Megan Lebo

"Just be. Its what the world denies you" – Brandon Heath

Category: To Create…

Redemption…

As I reflect back on the last couple of years I grieve over time that seems to me wasted and meaningless.

But is anything ever meaningless?

Maybe the hardships allow us to appreciate and see clearly the times of abundance.  Maybe the emptiness of a barren wilderness allows for proper fulfillment when you reach the land of plenty.

Its an incredible feeling, coming to the end of a dry and desolate road, looking out onto the flourishing landscape that now lies ahead of you.  So what is gained from that time spent in darkness and desolation?  What is it we find that gives meaning to such cunfusion and emptiness?

Redemption.

Everything in our lives plays out this drama, for we discover that there was never anything within ourselves to give us direction, strength, or endurance along this road.  The truth we find and the reality we can now embrace is that we were never really lost and we were never really forgotten.  Our lives were merely playing out the beautiful picture of redemption.

We were always Yours and You never lost sight of where we were.  You brought us home.

Redemption by Jars of Clay

We made it to a strange town

Going down the wrong road

Like any story retold

Couldn’t find a common ending

We’re way gone, be gone, looking for our own way

We needed a distraction

You said you were redemption

We knew it as a wrong turn

We couldn’t know the things we’d gain

When we reach the other border

We look out way down past the road we came from

We’re looking for redemption

It was hidden in the landscape

Of loss and love and fire and rain

Never would have come this way

Looking for redemption

We were looking out past the road we came from

Looking at redemption

Hidden in the landscape

Of loss and love and fire and rain

Never would have come this way

Looking for redemption

In the eyes of sorrow, eyes of rage

What a sordid histories they played

The drama of redemption

Redemption

I am new life…

I am new life

I am restored, emerging from ashes

You have brought me up and steadied my feet

I stand restored and alive

Renewed

I am new life

No longer asleep, eyes opened to the dawn

With hope of new beginnings

I tread now on ground once weak but now firm

Alive

I am new life

What I was is now gone

Washed by the water

Refined by the fire

Reformed

I am new life

In freedom I stand

In freedom I shout

In freedom I dance

Free

I will paint Your grace

I will sing of Your mercy

I will dance to Your freedom

For I am new life

Why I had to end your life…

Please don’t look at me that way

I want you to hear what I have to say

I want to try to help you see

What having you around would have meant to me

Please don’t cry but understand

That you were just never part of the plan

I had dreams and hopes for life

So many things to see and feel and do

My house, my man, my other kids

There was just never room for you

Please don’t look at me that way

You’re not hearing what I have to say

I couldn’t imagine giving any more love

The little family I already had was enough

We wanted to travel, fix the house, and change careers

That would have never happened with you around here

We were done, moving on and gaining ground

You only complicated the scene

I thought you would eventually come around

And understand what having you here would really mean

Please don’t look at me that way

Don’t you understand what I’ve had to say

It was my choice not yours to make

You have no right to tell me it was a mistake

Your strange and unwelcomed intrusion

Would have only brought fear and confusion

Why are you being so selfish

Don’t you see what your life would have done

Derailing what was already established

Restarting a race I had already run

You’ve got to stop looking at me that way

I have told you all that I have to say

I can’t take it back or make it right

You never had the chance to win this fight

But you’ve seen how you’ve stirred up so much strife

And that’s simply why I had to end your life

To act is to be…someone else

Have you ever just wanted to be someone else entirely for a day?

Being you can sometimes get old, right?  I mean, you’ve been you all your life.  Your quirks are the same day in and day out, your insecurities lingering beneath your core like residue.  Wouldn’t it be great just to take a break from yourself for a while and be somebody else?

I have recently stumbled upon a way to press pause, so to speak, on my own life and switch screens into another story, another life, that in my current skin I would never get the chance to be.

Its called acting.

I have over the years heard stories of actors who literally become the character that they are portraying but I never really understood what that meant.  I think of actors such as Christian Bale and Heath Ledger among others who are (or were) known for their extreme methods of preparing for their roles and staying in character.  These extremes often resulting in the inability to separate themselves between the part they are playing and the reality they are living.

I have myself recently experienced this phenomenon, if you will, albeit on a much (much) smaller scale than the aforementioned professional actors.  I have in essence been given the opportunity to be someone who is so unlike myself (and yet at the same time I think we can all find elements of a character that mirror our own in some way, shape or form).

I have had very little acting experience, almost none really, and was a bit nervous about being offered to play the part.   This part was such that, if portrayed improperly, it could very well throw off the mood of the whole play.  I quickly learned what it meant when people said that there are no small roles in a production.  Every character paints a portion of a portrait from the lead actors to the one-liners.  That one line you have could easily make or break a scene resulting in a disconnect from the audience involved.

I initially struggled a bit with feeling like I wasn’t quite “getting it”.  All of these thoughts kept running through my head like, “what if, what the directors saw in my audition was a fluke?”, “What if I cannot truly exhibit the emotion of the character”, etc.  Acting can truly be an emotional rollercoaster as the inner battle between your role and your reality rages inside.  I know that to some this all sounds incredibly sensational but to an actor who cares about their craft its all very real.

