool’s errand

because i cannot keep working so very hard
to not be who i am

i cannot stand as judge and jury and prosecution and accused

and the necessity for a living sacrifice becomes painfully clear

“thistled ground, tomb of my love, heart torn apart  coming God, soften the soil tend now the scars
‘love’, you said, poured out like wine, broken like bread waken us, enliven our minds, unearth the dead

rend this heart of stone and mend it into flesh and let your love bring me to life 
yield this hardened earth until a garden spills the ground and brings us back to life 

open, your love breaks us open  resurrects a garden, a garden “
the liturgists, garden

 

(day one)

 

 

everything. is. new.

emerging from an evening of doubt and fear and uncertainty
radiant, sure, strong hope

the tension of a heart that longs to go without having to leave
but is inclined to leave before it is time to go

placed beautifully in context

which reminds me of the following:
seriousness is  not a fruit of the spirit –  but joy is
the world will never again be flooded with a deluge, an extinction – but with overwhelming light and grace
that partnership and purpose and pure personal happiness are gifts –  not essential rights
that heart and family and community and hope will always carry human tension – but can also be the seat of remarkable peace
that our struggle is not against the overwhelming circumstance –  but against the lies the accuser brings into the circumstance
and that even as our hearts are bent against god –  death has been defeated and the lies no longer define us

 

like the resurrection day coming so close after good friday
the grace of this season was all precisely unexpected

though it met exact needs perfectly
though i had been promised it was coming
could not see these graces on the horizon until they were within tangible reach

how much more do we miss because our expectations are limited
to what we can see and feel and touch and understand
unable to see that in two days time our greatest joy will be born out of our greatest sorrow

 

the personal identifiers, the sources of strength
carpentry. liturgy. banjosity.
are being haltingly submitted to hopes of
community. spirituality. service.

this is bittersweet victory
which stems from a strength not my own
and stands to calm the waters such that
the stormy point of ending yields
to a graceful beginning

where less is resolved
less is defined
and more and more is held in hope
and shaped by grace

 

“my eyes have seen the glory of the coming Lord
i
t looks like streets restored after the vicious war
my eyes have seen the glory of the coming Lord
i
t looks like God’s own feet walking along these floors.

my God, you move, and everything is new
the world is changed, never the same
the light has come bearing your name
the dawn that’s breaking in the East shines upon the least of these
and soon, everything is new

 

glory, glory, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah”
-tim coons, everything is new/battle hymn

Written by Taylor Webster

April 21, 2014 at 9:02 pm

Full Circle: A Tale of Two Conferences

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God’s timing is unpredictable, inconvenient, and absolutely impeccable.

A week ago I was off the grid almost entirely. Our theatre department was selected to host the regional conference of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. What this meant for us was that we were working the festival, attending workshops, and presenting our entries in the competition for an average of sixteen hours a day. It was a heady experience indeed, spending a full week sharing ideas, seeing work from visiting schools, and saturating ourselves in a full spectrum of theatrical offerings. It was inspirational and challenging to see so many different perspectives on our art form and to hear stories from professionals all over the field. I’ve been dreaming of attending such a conference for two years, and I went in with high hopes.

This whirlwind of duties and activities didn’t leave much time for maintaining anything resembling a healthy rhythm of life. In removing me from the life to which I had become accustomed, the festival also brought me to a personal breaking point that had been a long time coming. In spending so much time in the theatre culture where I had once found the seat of my identity, I felt strangely out of place. In an environment that prides itself on being open and accepting, I had a hard time meeting other folks who were like me in much of any way at all. I didn’t find the sense of connection and community I’d been hoping to find with the other scenic design students. I watched a series of plays in which faith was always in the wrong in theaters where the audiences were palpably rooting against religious characters. And maybe most challenging of all, I was not accepted back into a certain community within our department in which had held the seat of my heart and my identity for so long.

And so, my starved-for-validation self melted down entirely at the end of what felt like a fruitless week. Clinging to the remnants of misplaced hopes and burdened by an overworked heart, I felt utterly alone and steeped in failure. Which was a complete pack of lies. I made some remarkable unexpected connections during the week, and am thankful to have been supported by some wonderfully encouraging individuals. But my selfish heart still wanted to come out on top and be just like the cool kids. So I allowed self-pity to take over and descended into my own weakness. It was a terrible way to end what should have been one of the most exciting weeks of my life.

