As I stated in my last post, my own original stories have taken a backseat as inspiration for those stories has drained away for the time being. Until I can once again envelop myself in my own characters and their worlds and stories, I have dedicated all my energy to the creation of “fanart”, which is not a new concept, but it gives me the incentive to write and draw to my heart’s content whilst exploring my favorite characters from fiction. Right now, I’ve transformed into a freakish Star Wars fan, namely because of the new Star Wars movies coming out recently. So, please sit back and take a look at some of the stuff I’ve drawn lately that is all about Star Wars 😉 :
Sometimes I ask myself, “How on earth did I go from dreaming about attending Patrick Henry College to this? University of Dallas, the Catholic School for Independent Thinkers??”
This thought initially unsettles me. I find myself asking God, “Why here, Lord? What is your plan? Where are you leading me?”
I mean, Patrick Henry College contrasts quite a bit with University of Dallas. As does Baylor, with the George W. Truett theological Baptist seminary integrated into the campus. I visited both, actually. And neither felt right. When I visited UD for the first time, it felt like coming home. Like it fit me right. Why, though?
I’m not Catholic, and sometimes I wonder if those of my friends raised strictly Catholic view me as one of those disturbingly enthusiastic Evangelicals. The kinds of people who jump up and down during praise and worship, the kind of people who speaking tongues and “twitch”. I wonder if they wonder if my pastor gives sermons with Calvinist abrasion and fury. I never thought of it before–I never questioned my chosen church/denomination. I grew up at the church I attend. It is more or less Evangelical, with Baptist roots since the founding pastor was Baptist. But now that I’ve begun to explore the rich Roman Catholic culture at UD, attended mass at the Cistercian Abbey, Dominican Priory, and Church of the Incarnation, all easy to reach around campus, I find myself thinking more and more about my own chosen denomination. The Roman Catholic church is the oldest church in history. It was the original church that began with the Apostles. The more I learn about it, the more I see how rich and rooted it is in traditions that are thousands of years old. My church was just founded back in the late 90’s. It has been growing fast since then, and it is rooted in the Baptist denomination, but at the same time I feel like I’m floating. Is the theology grounded in Bible stories introduced way back in my kindergarten Sunday School class enough? Is it substantial enough?
I was pretty overwhelmed by the rituals and liturgy performed during the mass. Each time it hits me harder than before. Is a session of praise and worship and a forty minute sermon afterwards enough? It seems so bare compared to the solemn liturgy and prayers chanted and repeated throughout the mass. The Eucharist is also a new concept. The wafers and wine taken during communion is seen as a crucial moment to receive the sacraments of Christ. Whereas, I’ve been raised to see this as a mere symbolic ritual. Far more emphasis is placed on communion in the Catholic Church than in my Evangelical church.
We bow our heads and listen as our pastor explains the reason for taking Communion, explaining that the bread represents Christ’s body, the “wine” (grape juice at our church???) is His blood. And then we take it. We stay in our seats. I am reminded to appreciate the Lord’s sacrifice on the Cross, but in my memory, it seems almost downplayed.
At Mass here at UD I find myself walking up the aisle to the priest, and wait with nervousness heating my face up. What if I trip? Should I bow, like my friends are doing before they receive Communion from the priest? Or is that just for the Catholic? Is it disrespectful if I don’t? Oh, and I can’t take the Communion…I need to cross my arms now, so they’ll know I’m an outsider… Am I imagining that the priest regards me with distrust? He blesses me, and I slowly walk back to my seat, my heart pounding. Each time these thoughts run through my head. Each time, a flush burns in my cheeks. I can barely take everything in that’s going on in the room. The incense, the holy water, the rising and the kneeling. And yet, through it all, it is beautiful. The words that they chant in honor of Jesus, I stand in awe as I listen. Never before have I seen this much reverence, this solemn, august reverence paid to my savior. It is so different, yet so awe-inspiring.
Before class begins, some of my professors pray, and lead the class in doing the sign of the cross and saying the Lord’s prayer. At times I feel self-conscious, though I know the Lord’s Prayer by heart. Am I missing something when I don’t do the sign of the cross? Exactly how much importance is placed on doing it?