I remember the night when the whole thing clicked.

When the emotion of a scene takes shape it almost becomes its own entity.  A life form emerging on the stage.  When the actors are all in sync the colors of what is happening become shockingly visible.

It’s a strange and slightly unnerving sensation to be so immersed.

During the height of emotion, as I lay blame at the feet of those around me, the director yelled, “Stop!”.  At that moment I was the equivalent of a balloon that had just been stuck with a straight pin.  It was like being jolted awake from a dream and suddenly realizing “Wait, that was not really happening.”

Out of nine performances I was only able to get back to that point twice.

Its all part of what I’m learning and part of what I’m loving about being an actor.  (I use that term loosely because I really have only just begun to start acting.)  I am learning what it means to be someone else for a spell.  To experience life in another era, another state, or another part of the world.

Its somewhat liberating and slightly indulgent to let go of your inhibitions and be someone else and not have anyone think strangely of you.

I have attained a new respect and a new love for this art-form.  Everything from the set design to the dedication of the actors to the vision of the directors.  It’s a beautiful craft that teaches, informs, and inspires!  And not just for the audience but for the actors as well.

Being in this role, playing this part, has shaped me somehow and I don’t know that I’ll ever be the same.  It’s a form of enlightenment.  A type of freedom.

I pray that God continues to grant me this joy of experience and storytelling, and that I can impact others through this art as it has so powerfully impacted me.

Tiny Hands…

I dreamt last night I held you in my arms

So small and quiet

I kissed your head

And I loved you

I loved you more than myself

Your hair was black and soft

Tiny hands against my own

I closed my eyes and breathed you in

One day I will hold you in my arms

So small and quiet

I will kiss your head

And I will love you

I will love you more than myself

Chag Sameach and Happy Easter!!!

Some people view Easter and Passover as 2 separate celebrations by 2 separate faiths.

Passover is the Jewish rememberance of God’s salvation and deliverance of the people of Israel from the slavery and bondage of Egypt.  It is observed to remember that solemn evening where the blood of an unblemished lamb saved a people from the angel of death that had come to destroy the firstborn of all of Egypt.

Easter is what is observed in the Christian faith.  While clouded by many unfounded traditions, at its heart is the rememberance and celebration of a solemn evening where the blood of an unblemished lamb (Jesus, Yeshua) saved us from that dark angel of death, which is sin, that seeks to destroy every man.

I find no separation between the two events and desire to celebrate this weekend with both my fellow gentile friends and my dear Jewish ones.  This weekend is a celebration of life!  Life that was given to us by God through the sacrifice of a spotless lamb.  There can be no separation of the two events for one is the fulfillment of the other.

So happy Easter to all who celebrate and Chag Sameach to all of my Jewish friends celebrating Pesach (Passover)!

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P.S.  There is a song that is sung during Jewish passover celebrations called Dayenu.  Dayenu essentially means “It would have been enough”.  It is a song that looks back and remembers all of the Great works that God has done for His people.  The text speaks of events such as their deliverance from Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea stating that if God had delivered them from the hands of the Egyptians but not parted the Red Sea it would have been enough.

I have taken that theme and have written a song to remember, ultimately, that if today were to be my last that everything God has done for me would be enough.

Enjoy!

Surrealism and the human condition…

Over the past couple of years I have become increasing intrigued by surrealist art.  I say intrigued because I cannot honestly say that I like it.  Still there has always been a part of me that desired to understand it.

The dictionary defines surrealism as dictation of thought in the absence of all control exercised by reason, outside of all aesthetic and moral preoccupation.

While researching the philosophy behind the movement I was introduced to the idea of accessing the unconscious portions of your mind.  The surrealist artist, whether painter, writer or filmmaker, seeks to tap into or access the portions of the brain that contain the thoughts, images, and visions that our conscious mind is unaware of.  Surrealism, in its purist form, is an unfiltered, unbridled, continuous stream of thinking.

As an artist and a songwriter (with a seemingly perpetual case of writer’s block) I will admit that the idea of somehow tearing down the wall that obstructs the doorway to my creativity sounds exciting and liberating.  So I began researching surrealism and the access of the unconscious mind.

If all of this sounds a bit cult-like and strange, that’s because it is.

Surrealism and surrealist art stemmed from a cultural movement known as Dadaism that originated in Zurich, Switzerland during WWI.  Those who were drawn in Dadaism were taking a stand against the war, considered the modern world meaningless, and were, in nature, anarchists.  This movement is what laid the foundation for surrealism.

Anyone familiar with the works of artists such as Salvador Dali know that surrealist art is bizarre and often borders on or even crosses the line of disturbing.  This is especially evident in some of the “avant garde” filmmakers such as David Lynch. (See The Alphabet.  Or don’t.  I actually recommend the latter.)  The question that comes to mind when experiencing these strange works is “Where in the world do these ideas come from?”  Their bizarre nature tends to leave me feeling as though I just walked into the dark and secret corners of somebody’s life.

