Guest Post: Erika Morrison {the Life Artist}

by Laura on July 6, 2011

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There are a few voices in the blog world that truly cause me to pause.  And soak in beauty, appreciate art a little more, and feel hurried and alone a little less.  Erika Morrison is one of those voices.  She has a beautiful blog, The Life Artist, where she writes honestly of life and the richness of living it.  She is currently homeschooling her three boys as they begin the path of adopting a fourth child.

I have no doubt your soul will feel what mine did when I read these words . . .

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Something: Nothing Paradox

Hunched over my kitchen sink and drawing deeps breaths, lips whisper so my young lads school-working at the beat-up old farm table can’t hear, “This homeschooling business is some kind of my-selfish-back, breaking. God.” It’s a feeble cry, I know, but just saying one of His names lifts me up a bit.

I turn away from my dishwashing station, walk my weary body up the stairs and into the bathroom – an unlikely respite, but the boys don’t usually follow me there. Again, some words just need to be freed into the air, where I don’t carry them anymore, “My God, there’s three of them and only one of me . . . I done give till I’m all gone.” The tune to an old U2 song enters the airwaves around my head and I sing quiet from a closed-lid toilet . . .

“And you give yourself away.

And you give yourself away.

And you give.

And you give.

And you give yourself away.”

Until you are nothing, if not a sacrifice. Living.

It puts me in mind of Someone I know, Someone the chorus could have been written for.

There are certain scriptures my mom inspired me to write on the tablet of my heart as a young teen. Philippians 2.7 is one I am most grateful for because my self-focused-self needs a holy mantra.

” . . . but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant.” Phil 2.7

On days like today and during the season of Lent, the first four words roll strong and pull deep: ” . . . but made Himself nothing . . .”

Nothing.

Zero.

Zip.

Zilch.

Nada.

This is a Sacrifice that I can barely touch the tail end of. I frequently imagine my God of cosmic proportions liquefying Himself and pouring all His molecules into a baby boy body. The Infinite became Infant. The Largest became Smallest. The Greatest became Least.

He made Himself Nothing. And we all know where He was born. We know where He walked and whose feet He washed and how He came to serve and not be served.

Something into Nothing. This Something/Nothing God is one wildly-audacious Paradox, but that thought is for another hundred posts.

As I long-breathed through most of the light-time, teaching hours, it seemed fortuitous and affirming that I would pick up The Prayers of Soren Kierkegaard and read these words: “And you celestial Powers, you who undergird the good, you heavenly host, help me raise my voice so that if possible it may be heard throughout the whole world – I have only one word to say, but if the power were given to me to say that single word, that single phrase in such a fashion that it would remain fixed and unforgettable – my choice is made; I know what I would say: “Our Lord Jesus Christ was nothing, oh, remember this Christendom.”

I can’t tell you what this did to me. Good God. Sometimes the way another person flicks their phrases, forces the wind right out of me. I couldn’t breathe properly for a minute as I mentally followed the red thread back and forth to this small space in time and I knew where it was taking me – down the road to nothing.

How often is the forefront of my objective to make a name for myself, seek recognition, be seen? And right when I thought I was getting “somewhere”, a desire is born in my belly to do one of the seemingly “smallest” things I can think of – stay home and home-school.

I joyously, intentionally, devoted ten years to learning the details of my “something-ness” because Jesus knew who He was and made all kinds of “I Am” statements. Mine are loud and clear in the “Me” division of my blog, but now that my grip is firm and my voice is strong with my own “I am” declarations, I must learn what it means to follow Nothing, be nothing, in the same way I followed Something to learn my own something.

During these specific day-musings I could almost hear this gentle-Father refrain playing by my ears, filling my head with the path to follow, “You are something, if there ever was something. You are my daughter. I’m the One Who made you that, told you that. Now, follow Me and make yourself nothing.”

This season, and for as long as it takes, I am learning how to make nothing out of my something. It was all the rage, with this one Man, like 2000 years ago. It was back-breaking then and it’s back-breaking now.

This occasion makes it all worth it: We were all settled around the table, when my littlest one, 6 year old Jude Isaac, settles his eyes and his smiling dimples on me and says, “Mama, I decided what I want to do for Lent. You don’t get to do ANY more dishes. I’m going to do them all for you until Easter.”

Ahh, Jude, I’d become “nothing” for you ANY day. And I know how the Nothing/Something feels . . .

Erika Morrison, The Life Artist

{And you can click here to see the cutest picture EVER of her family of five dressed in full-on pirate garb.}

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Favorite line or idea from the above?

  • Heather K

    “How often is the forefront of my objective to make a name for myself, seek recognition, be seen?”

    I do this a lot with my husband. I get snippy-passive-aggressive-woe-is-me with all of the things I DO and HAVE TO DO and how IT NEVER ENDS. And then when he asks me, “what do you need?” my response is almost always—“to be recognized, acknowledged…”

    Yuck.

    I love this idea of following the “Nothingness.” The humilty and gratitude of simply being alive, ready to serve, right here, right now. A breaking back isn’t really important to Nothing.

    Such a peaceful picture of complete selflessness. Really beautiful and inspiring, Erika.

    And missin’ you, dear Laura. Hope you are recovering from your LONG flight :)

    • http://www.the-lifeartist.com Erika Morrison

      Thank-you, Heather, for sharing your thoughts. I can certainly relate to the struggle not to seek recognition and praise from the husband. I’m pretty sure I did exactly that . . . just yesterday. Dang-it!

      😉

      Love,
      Erika

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Heather, I loved that you wrote this,
      “A breaking back isn’t really important to Nothing.”

      And I loved your honesty about seeking recognition and value. I totally get that and feel like that motivates me much more than I would like to admit. I think maybe that is one of the reasons that being a stay at home mom is hard for me sometimes– it feels very unseen and un recognized and not valued to the outside world.

      Miss you already, too, friend. . .

  • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

    I loved this post of Erika’s. I loved the real humility, the authentic-ness of it. And I think my favorite line/section was:

    “This season, and for as long as it takes, I am learning how to make nothing out of my something. It was all the rage, with this one Man, like 2000 years ago. It was back-breaking then and it’s back-breaking now.”

    I just love the beauty of how she wrote that, how she turned that phrase about Jesus and what Him being the broken bread and poured-out wine.

    Such the example to follow for the rest of us. Still, Today– backbreaking or no.

    And, of course, I always love me some U2.

    Thanks, Erika!

    (Sorry for my lack of quick commenting . . . just settling into Thailand and don’t have internet right now! Right now the kids are watching a movie on the dvd player at a coffee shop and we are borrowing their wifi! I’m usually better at responding, promo-ing guest posts . . . argh.)

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