Tight Bud Waiting to Unfold: Essay by Lynda McKinney Lambert


(butterfly, photo by Lynda McKinney Lambert)


“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than

the risk it took to blossom.” ~ Anaïs Nin


Eventually, it happens.

We begin to think about universal questions asked by every human being from

recorded history to the present moment.

Who am I?

Why am I here at this precise time?

What is my purpose?

Where am I going?

For a large part of my life, I accepted that my art and writing life were separate

from my spiritual journey. During years of rigorous academic studies, there never

was a dialogue that addressed fundamental questions concerning my creativity

being connected to my personal faith and theology. I never questioned or explored

my worldview. Well, in fact, I didn't know I even had a worldview. I was unaware

that everyone has a worldview and personal theology. This concept never came

up in any classroom discussions, so I kept my personal faith walk private.

I arrived at the Geneva College in Pennsylvania to begin my career as a tenured

professor. My title was "Professor of Fine Arts and Humanities." It was thrilling for

me to see my name and title inscribed on a golden plate on the door of my spacious

new office in an elegant, three-story Victorian mansion. My new life was everything

I could have envisioned during my years of preparations. I loved the professional experience I stepped into on a private, century-old campus. I had achieved the

desire of my heart. Dreams do come true.


My classroom duties began at the beginning of the fall semester. Initially, I faced

a challenge because this college's core philosophy is the integration of faith and

learning. That meant I was expected to teach every course in such a way that my

Judeo-Christian faith would be central to my teaching. How would I incorporate

my faith into my classroom courses? How could I find a synthesis between academic pursuits and the "integration of faith and learning?”

Previous training and research in higher education left me in a quandary about how

I would accomplish the college's mission, for the universities I attended are entirely

secular. Even though I thrived in my studies, there was a part of my human self that

formal education never addressed. Worse yet, I was unaware of the gap. Part of me

was missing, and I never realized it. Thus, my quest for discovering how to present

a personal Christian presence in my professional, academic, and creative life began.


Before starting my new job, I thought of my life as being divided into two boxes: sacred

and secular. I did not realize this is Dualism and is quite the opposite of God's historical Genesis account, he who created humanity as a reflection of the Divine. We were

created to be image-bearers of God.


With the dynamic new teaching adventure, my entire life was turned upside down. It seemed I was in a tailspin. I wanted to bring faith to my discipline. But years of training

and practice left me confused about the possibility of this.


One morning I made a request to God. "Would you please guide me? I am asking you

to be in my classrooms, to be with me as I deliver my lectures." I indeed had no idea

how this could possibly happen. As I tried to plan out my daily course activities for

each class, the integration of faith and learning was on my mind continuously. But I

had to figure this out even though it felt like the strangest request I ever made for

divine help. This concept was a crisis for me, and I sure needed help to partner with

my colleagues and students.


At first, I turned to the opening chapters of Genesis and saw them with a fresh understanding. As described by Genesis, the world has a logical created structure,

and it is filled with living forms. As I thought more about those forms made from the

earth, I envisioned God in a garden with his hands covered in clay and his clothing

soiled from gathering materials to begin the work. This scene reminded me of an

artist at work in the studio. I imagined God down on his knees in the fertile soil

creating the first human.

I developed projects based on information in Genesis. Students in the studio art

classroom began making art from the text, using ideas and questions while

considering the Biblical text. Students began to understand that all art and craft

began in that first garden with God.

An exciting aspect of the Creation story is that, after the things were made, they

were given to Adam to name. They were already real things before they were given

a name. We also saw how there is a God-given specific order. All items have meaning

in this structured order. This creation story became our road map for the courses.

I planned projects with different intended outcomes that required other processes

to achieve the end result. Each project grew out of a concept we discovered as we

read the Bible.

There are many references in the Bible to artistic and creative beauty in objects,

clothing, and buildings that are not utilitarian or realistic. We found extraordinary,

even vivid descriptions of clothing, buildings, interiors, fine crafts, and various

artworks, worship services, and sacred rituals. We discovered that beauty had a

primary position in the making of everything.


Gradually, I realized that various aspects of my life are not isolated. Each is part

of my own tree of life. With the discovery that my ancient Judeo-Christian roots

run deep and I am planted in good soil, the tree of my own life flourished. I was

a whole, complete person bringing the truth of the ages into my professional life

in my classrooms.

I always embraced the idea of being a lifelong learner. With my students, I conducted literary discussions that dug into our collective history as we listened to music and

looked at art from all periods. We surveyed the philosophy of inspired men and

women through the ages. Together, professor and students discovered layers of connections between our individual creative work, our academic aspirations, personal

and cultural history, and our Judeo-Christian faith. I learned there is no line separating

the secular from the sacred in this world. I learned to be a servant leader. And, I learned

to bloom!

With every passing year, I continue to see how big the world is and how it is ever-

expanding and changing. The entire universe stands as a witness to the creative

powers of an intelligent mind. We can find the presence of a Creator God in every

aspect of the creation.

Though I am now retired from my formal work in various classrooms and lecture halls,

I am still a lifelong learner. Presently, my passions of making art and writing are always

at the center of my days. My art exhibitions continue as I gather awards, and my

artworks still appear in galleries and museums across the U.S. Most days, I am either

in my fiber art studio working on a new piece or in my office writing about the

significance of our life journey. My art and my writing convey the timeless message

of who we are in Christ.


My studio and my office are light-filled rooms where I encounter glory. I walk into

those rooms and ask God, "What would you have me do today?" I never suffer from

lack of something because my thoughts contain a rich bounty of stories and poems,

more books, and new visions for my artwork. Our life is like a blossom that dances

at the moment as the Holy Spirit orchestrates the music. I am a tight bud waiting to

unfold every morning.


_______________________



Lynda McKinney Lambert is a retired professor

of fine arts and humanities, Geneva College,

Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. She retired in 2008

due to sight loss and, since that time, she spends

her time writing, making fiber art, and enjoying

her husband and their rescued dogs and cats.






(Lynda in her prayer garden)

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