And so, I ask again, Why? Why UD?
What if the picture is bigger than you see?
And God has you right where he wants you to be
Just listen to your heart
He’s telling you with every beat
“Still That Girl” by Britt Nicole
I sincerely believe that God does “have me right where He wants me to be”
He has drawn me closer in the past weeks, and I find myself turning to Him more and more in my quiet moments, when I am out running or walking to each class. He reminds me to trust in Him. The other day I opened His Word and read this verse:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight
For so long this verse has brought comfort to me when I am unsure, confused, anxious or filled with doubts. God chooses the best moments to reach out and touch my heart, whispering that He does have a plan, He does know what is best for me, He does have it all in His control. I need not fear anything. Thank God that He is the author of our lives.
Ironically, my Grandfather, Russell J. Young, a devout Catholic, discovered the church my family has attended since 2000. Way back then he met our founding pastor at the local mall, and my Grandfather, who loved to meet new people whenever possible, anywhere possible, struck up a conversation with two young men (my pastor and his deacon) as they discussed the church they had just begun. Grandpa learned about it, and I’m sure their discussion was lively as he engaged with them, as they told him about their vision, to begin a family-oriented church, with a mission for spreading the Lord’s Word in the DFW metroplex. My Grandpa went to my parents and told them about his new friends, who would be our pastor/deacon. “So, is there any chance that you and Danny [my Dad] will come back to the Catholic Church?”
My Mom replied, “Well, I don’t think so…” Since my Dad is Baptist, and my Mom joined his church, our family has been raised in the Protestant church.
“Well, then, this church I’m going to tell you about is the next best thing to being Catholic,” my Grandpa said, probably with the twinkle in his eye that I remember so well. 🙂
And truly, Valley Creek Church has been wonderful. I’ve grown up there. I’ve grown up with so many people there who are now off attending college just as I am. My parents have been in small groups with other couples and have formed a strong fellowship with other families, many of them homeschooling families like ours. In fact, a lot of the seniors in my [homeschooled] graduating class attend Valley Creek as well. It is a wonderful place where I’ve made many lifelong friends and learned so much about the nature of the Lord. I’m so thankful for having this church in my life. I have seen other kinds of Protestant churches, attending those with friends or family. But Valley Creek is my home base, and our current pastor speaks such relevant truth into my life that it is sometimes chilling, how strongly the Holy Spirit works through our pastor to reach my heart. I know that the Holy Spirit speaks in different ways through our pastor’s sermons to each and every person sitting in the room. And knowing that is breathtaking.
But I feel as though I’ve entered a whole new world each time I sit through a Roman Catholic mass and see a different side of Christianity that I’ve never known. A wonderful, beautiful side. A side with majesty and reverence in honor of Christ and the men and women who have died to themselves and lived for Him throughout the ages. I never could have imagined it, but as I type this I realize that this is one of the many ways that God shows himself to us. He uses our experiences (such as my choice to attend a Catholic university) to show us different aspects of His nature. He is teaching us, with every step we make in life, about faith in Him, about laying down our selves for Him.
I know that I wouldn’t trade life at UD for life anywhere else. If I were to go back in time, I know that I would make the same exact choice to attend this school and meet the people I have met. It is all part of the larger picture, as we encounter people and experiences that introduce us to marvelous Revelation in Him.
For one of my last assignments of high school, I was commissioned to write a short story based on a work of literature this year. I chose to base my work of fiction on the theme and premise of St. Augustine’s Confessions (my favorite Christian treatise, by the way!)
Answers: by Rebecca W.
He hurried down the street, swerving this way and that to weave through the evening crowd along the sidewalks. A glance at his phone told him the time, and just as he raised his eyes to the church tower, the church bells tolled, their rings echoing deeply throughout the city. When he heard them he did stop, and pushed his cold-chafed hands into his pockets. The steeple rose above the building tops, it stood out, an old red brick cathedral in the metropolis. The sight of it held him and with a tightness in his chest and throat he stood, staring up at it through the bare branches of the trees, over the cold surfaces of these buildings.