This led me to the question “What is the real nature of this art form?”.  Is this really something we should be tapping into?

If the philosophy behind this kind of work is unfiltered thought and ideas what does this say about the person creating it?

To be honest the desire to “free” myself and give reign to what is unconscious seemed strangely appealing.  I have in my life put up so many walls to guard myself against…well…I don’t know really, that even accessing the creative pools in my brain have become increasingly difficult.  The question I began to ask myself though was, as a woman of faith, should I be entertaining such Freudian ideas when the man himself viewed religion as an affliction and a form of neurosis.  Is this merely philosophy as opposed to faith?

I found an interesting answer when I stumbled upon a paper written by a Dr. Daniel C. Aikens titled “The Unconscious: A Christian Appraisal.  The paper itself is written in respect to psychology and Christian counseling versus the arts but he makes some very interesting points that can certainly be applicable.  He validates the existence of the unconscious by equating it with the heart.  He quotes Paul’s discourse in Romans 7 of the Scriptures on not doing what he wants to do and doing that which he does not want to do.  Dr. Aikens then poses the question “Where does this evil force called sin reside?  Could it not be that which makes up part of the unconscious within the human psyche?”  He then states, “The unconscious very well may be one element of the bastard of sin that infests the whole human race.”

I was suddenly very excited to hear that last statement, for that very idea had already occurred to me!  It was already my theory that the reason surrealist artwork causes such anxiety within me was because I was witnessing the core of the artist’s depravity.  Is tapping into the unconscious really just the exposure of everything that is wretched and evil within man?  Do I really want to know the deep contents of my heart?  I am already aware of my conscious tendency to lust, and to be angry, and to act with deceit.  Do I really want to know the things that are hiding in the deep recesses of my heart?

Mark 7:21-23 says:

“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness.  All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”

I do want to state, though, that I am not throwing out the access of the unconscious completely.

The unconscious, to the artist, can be a great pool to draw from.  I believe there to be great riches wading in the waters of the unconscious mind.  But releasing its contents without filters can be dangerous and boundaries need to be set.  If one is not cautious, evil, when given a foothold, will prevail.  Shedding light on our sin, confessing and coping with it through artistic expression, I believe is healthy and can be highly therapeutic.  But the sin nature that is at the root of every individual can also destroy the levees that are designed to protect us.

So to my fellow artists, whether you be musicians, painters, or writers, I encourage you to find your artistic freedom not in the depths of your unconscious mind (which is, in truth, the depths of our depravity) but in the first and greatest Artist that ever existed.

For in Him is true beauty, truth itself, and true love.

The battleground of artistic temperament…

“Artistic temperament sometimes seems a battleground, a dark angel of destruction and a bright angel of creativity wrestling.” – Madeleine L’Engle

I often find that creativity seems to accompany great turmoil and intense pain.  At times it feels that there is no other channel for which to navigate the complexity of human emotion.  Now that doesn’t mean that  hurt and pain bring forth ones artistic expression without difficulty.  On the contrary I have found that the most difficult stages of life seem only to incite a great necessity for artistic expression, not great ease.

Sometimes the act of creating is the only way to find peace.

Many people have difficulty understanding the temperament of an artist.  Its not unusual.  Most of the time I don’t think we fully understand ourselves.  Artists are often viewed as free-spirited and whimsical, which may be accurate at times.  But in truth (at least what I’ve found to be true) it feels that we are constantly trying to break free of some bond that has taken root in our life.

I don’t know, maybe thats just me, but I seem to only feel freedom when I’m creating.

But this world likes to tell you that its not practical to be an artist.  How will you pay for yourself?  Do you know how many people are trying to make it in the music industry?   Everyones an artist.  You are just not being practical.

I understand the money thing.  I do.  But you don’t understand what it feels like to feel that society was just not established with you in mind.

I’m worn out with feeling like I have to apologize for the way that I am.  I’m tired of feeling like I have to suppress my creativity in an attempt to feel normal and accepted by the standards of society.

I’m ready to let go!

The thing is, I’m not sure I really know how to let go.  You’ve never let me.  I’ve tried to meet expectations and have failed.  Not only have I failed but I feel that I have lost a part of myself.  I’ve lost the ability to channel.  I’m high strung and insecure and there is a wall that I’ve built up that seems to have gotten too high.  I can’t seem to climb over it anymore.

The only solution now is to knock it down.  But its going to be a lot harder to knock down that wall than it would be if I could just climb over it.

I know who I am now.  I’m not a teacher.  I’m not an accountant.  I’m not calculated and I’m not organized.  All I can think about is expressing things in a new and fresh way.  New words, new colors, new moves.  I understand emotions and tend to see through people.  I get poetry.  But ultimately and most importantly when I’m creating, I experience fulfillment.  And when all is said and done, and the song is finished, at the end of extracting that which causes such unrest, I experience peace.

And that peace makes it all worth it.