Here’s where I went wrong. In any community I’m in, I seek out peers and role models and folks from whom I can take behavioral cues. I figure if I can do what they do and be who they are, I’ll be accepted. I spend a great deal of time and energy trying to be like these people, and when I find I’m not, I feel I’ve fallen short. But the problem is not that I’m not enough Alice or Erin or Charlie. The problem is that I’m not willing to just be Taylor. I can’t accept who I am when I’m all alone, even less accept that who I am may be exactly who my community needs at the moment.

And who is Taylor? Where does my identity lie? I am a scenic designer and a theatre artisan. But I am not just a theatre person. I am a person who is educated and capable in theatrical crafts, but that is only a part of this radically transformed heart. A full sense of my identity is something I can’t quite express in writing or out loud yet, but I can tell you that when I am spoken of, “scenic designer” is only in the comfortable middle of how I’d like to be described.

The festival sparked a lot of ideas of future in my head. Aspirations and fears collided into a general sense that I’m simply not strong or well qualified enough to handle my future. But I’ll tell you a secret. Today, I didn’t have to deal with my future. I had to deal with today. I was given today in all of its glory, and today was a gift I could choose to accept with open hands and experience fully, or cautiously mull over  and return unopened. God knows where I’ll be six months from now. But if He told me I would probably run screaming in the other direction, trying to reason my way out of his will. And since He knows that about me. He gave me an entire weekend of beautifully wrapped individual days.

This weekend was like festival week turned upside down. If last week my overconfident expectations were disappointed, this weekend my humble expectations were overwhelmingly exceeded. Two years ago I attended winter retreat with InterVarsity. I was alright with God at the time, as long as I could follow him by myself, and our relationship could form entirely through books, and I didn’t have to deal with people at all. That retreat was a dive into the deep end of Christian culture, and at the time I had no idea how to swim. I didn’t understand the love behind the conversations and actions, so to me it all felt empty. I had no idea why people would raise their hands while singing songs, why they would share their deepest hearts and hug and cry all over each other, why it was acceptable to follow an intense session of teaching and worship with a tubing run and a broomball tournament, and most of all why they felt any compulsion to do this with people who weren’t their best friends or in their major or like them in the slightest. In short, I didn’t understand the kingdom.

Needless to say, that was before I had accepted the grace and dignity that God brought into my life through other people, people who accepted me exactly as I was in that shell-shocked moment, but who also spoke redemption and hope into my broken heart, and invited me to walk with them in following God together. God works through us. Those people answered his call to bless my life, and they will never know this side of heaven what an impact they made simply by committing to walk through hard times with a broken person.

Two years later, I no longer see God’s love in my life as running upstream. I’m not trying to stand as close to the source as possible and catch as much as I can for myself before it gets to anyone else. I realize that I’m just one of many pebbles in the stream, being washed and smoothed at a rate that its unique from any other pebble. I’m content to be downstream with everyone else, and rejoice in the fact that all of the pebbles are receiving the same gentle but firm, refining and merciful flood.

I shouldn’t have enjoyed this weekend. From a sarcastic, pseudo-intellectual, well-read teenager standpoint, it was pretty lame. The broken parts in myself have always wanted to run from groups of people for fear of being hurt or let down. But this is no longer just a group of people I know and see a couple times a week. This is for real. This is my family. This was our time together. A time to unite under a sense of shared vision, take stock of where we have been, where we are now, and where God wants us to go. A time to rest in God’s presence, delight in the glories of his creation, and be at ease with old friends. A time to accept the challenges, embrace the changes, and celebrate the victories. And by grace far exceeding my will or inclination, I felt at home and loved, accepted and challenged, and free to live into an identity that no one can take from me.

So, how did this weekend speak into the identity that had felt so broken after the festival? This weekend I met someone almost exactly like me. (That hasn’t happened in a long time. It was delightful.) And I met several more people who could not appear to be more different from myself.  I was surprised to find that I took as much joy in celebrating the differences and disagreements and diverse perspectives as I did in finding someone with a similar affinity for sarcasm and singleness. Instead of being validated because at least one other person out there thinks like I do, I was validated by seeing that perspectives we bring to the table have to be different to mean much of anything at all.

