Day 8: Being a Beginner (Part 1) / by Jeff Tacklind

Last fall I took a drawing class from my friend, Gil.  He’s a brilliant plein air painter…one of the very best.  Just so happens he attends my church.  Lucky us!

A handful of us signed up for the class, all different levels.  Some were dusting off their sketch books from years past.  Some were polishing their skills.  Others, like me, were still learning how to sharpen a pencil properly.  Needless to say, it was humbling.

I’m at that stage of life where I’ve figured out what I’m good at.  It would seem like wisdom to remain right there.  I've found my wheelhouse.  I should just keep perfecting my gifts.  That sounds nice and efficient and productive.

Except that part of me wilts.  I can get stuck in the familiar.  My mind gets locked into its rote responses.  The neurological grooves in my brain get deeper.  I get bored.

Being a beginner is so good for the mind!  In the awkward strokes, or the uneven lines, the lack of confidence in my shading, I find myself so immersed and engaged.  It takes everything I’ve got.

Others look over and glance at my paper.  I’m tempted to throw my arms over it.  To crumple it up and pretend I’m over it.  But I’m not.  Deep down, passions are stirring that I’ve always carried with me.  I've always wanted to do this.

There is a part of all of us that longs to create.  It’s in our very souls.  It is part of the image of God in our lives.  We are artists.  When we create, the deepest part of our spirit is engaged.  We are operating in the divine.  Even when we are scribbling with crayons. 

After my third lesson, I drew a shoe.  I looked at the smudged shading and imperfections and thought, today this is my best.  Gil looked at it and said, you’re done.  Sign it!  I beamed.  It won’t go on the wall at home. It could maybe go on the fridge.  But I signed my name with a feeling of joy.  What a wonderful experience to create! 

I’ve mentioned that sometimes during Lent we can add something to our life instead of removing or abstaining.  My encouragement:  Add something you’ve never tried or have only just begun.  There is such joy in being a beginner!