Every morning I ride my purple bicycle to German school, my backpack in the big basket on front. Even in summer the early morning air is a bit chilly, but by the time I pedal my heavy Fahrrad the three miles to my destination I will be out of breath and sweating in my short-sleeve t-shirt.
The Hamburg air is dense, heavy with moisture and with something else that I can't put my finger on . . . no matter the temperature, the damp settles into your clothes, into your entire being. But here I am, out in the open, spreading my wings and filling my lungs:
finally unafraid to leave my little apartment and to test my growing vocabulary;
bravely navigating the winding cobbled roads of our northern town;
accepting the gift of alone-time, recharging a bit so I can be a good mommy to my sweet girls;
laughing with my new friends at school as we carefully articulate the cumbersome words.
I am so very very blessed. But adjusting to living in Germany and trying my best to feel "at home" here has been a bigger challenge than I expected. I've spent lots of time cooped up, waiting for spring, waiting for more confidence, waiting for friendships to blossom, waiting for everything to just . . . make more sense.
But during the past 8 months God has also placed in my path a number of people with stories full of challenges, hardships and pain that I can't even imagine coping with. And it seems that my troubles pale in comparison.
Has this ever happened to you? You see others struggling, and feel almost embarrassed at your own season of relative peace. Or maybe it's the other way around: you are the one carrying a heavy burden, and you wonder, "when will my load become lighter?!!" I think most of us have been on both sides of this feeling . . . I know I sometimes feel both things at the same time!
Our "cages" can take many forms. Some are the tedious "waiting rooms" in life, when you feel like you're standing still and you wish your life could simply move forward into a season of greater freedom and fruitfulness. Other cages are oppressive prisons: depression, addiction, sickness, poverty, slavery, abuse . . .
Of course, none of our troubles are exactly the same. But the thing is that your story is just that: it's YOUR story and no one else's. No one else can feel the exact same things you feel, walk the exact same path you have take. Rocky ravines or grassy meadows (and most likely, a mixture of both), no one can take our stories away from us.
This is my HOPE, and the message I want my art to convey:
That with every challenge our wings would be built up with strength.
That we would have the strength to wait when we must
and the strength to flee our cages in victory.
That our stories would be an encouragement to others
and even a way to rescue those struggling under oppression.
These are all the things I've been thinking about lately as I've been working with cage imagery in my artwork--I have several works-in-progress and I hope to share the finished works later this summer in a re-opening of my Etsy shop.
This week was finally the beginning of the *official* German summertime . . . I hope you all get a chance to "fly the coop" this weekend and enjoy summer wherever you are! Check out what's going on in the studios of other soulful, creative ladies at Studio JRU!