I was validated by seeing that there is work that has been done through me in the last two years that no one else could have done, and that others have done work I could never have dreamed of stepping into. It had to be me. It had to be them. And it had to be us. All together, as individuals united under a common sense of purpose. In the body, we may not all be hands. But it sure is nice to have a spleen and a nervous system and some lungs every once in a while. And in order to keep this body alive, it’s going to take a willingness on each of our parts to embrace our gifts and submit them to the common good. That’s who I am. I may not be a designer in the very center of my being, but the center of my being is part of something greater. The light is overwhelming the darkness. And when I close my eyes and look to myself, that’s all that I see. Mercy raining like a flood. Love that is unending. And grace that is absolutely, completely amazing.

Don’t let the conversation end here. Even in all of my verbosity, this story would take at least a conversational hour to tell properly. I will buy coffee for anyone who allows me to share my story and shares a personal or spiritual story of their own in turn. We’re all in this together, and the only way we’ll ever get anywhere is by sharing our stories, lives, and experiences. Together. 

Written by Taylor Webster

February 26, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Synthesis

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I like taking stories seriously, often spending hours on careful, deliberate analysis to glean the fullest sense of meaning from a text. I like sharing these stories with the people I care about, but I like sharing them with strangers even more. I like that the most rewarding part of working so hard to understand and share these stories is hearing how they’ve deeply affected the lives of friends and strangers.

I believe that collaboration is essential to life, and that what is most wonderful is that which is created as part of a communal undertaking. I believe that life was not meant to be lived in solitude, and that the modern inclination to look out for yourself over your community at all costs has driven painful fractures into our society.

I like spending time with groups of people who are working together for a goal bigger than themselves. I like that these people often consider themselves part of a family, and will lay aside everything else in their lives to make sure that the grander vision is accomplished to its fullest extent.

I believe that those who have are taking the best approach to life are those who are able to see light in the midst of darkness, and foster a perpetual hope for the coming season.

I like making beautiful things out of light and dust, colored dirt and animal hair, right angles and swaths of color.

I believe that life is not a quest for efficiency and accumulation, but a re-ordering of the world to create new perspectives of the ultimate beauty. I believe that we were born into a garden of abundant life, and we are moving towards a city where that life will never end.

I like investing in people, taking time to get to know them, and being inspired by their stories. Everyone deserves to have someone care about them enough to listen for an hour or two and learn to see the world through their eyes.

I believe that stories can often teach us more about the world than a litany of memorized facts. Novels, short stories, poems, lyrics, plays, liturgy, and holy writ all cause us to pause, step out of ourselves, and accept perspectives we have never considered. At their best, they comfort and encourage us, provoke and challenge us, and never allow us to walk away unchanged.

I like engaging with the surprising and letting my life be driven by the unexpected. The plans I would have made for the past four years of my life are nowhere near as fulfilling as the unexpected events and changes that have transpired.

I believe that the desires of a heart greater than mine to see life and beauty reinforced in this world and my vocational connection to the performing arts are not as disparate as I once believed them to be, and that whatever the future holds, my hope lies in the synthesis of these strongest parts of my heart.

Written by Taylor Webster

November 17, 2011 at 10:16 pm

Swings and Sunsets

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It’s absolutely beautiful here today. I went out in a t-shirt and jeans and didn’t feel the slightest need for a jacket. The late afternoon sun was low in the sky when I decided I had had enough of spending the weekend indoors glued to a screen or hunched over a drawing. I simply intended to go for a walk, when I passed a playground a few blocks from my house.

I stopped in for a visit. And, let me tell you, nothing beats the swingset. Nothing.

Sure, it had been a while. But the swings, my favorite playground friend in childhood, welcomed me back with open arms.  The way the metal instantly dried out my hands, the whoosh of wind through my hair, the moment where the world dropped out from under me only to come rushing back at a breakneck pace, the instant, mood lifting, perspective-altering rush of simple joy. No one can be too old for that.

I was so taken by the swings that I spent the next twenty minutes cavorting and dancing around the playground, free of worry and inhibition, simply moving where the music and the sunlight took me. It was beautiful. Moments of freedom and joy like that always remind me of Jesus’ promise to his disciples:

“I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy” John 16:22

I believe that’s the greatest, most succinct promise of hope we’ve ever been given. Think for a second about what it really means, to see Him again, to fully rejoice, and to know that that joy can never be taken away.

In the rush to grow up, I hope we don’t forget the swingset. I hope I’m never too old to play. It’s just too much fun.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/brandoncwarren/4036587818/

Written by Taylor Webster

February 13, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Posted in Life

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