rolled down our street. From the passenger seat, I had my gaze fixed on something my neighbor, Lilyan, was doing on her front porch. “Jerry, I think Lilyan is making nativity figures out of sheets.”
“The Holy ghosts family,” he cried.
We laughed. No irreverence intended.
In other more eclectic areas in our town, the Holy ghosts family art installation would be heralded with enthusiasm. Here in our traditional hood, the neighbors have been strangely silent.
My friend didn’t care. She responded by putting up more lights and adding another angel.
degree in art from a large university. She was chosen for a prestigious residency program and studied in Cordona, Italy one summer. Her work is accepted at galleries and shows that I will probably never get into with my work. She recently illustrated a children’s book.
She is not an “outside the box” thinker. She is an “I didn’t know there was a box” thinker. Her brain is an idea factory. If I’ve needed a theme for a luncheon event, I can call her and she can spin off a hundred possibilities. Ninety-eight of them would require a cast of thousands to execute, but two are always humdingers.
She uses her God-given gifts and puts her work out there with little regard to raised eyebrows, whether it fits the status quo, or others' applause. She is an artist extraordinaire. My daughter says she is the kind of person that most don’t understand now, but one day, someone will name an art wing at a university after her.
I came across a quote from Madeleine L’engle this week, that reminds me of her. “If we turn away from the child, the poet, the artist in ourselves, we lose the ability to believe the glorious mysteries that lift us . . . to children of light, creatures called to create along with our Creator.” Lilyan creates along with the Creator.
I’ve taken every Christmas gathering at my house this year down to see the Holy ghosts family. Lilyan acts as docent and tells us how she made her figures of cast off mannequins, milk jugs, old draperies, sheets, and other found objects. The head of one angel is her front porch light. The manger is a wheelbarrow with glitter glued on it. You gotta give that woman credit.
She makes sure to draw attention to the scripture projected on her garage wall, the point of her whole presentation. “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given . . .” Isaiah 9:6. It’s her way of sharing the gospel―of reminding us of the reason for our celebration.
As we move toward Epiphany, let your light shine a little. In the New Year, let’s all be challenged to use our gifts for God’s glory. Whether, it’s art, or writing, or music, or something unexpected like leather tooling. Let’s put it out there. On the front porch or wherever God might lead you. Even if others are silent. Even if they don’t applaud.
Because you see, we do this seeking only One’s applause. As Max Lucado writes, do it with the hope that some day, “. . .the One who would rather die than live without you will remove his pierced hands from his heavenly robe and . . . applaud.”