His phone vibrated, shattering his focus. He held up the device and saw that he had received a text message from his mother, his gentle mother, waiting at home for his return. She doesn’t need to always wait, he thought, almost bitterly.
“Augustus, I look forward to hearing about the first day of the semester. I’ll be waiting up. J”
He replaced the phone in his pocket and started walking again, pressing against the frigid winds weaving like ghouls throughout this grey city. In all honesty, he began to believe he had chosen the wrong college plan. The wrong focus. The classes…they served to affix his mind with the philosophical questions, ponderings, and insights he had known and wrestled with forever, it seemed. His enthusiasm for investing time and energy in reading the meditations of classical ages…his enthusiasm seemed leaden within him, encrusted by icy indifference. And that feeling dismantled everything about his future, his present, and his past. Augustus’s stride quickened and at last, after an empty hour of pushing past people and ignoring the cold biting his face, he turned onto his street. The apartment he and his mother shared was at the opposite end, but he hurried, his drained mind hardly comprehending the space of time.
“I’m home, mom,” he called, slinging his coat on the rack as he slid the door chain in place. His mother suddenly appeared at the end of the hall in the kitchen doorway, surrounded by the golden glow from within that room.
“Augustus! How was it? How did you like your classes?”
He shrugged and slipped past her to set his backpack down on the window seat.
“Fine,” he said briskly.
She gave a small laugh but then as she watched him her smile became a slight frown. “Just fine?”
“I mean, not much happens on the first day,” Augustus sank into the chair to pull off his leather boots.
“Which class do you like best?” his mom prodded.
“Oh…astronomy, I guess.”
“What about the philosophy one…the Philosophy in Literature class that you signed up for?”
“Fine,” Augustus repeated, even more tersely. He pulled his backpack into his lap and unzipped it, shuffling around for his homework assignment notebook.
His mom sat down across from him, watching him with a thoughtful purse at her mouth. Her eyes, gray-green like his, gazed at him with a steadiness he suddenly found discomfiting.
He felt driven to answer her look, offer at least some explanation for his attitude of disinterest. “Things have changed, I guess. None of it clicks for me. I want to understand too many things, and I just can’t find a way to…relax. I don’t know…” he bit his lip and studied a pen he’d pulled out of the bag. “Maybe I just lost interest.”
His mother sat down at the table, resting her hands on the table. She leaned a bit towards him, and watched how his shoulder slackened, his head bent with weariness.
“Augustus, you were…so ready to begin last year. So full of enthusiasm to jump in, start studying, start working towards your goals…”
“It’s not the teachers, or the classes, or anything. It’s me. Just me.” He sighed, rubbing his jaw slowly. “Maybe it’s time I go a different direction. None of it feels…right…anymore.”
His mother sat back, biting her lip.
“Everything feels so indefinite. What we learn about. What we read. The professors don’t help. I want answers, but I can’t find any. No matter how much I try.”
“Answers to…” his mother prompted.
“Answers to why. How. I mean, it’s just so pointless. Why do I need to study what the Apostles wrote, what the saints of Byzantium wrote, the speculations of Greek philosophers? Maybe I’d be better off concentrating on one of the sciences. Biology. Physics. Those make more sense. I just…got so tired of it all today. I feel like I took the wrong turn in my education.”
As he spoke he sensed the rise of frantic dismay that had chased him on his way home. It caught up now, and he pushed back from the table, stepped out onto the apartment’s balcony, where he could hear the sirens and city sounds reverberating throughout the night. The stars were invisible against the glow of the metropolis. For one swaying, empty moment Augustus longed to see them. He didn’t care how many number of ancient writers, poets, and bards had written of the stars. At the moment, they were out of reach but real. The dizzying thought occurred to him that answers were the same as stars. Desirable answers that never appeared in the reading assignments or in the library books he’d borrowed for research. What did he need answers for? He knew his mother had wanted to ask, but didn’t, out of consideration. He folded his arms, causing his jacket to tighten along his shoulders, warming him in the chill.
