Adventures AWAKE!

A pithy little blog encouraging creative adventures of the Christian spirit

Blog address change April 27, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy Pierson @ 4:06 pm

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The Soloist: Seeing Reality, Serving Reality April 25, 2009



Steve and Nathaniel

Steve and Nathaniel

Uncomfortable topics of homelessness and what to do with the mentally ill are confronted by brilliant cinematography, a visionary director (Jeff Wright) and stellar cast. The acting was tremendous. Robert Downey, Jr. compellingly drew me into his character’s flaws and fortes. From the beginning, his character (Steve Lopez) is living solo. Divorced and alienated from his family, the LA Times journalist is looking for a story and a general life compass. Lucky for him, he happened upon the North star of a Julliard prodigy lost on the streets to mental illness.

Jamie Foxx (Nathaniel Ayers) delivers a convincing portrayal of paranoid schizophrenia – it’s manic, lonely and frighteningly unpredictable swings. He lives life as a soloist on the stage of LA’s rough skid row. In several scenes, true homeless people were cast as extras – and in many of those instances I found myself squirming with discomfort as I inserted myself in the picture. Simply put: It’s easier not to look in their faces. As of 2007, my city has roughly 10,000 homeless roaming its streets — though some think the number is higher. Currently, Los Angeles reports 60,000. Seems there’s a lot of head-turning going on.
That is the best part of this movie – in my view, the sign of an inspired film. Throughout the screening I found myself gazing inward. Forget agendas and fault-finding. Do I/Would I do what Steve Lopez did for one so hopelessly marginalized (invisible really) as Nathaniel Anthony Ayers? Do I/could I care to the point my God does? Because he did care in the end, the “real live” Steve Lopez has been quoted as saying his relationship with Mr. Ayers is “the most meaningful friendship I’ve had in my life…the one I’ve learned the most from.” Wow. 
There is an interesting undercurrent of a God theme in the film. Sometimes the filmmakers seem to embrace the idea that there are vacuous places in each of us that only the hope and grace of God can fill. Other times, they seemed to mock what people do in the name of God to extend love to those who need it most. And, who does need it most in our lives? I certainly need love. Though I may not be the most obvious or deserving candidate, I appreciate the benefit of compassion when it finds me. Jesus came to love the unlovely. Do I love them, too, or do I cross the street (literally or in my heart)? Do I readily dismiss their circumstance? – judge their rude behavior? In essence, am I afraid of their differentness?
I Timothy 1:14-16: 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners— of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on himand receive eternal life.
Adventure: See the movie. Then consider:
·         In this depiction, who exactly is the soloist? Steve or Nathaniel? – Why?
Ask yourself:
·         Who do I most identify with?
·         What am I doing to show mercy, demonstrate patience, and pour out God’s abundant love today on these characters in my life (self included)?
·         Do I have a friend who helps me see reality? – serve reality?
·         Can I admit my need for Jesus and ignore the needs of others?
·         If not the homeless, where is the “reality” I am moved to serve?
·         Now what?
Don’t blow by this. You can change the world…unless you’re a soloist.






The Adventurer Within April 22, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy Pierson @ 12:17 am

Two things I love: Adventure and creativity.


Adventure is exciting. It’s remarkable. Most of the time, it involves undertaking a new experience. I LOVE THAT! I love doing things I’ve never done before…going places I’ve never been before…tasting things I’ve never tasted before (most of the time). It’s an experience.


To me, creativity is an adventure — done well, the two go hand-in-hand. When I was a young mom, it took me a while but I figured out that doing something creative everyday energizes my spirit. What a relief it was to discover that doing something creative could mean anything from going to check out a new plaything at a nearby park, or endeavoring to learn oil-painting for the first time. Just as my child eagerly asks me, “What are we going to do today, Mama?,” I can enjoy the same privilege with my Heavenly Father. This is the basis of our intimate relationship.


In terms of spiritual growth, the creative adventure means asking the everyday question: “What do you want to do with me today, Lord?”  His answers encompass everything from housework to relationships; helping others to what to watch on TV; loving my neighbor to greening the planet. Without asking and then making space in my day to wait for the answer, the journey can’t even begin.


You can tell by now, I believe God answers the question. Not that it doesn’t take practice to learn how to recognize His voice, but all through the Bible He spoke: Moses, Aaron, Abraham, Gideon, David, Jesus, Paul, John and others all give eye-  (or should I say ear-)  witness accounts. His response might mean my time with Him is spent journaling, over coffee and heart-level conversation with a friend, tutoring an underprivileged kid, or an exposition of hermeneutics in my spare time (those of you who know me can laugh now at that last one). Whatever His answer, it is life. It is energizing. Matthew 11:30 says: “My yoke is easy, my burden is light.” That I can step into.


This is the stuff of those daily walks God took with Adam and Eve in the Garden. I find it hard to imagine they took the same path each day, had the same conversations over-and-over. No, I believe everyday was an adventurous, intimate bushwhacking of relationship and creation.


Doing something creative is empowering. Living in a creative place means taking on whatever is in front of me.  Anything…as long as it is a response to the Creative Impulse within. Again, on one level that impulse signals my bent for adventure. More than that, properly discerned this internal stirring signals the Holy Spirit wants to express himself through me uniquely each day. If you follow Christ, His Spirit leads and guides you(Isaiah 30:21). Nice to know someone’s got a map.


Aristotle described art as “our capacity to make.”  God calls each of us to use our capacity as His art. That is something in the heart of my being that cannot be imitated — the ultimate creative opportunity. Should I choose to listen each day, God is giving me opportunity for creative adventure. For the fulfillment that makes life worth living. The fulfillment that comes as a result of time with, and response to, the ultimate Creative Genius. Moment-by-moment choices lead to the masterpiece.


Another interesting thing about adventure and creativity: Both always involve 1) some aspect of the unknown, and 2) a response. We decide to enter in. And with that, there is some risk. But we are equipped for that to which we’re called — we each have a briefcase, a back pack, a paintbox, a diaper bag  — something full of gifts that He has given us for the marvelous quest. If we leave our gifts behind, instead tagging along on someone else’s venture, we miss the opportunity for the fantastic thrill that meets us when we ask for direction and set foot on the trail mapped out specifically for us.  But isn’t that the crux of faith?  Trusting the compass of the Adventurer Within. 


Want an adventure? Ask the question today. Create whatever space necessary to wait for the answer. Then, do it.