What I did this summer

Oct 2014 Lunar eclipse--photo by Julie McCarty

You have made the moon to mark the seasons; 
the sun knows its time for setting. . . .
O Lord, how manifold are your works!
(from Psalm 104: 19, 24)

When I was growing up, “What I did this summer” was the standard theme for writing assignments when we returned to school. Since this summer, I haven’t been blogging here, so I thought I’d fill you in on what I’ve been doing.

Minnesotans love to be outdoors in the summer (especially after this past winter!), and I am no exception. The summer here is filled with all the outdoor work on the home and garden that you can’t do the rest of the year. More importantly, we Minnesotans just like to enjoy being outside in the summer. So I spent lots of time nurturing my vegetable garden, taking long walks to practice nature photography, and enjoying time with summer visitors from out of state.

Veggies from garden--Julie McCarty

(click on photos to enlarge)

In September, my husband Terry and I spent two weeks exploring Manitoba, Canada and Thunder Bay, Ontario. We enjoyed hiking and practicing photography in the wheat fields, zoo, Riding Mountain National Park, and Whiteshell Provincial Park.  I hope to write more about that enjoyable and soul-nourishing trip sometime in the future.

Manitoba entrance

One of the highlights of this summer was digging deeper into my volunteer coordinator role of another blog called “Easter Prays / Easter Praise!” This reflection blog is a joint effort of many people from our church, Easter Lutheran.  I’m so blessed with what others are sharing: personal reflections, original prayers, tips on praying and spiritual practices, and stories of God’s work in our everyday lives.

This week, Terry brought in the last of our garden: carrots. (Carrots can survive longer into the fall, as they are protected deep in the ground.) With the turning over of the garden soil, my mind turns indoors and inwards, in anticipation of winter… to the writer side of me… and the newly developing artist studio in my basement…and all the potential those reflective, creative activities hold. My mind also returns to this blog and the plan to post reflections more frequently again

So, as the last few leaves scurry across our lawn, I wish you a happy November (the beginning of autumn, perhaps, for some of you), filled with every blessing from above.

Until next time, Amen!  

Creating things anew with God’s help–a look back, and forward

Some of you may remember that I selected the word “co-create” for my spiritual word for 2012. The spiritual word provides a theme or focus for one’s mind and heart over the course of time, an idea I learned from Christine Valters Paintner, the “online abbess” at the website Abbey of the Arts.

For me, “co-create” means to cooperate with God’s grace in making the world a better place. I found the word helped me to focus on trying new creative things, such as practicing nature photography and learning watercolor painting.

Downy Woodpecker underneath branch--photo by Julie McCarty, Eagan MN USA.
Downy Woodpecker underneath branch–photo by Julie McCarty, Eagan MN USA.

However, as so often happens when one takes up a spiritual practice, I was surprised at how many other, often deeper, meanings and ap-

Julie with her "Campfire" watercolor painting at Instructor-Student Art Exhibit --BTAC
 Julie with her “Campfire” watercolor painting (above) at the Instructor-Student Art Exhibit –BTAC
 

plications to “co-create” arose in my mind over time. These new understandings came to me through reading, talking with others, and thinking about my life experiences in journaling.

For example, when grieving the loss of my dad, the creative activities often consoled me as something new being “born” in my life. When waking up in the morning, I would find myself asking God, “What will we co-create together today?” As I did housework (something I dislike), I began seeing chores in a fresh light, as something that re-creates a beautiful, wholesome environment. While weeding the garden, it occurred to me that growing vegetables is also creating something good with God–good for me and good for others. 

From this year's garden
From this year’s garden

The year 2012 will be over soon. In fact, for Christians at least, the new liturgical year has already begun with Advent. I find myself wondering… hmm… what will be my “spiritual word” for 2013? What does God have in mind for me?

I invite you to ponder the same question with me. Is there one word or short phrase you would like to be your spiritual focus for 2013? Let us pray, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal a wise word to each of us for the good of our spiritual growth and service to others.

May the Good Lord bless you this holy season.

Until next time, Amen!

For more pictures from Julie’s watercolor class and other spiritual nuggets, visit Facebook’s  Spiritual Drawing Board by Julie McCarty.