Why did he want answers? Why did the disappoint strike him so hard when he lost a train of truth? Why did he open nearly every door available except for one? That one door…it stayed closed. It was the leather-bound book his mother had given to him at age 13. It was the book he ignored. Why didn’t he want to look for answers there? Maybe he feared the truth that existed, for real, within those pages. Like the stars, hidden from his view by the city lights. Always hidden and wanted. But never sought out. He still lived in the city. He still studied the answerless books.
It all came up rather suddenly. At least, I hardly expected it.
Recently I bought a Cintiq 13HD, which I’ve been coveting for a long, long while. There are Cintiq 22HDs and 24HDs, but both of those seem pretty unreasonable–price, size, and weight-wise. Since I’ll be off to college next year, I can’t really see myself lugging a huge and bulky 24-inch cintiq into my dorm room. I would probably have to do all my homework and whatnot on my bed or on the floor, and the dorm rooms at UD aren’t too big, from what I saw. The Cintiq 13 HD has turned out to be the perfect fit. I haven’t been able to use it much so far, since I have been wrapping up my junior year, and tying up the strings with the SAT test. Joys. The math section kind of kills me.
Back to the thing coming up unexpectedly. The Art Institute of Dallas has Summer studio workshop camps for juniors and seniors every year, and I just found out about them recently. One of the summer studio workshops centers on media arts and animation, which is associated with the storytelling, character design, and cinematic elements of artistry. And, oh my word, I am on the verge of signing up! Just a few last minute things to arrange, and then it will be official. I have always loved storytelling, and I have always drawn, for as long as I can remember. When I was around 8 I started to seriously write stories, and it would be my currency, if you know what I mean. Whenever I acted out my parents would punish me by taking away the computer, thus my ability to type/write. However, this did not stop me from resorting to pen and paper! XD In my sophomore year I actually became more intent in improving my drawing ability, which since then has become a central passion in my life. I discovered so many amazing artists who inspire me tremendously. These include . . .
Brigid Vaughn (a UD alumni, btw 😉
Tracy J. Butler (writer/artist of the Lackadaisy comic–you can find the link to her site on the second photo, in its caption)
Erik’s-Desdemona (a deviantart member):
So there you have it. Just a few of the artists whose work inspires me. I also enjoy looking at various disney blogs and Art of (animated films) books. Glen Keane, Brittany Myers, Michael Haynes, Richard Williams, Milt Kahl–the list unravels on forever and I couldn’t possibly do that now. I need to go draw. But just a few more things . . .
At the Art Institute of Dallas two of the instructors of the animation workshop-camp, a husband and wife team, worked for Disney before teaching at the Art Institute. They designed the characters of Beauty and the Beast, and they also worked on the Lion King and Pocahontas . . . so, that makes me even MORE excited, if possible. My 18th birthday is almost here, which means adulthood. I am just beginning to wake up to the fear and joy of it all. I suppose this time of life can be pretty overwhelming. But God is walking beside me, I can’t wait to see where he will carve my path.
So for now, to all you creative people, “Here’s to climbing the Alpine Path” (referencing L.M. Montgomery’s metaphorical term for the artist’s journey) . . .
A poem I wrote for poetry class, the assignment being birds. I haven’t written much poetry lately. I remember that I scribbled down a lot more of it that one semester in private school. Because the teacher lectured me for sketching during class, I decided to safely jot down lines of poetry . . . *winks deviously* . . . while I innocently appeared to be taking notes. But sketching has always been my means of absorbing and staying focused. So that I wouldn’t fall asleep in the middle of class (even if it was one of my favorite classes at the school: Paideia).
What a ramble.
Oh, don’t you love the illustration I used in this post, by Alexandra Douglass?
//#found new favorite artist #I love the colors and ambiance she uses//
Birds do not dream,
They live a dream
Day by day, above
Our heads, and seem
To sing such reams
As humans shove
To scale vocal heights
And superior flights
That only birds can attain.