Now and Not Yet


I am learning to live in the present moment.

This does not come naturally to me – I tend to live more in the land of possibilities. I like to think of myself as a visionary, imagining all kinds of wonderful potential outcomes – not perfect, but truly excellent. I have visions for what could a church be, what my friendships or my body or my house could be like if dreams came true. Only they never do – not exactly like I hoped, not everything they could have been.

So, instead of being hopeful , what I usually felt was disappointed. What actually happened always paled in comparison to the potential of what I envisioned. I have been learning to accept what IS, to be grateful for how things really are – not how I think they should be. To love the reality of a person or thing or situation, to rejoice and be fully present in the now.

This piece is called “Now and Not Yet” . It was started as a potential commission. I needed it to be done by a deadline, so I could get it into a gallery in Scottsdale. I was also exploring the theme of an art quilt show for which I am the juror: Integrating a Paradox Art Quilts XVII

What I had in mind was an abstract representation of the Kingdom of God. Not to get too theological, but as I understand it, Jesus’ life, death and resurrection was the embodied presence of God’s perfect love and grace breaking in to our world. Heaven came to earth, and it will come again. But it isn’t completely here yet. There are still all sorts of things that aren’t how they should be– things that disappoint and hurt and even make us angry.
And yet, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the promise that the coming Kingdom of Heaven will be glorious, and everything will finally be completely how it should be. Justice, beauty, love, life. We get little glimpses and foretastes, and sometimes overwhelmingly beautiful experiences of that future here and now. Heaven is already here, now. But also not yet. We need to learn to notice and be grateful for what IS NOW, and with hope and faith, be moving towards what is NOT YET.

Now and Not Yet - as completed the first time

In my Art Quilt, the red and green fabrics represent the present and the future, earth and heaven, now and not yet. They overlap and intersect and there are open doorways between God’s kingdom and our world, between present and future, between gratitude and hope. There is some energy and tension, some order and some chaos. I even put little smidgens of yellow at the edge – thinking I will make a companion piece that is more yellows and greens and blues too!
Anyway, I finished this piece in March. And it was okay. Better than okay, but not everything I hoped for. Honestly, I was a little disappointed and not confident it would work for the client – and just not happy with the left side. . .too much red with not enough variety of size, value, color. I really loved parts of it, most of it really.

I decided to use images of my ArtQuilts on a set of affirmation cards – the one with “Now and Not Yet” said: I am fully alive in the present, and hopeful of goodness yet to come. Another affirmation card said: I am not afraid to make bold changes when things aren’t working.

After a week or two, I made a bold decision about “Now and Not Yet” – I needed to re-do the parts that I didn’t like. I have no problem ripping seams and changing things around while I am working – that’s a normal and fun part of my process. I like it! But I NEVER re-do something once it is completely finished.

But I did on this one, it was worth the extra effort. I removed staples, un-stuck fused backing, ripped out a section. What I actually changed was relatively minor, but it made a significant difference. (One side of the green doorway in the red section.) Also, I sliced off 4 inches of the boring left side!

I acted on my affirmations – fearlessly making a bold change. I liked it and it was worth it, and I could clearly envision a better way for this piece to be than it was. I moved from disappointment to confidently hopeful action. I am enacting in my art making what I am learning in my life, and vice versa. In the process of re-doing this piece, I became more bold, less fearful, more willing to act in the now and more confident about the not yet. This piece was destroyed and re-made, killed and resurrected. Now it is what it wasn’t in the past – and I have started working on the next piece, the Not Yet.

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