undeveloped gifts

 I haven't attempted a watercolor landscape for years, and sometimes it has been over a decade between attempts.  If I had kept up a daily or even weekly practice of drawing or painting I imagine that I could have been very good at it by now, at age 58.  Back in high school  I was a better artist, at least technically, than I am now. It was fun/satisfying painting the image of the abbey from the hill just above it and then putting a Celtic rope border around it, but the quality of the result artistically is (pardon me for saying it this way) nothing to write home about.  So many people in our culture are gifted with wondrous abilities and potentials in relation to spiritual life, but peak in their engagement and practice of the faith in high school or earlier.  Decades later they are still trying to make sense of life with the religious tools of a gifted 14-year-old, so it is no wonder that so many in our culture reject religion as they understand it- who would be satisfied at age 58 with skills developed to their peak at age 14-18 and then allowed to deteriorate for 40 years?  No doubt everyone acquires new skills and insights to go along with our early gifts just by experiencing life; almost all of us manage to mature despite ourselves.  All of us have a spirituality even if we don't claim it or spend much time specifically developing it, but just as I imagine my watercoloring abilities could be so much more expressive, freeing, and productive of joy if I'd kept at them, I expect that spiritual disciplines do open us up to deeper joy and greater assurance.  But we all need a safe place to share the state of our art - a community where no one will laugh at us when we are vulnerable and reveal ourselves with all our foibles and failings.  For us, that community is the congregation of First Christian Church.  We are different ages, different in politics, different in theologies, Chocolate fiends, Cyclone fans, but instead of seeking more people who are just like us we choose stay with our diverse community and honor each other, enter into discussion and travel together in the Way.  I wonder about all those episodes of Gilligan's Island and Beverly Hillbillies - I might have spent my time better, but perhaps it's not so much about perfectling our gifts as enjoying them with profoud gratitude to God. Perhaps comparing our abilities to the abilities of others or to what might have been isn't where it's at, either, but rather doing what we can here and now because there is grace.  Here it is folks- my undeveloped watercolor world:

John