Monday, April 28, 2008

To the Road-Weary

Contributed by Amber Butler

A few days ago I finished reading The Grapes of Wrath for the first time and found myself ironically comforted. Through the travail of uprooted homes and loss of income, the characters in John Steinbeck’s epic show that despite all, life goes on and they find the way through, and they even find the way to give out of lack. In my super-pseudo-secure lifestyle I am at times dead to my real life—and frenzied with the insecurity of trying to create something out of nothing…with no guarantee in the end. This book helped start me thinking beyond my current limits and realize that generation upon generation has continued their choice to live against striking odds. At times the road for the artist appears just as obtuse.

What I loved about it most is that it brought hope for myself—that I will have the strength to face the challenges I know are ahead of me, and to make choices that are not based on fear of what I will lose. There is so much that we can lose and there is nothing we can lose that that truly defines us. (What angst, what bitter seeds there are to swallow!) It helps to practice letting go before the loss comes. I cannot say that I am reconciled with loss as a feature of human life but it stares me in the face every day; I must find ways to move beyond it.

I recently began a landscaping job where I am out of doors most of the day and asked to submit my body to manual labor. For me, this has been a needed switch from my “head-heavy” thought life where I have tried to think my way through everything. The rest of you may have figured this out already, but moving your body does wonders for your soul.

I wrestle with the problem of pain constantly, my bread is often all torn up in tears; but there’s too much good in the world to throw in the towel. God is an infuriating whirlwind of mystery but damnit those spring blossoms on the trees just about make up for it.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Announcing DSCo Conference June 2008!!

We're hoping that June 13-15 is still an open weekend on your calendar because DSCO folks from all over the country will be gathering in Charlottesville, VA with the theme of Is Christianity Optional? as a central focus for the weekend. This is an issue that appears more and more relevant to our spiritual journeys. Members of our community will be presenting perspectives on this question and the time will be used to open discussion and share insights.

Jesus, Religion and Culture Summit:
Following Jesus: Is Christianity Optional?

What it's about: We keep running into people who are wholehearted followers of Jesus who are using spiritual practices from other religions (meditation, prayer cycles, etc), or are following Christ in different cultural context (rather than converting people to the Christian religion). 2000 years ago the early followers of Jesus wrestled with the question of whether they had to be Jewish to follow Christ -- we're wrestling with whether we have to be a Christian. We see Jesus as central. We commit our lives and worship to Him alone as we look for new insight into what that means about our connections to religion and culture. The goal -- to come out of the weekend more in love with and committed to Christ, free to follow him and serve Him wherever he calls us.

The format of this conference is a bit different than we are accustomed to in that we will be using a local church facility (Charlottesville Mennonite) for our meetings. It is available Friday evening and Saturday all day. Sunday morning we will be gathering in a local park. The church is located downtown in Charlottesville. Lodging and meals will not be included in the conference registration so individuals are responsible to make their own arrangements. We are hoping to share a few meals together--more to come soon. Charlottesville's downtown features many great shops, venues and restaurants and will provide an urban background to our time together. For those who are interested, there may also be an informal pre-gathering on Thursday the 12th.

Lodging suggestions:

Local community members may be willing to open their homes to guests, but all space is on first come, first served basis. Jon and Christa Reuel have also offered their large yard outside of town as a space for people to camp if they are interested in that type of accommodations. Otherwise, information on lodging in the Charlottesville region can be found at

We'll post more details as we have them--but consider this blog a space where we can collaborate and coordinate while preparing for the conference. The official signup will come soon, we hope you will be able to come. Start thinking about whether there is anyone else you want to invite as well.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Arts & Business

One area that DSC focuses on becoming a resource to its members is in the intersection between art and business. An article in the San Francisco Chronicle details the stories of several artists who are coming to view themselves as entrepreneurs, but still struggle with the balance between the creative side and business side of their work. As we are on this journey ourselves, hearing a little more of how others are doing it can provide crucial encouragement at an important moment along the way.

Christopher Knab, a music business consultant, also has a great article encouraging artists to feed both their creative self and business self in order to experience true growth.

If you're just getting started with the idea of your art as a business, Arts Business Management gives a nice overview of several areas to start thinking about. And if you've already gotten started, this site may remind you of things you've overlooked.

DSC has attracted both artists and entrepreneurs to our ranks. While each of us may feel stronger in one area or another.. we'll find that both activities pull on our creative energies and are closer to each other than we first realize.


What are your latest triumphs or pitfalls with art and business? Any tips? What are you trying?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Seeds in the Wind

On occasion we want to share the work of those in our midst. This week take in a recent poem by Amber Butler. Other submissions to share (word, image, etc) may find their way to our inbox at

Stuck in the Middle with You

March shafts of ice like sticks
over spring’s budding twigs;
lost in transition
from somewhere to nowhere;
uptown and downtown,
nowhere’s looking pretty slim—
but somewhere to begin again.

Where did agony begin
and does her tail have an end,
or is it lounging from this
end of time to the next
and the next after?
Switching swick,
switching swick,
swiping with swiveling nicks.

Do I make my story a travesty?
A tragedy told to myself
and no one else,
a berating for a farthing
and far I never get;
stuck in my corner with a stick,
switching swick,
switching swick.
In a maze I might better find my way
and stop to contemplate,
than I do with the open road,
the unknown, the peculiar moments of choice
propelling me upon them.