Be Thou My Vision

Greetings from Madison, Wisconsin! I am incredibly excited to begin my video production internship tomorrow with 2100 Productions, the media and communications team of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. A resounding THANK YOU to all of my supporters from the bottom of my heart. Your generous prayers and giving make it possible for me to explore my creative vision this summer!

The first snapshots of my transition to life in Madison.

Now I don’t write often for the public eye, but my journal has definitely served as a valuable forum for God and me to make sense of each day together. I offer this blog as a window into our conversation. Stories are one of my love languages, so I envision this creative space as a mosaic of portraits inspired by the people and places I connect with, this summer and beyond.

Ironically, my decision to enter the blogosphere was sparked by a personal portrait that I recognized in a friend’s story. At the end of the semester, she performed a beautiful poem she had written for a spoken-word house course at Duke. The memory of my tears during her delivery still lingers on my cheeks; in her eight stanzas, I saw a jarringly clear mirror of myself. Somehow, her poem perfectly resonated with my internal experience, crystallizing emotions I have keenly felt but struggled to reconcile this year. In her words, I heard my story; with her words, I felt that I could tell my story. It was serendipitous and surreal. She later told me, “Chrislyn, this semester I learned that words have so much power, and writing is an act of worship.” Indeed, where I had none, her words supplied me fresh colors for my cloudy canvas, lifting my eyes up again to the Artist who paints the clouds every day – and this reconnection has brought me immense peace.

As I enter my final summer of college, I hope to explore visual peacemaking, the art of reconciliation through stories of shared human experience, like the one above. When told authentically and sensitively, stories have the power to change hearts and transcend every kind of border. I once heard a speaker say, “Stories are dangerous and subversive. Does this make them bad or good? If you want to maintain the status quo, you crush the storytellers. But if you want the world around you to change, if you want to get in to the backdoor of someone’s heart — you tell a story.”

My pulse always quickens when I read that quote. “Amen, sign me up!” my heart sings. But how do you tell a story in a way that inspires people to be the change they want to see, for good? That’s one of my big questions this summer… and I think a good story to start with is the Gospel. Hence the intersection of my craft and my faith at IV for the next twelve weeks! So far, I have identified four personal goals for my summer internship. Since I love to make lists, here goes:

  1. Explore storytelling, words, and images as an act of worship. As I give God the creative gifts He’s given me, I trust that my vision will align with His. Hoping to gain clarity in tangible next-steps, my ethics as a filmmaker, and a subject of focus.
  2. Learn (to love) to cook. Follow my (and friends’) culinary adventures this summer!
  3. Devour films and books. À la Jim Jarmusch, Golden Rule #5. Questions to self: What inspires me? What’s working well in media that inspire me/others?
  4. Rest. I am actively resisting the urge to fill up my calendar with to-dos. After all, “Creative Sabbaths” – one day committed weekly to conversations, original projects, and reflection – did wonders for me this semester. Creativity and spontaneity need space to work their magic!

Going forward: Please engage with my art, and tell me what it makes you feel. Comments, emails, reposts – let’s have a conversation. I want to create images that move hearts and hands, and with your help, I hope to keep discovering what moves me to do so.

Thanks for joining me on this journey! I can’t wait to share the stories that find me. In the words of the esteemed Ellie, “Adventure is out there!”

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