• Callie Trombley

Dusting off My Canvas

I once told someone my two pallets of choice are words and food. My canvas, then, takes the shape of a blank page of paper and a mixing bowl or copper pot. My studio a table in the corner of my living room, the swing on my front porch, or my cozy nook of a kitchen. My mediums either the clatter of keys on a keyboard or strokes of ink on the page, then again its flour on a countertop or the sizzle of butter and garlic in a pan. Perhaps here my two pallets collide as I attempt a multisensory stunt. Combining the sight and sound of words on a page with the scents and tastes of ingredients in a bowl, I desire to convey what being present has looked like for me in this season.

Prior to the pandemic, my life was zooming (and I don’t mean via video) at a rapid pace. Routine and busyness seemed to be forms of cultural anesthetics I succumbed too.

Wake up. Morning Prayer. Make-up. Coffee-to-go. Smoothie. Kiss the Hubby Goodbye. Commute. Podcasts. Office. Lunch in my car. Office. Chai. Commute. Podcasts.

Kiss the Hubby Hello. Dinner, pre-thawed, and thrown together. TV. Bed. Repeat.

Rather than vibrant, life was in black and white. And I don’t mean the glamorous, simpler-time-than-this black and white of Lucille Ball and Mayberry. More like the dust bowl, sepia Kansas of Dorothy before landing in Oz. I was functioning on muscle memory and auto-pilot at a dangerous speed that left my heart smelling of burned rubber and exhaust fumes.

One month containing a car crash, a concussion, and the Coronavirus outbreak later, the pace of life forcibly {yet, blessedly} slowed down. Initially, I was left in a dazed tailspin. My routine had to be rewritten. The rush was now hushed. Muscle memory, memory in general for that matter, had to be relearned and more intentional.

The grateful withdrawals from the numbing agent of busyness allowed my heart to breathe, recover, and rest. I was left with the gift of an abundance of time.

Work did not stop, it remained…even increased. But what happened before and after work became more real, apparent, and present. Instead of making it through a quarter cup of coffee due to the rush of my commute, I could enjoy a full cup of hot tea and some extra moments of silence. Rather than running to the car in a flash, I could take a morning walk in the park. The pre-planned, rushed preparation of meals in the evening became more hands-on, intentional, and creative. Our post-dinner television binge that lulled us to sleep was replaced by escapes through the pages of a book to the World of Narnia. Conversations moved from the couch to laps around the block or to taking in the spring evenings from our porch swing.

My sepia lensed life began receiving the strokes of crimson, auburn, marigold, emerald, sapphire, indigo, and violet the Creator intended it to have all along. The pace slowed allowing vibrancy to unfold. In the midst of the vibrancy, creativity was pulled off the top shelf, her cover dusted off, and her spine cracked open. In her pages, reminders of my love for the pallet of words and tastes. As well as the revelation of a simple truth, creativity has no expiration date.

This brings us to today. The present worth being in. The truths I learn in the creating.

As I take the time to create, I am better able to hear the voice of the Creator. I see His genius in the diversity of the ingredients. The sweetness of honey. The spiciness of cayenne. The bite of garlic. The tang of citrus. The cool of cream. The sharpness of onion. The subtlety of avocado. The juice of an apple. The dryness of a carrot. The minuscule grain of rice as it expands. The mass of sweet potato as it shrivels. The earthiness of salt. The elegance of berries.

He fashioned them all.

I hear His heart in the processes. In the kneading of dough and in its proving, I hear echoes of the same process I am undergoing. Being stretched and worked, resting in silence, then proven in the flame, He is making something beautiful. Something that can withstand pressure on the outside, yet is warm, inviting, and gentle within.

I taste His nature in the recipes. There is a balance of sweet and savory. Akin to the warmth and comfort of the caramelized sugar and semisweet chocolate in homemade chocolate chip cookies, His presence feels like home. Or the saltiness and slight bitterness of Brussel sprouts which I know are good for me despite their momentary unpleasantness, echo the truth of His Spirit’s conviction in my life.

In some ways, these moments serve as parables of the Kingdom. The Great Teacher still teaches. Not on a Galilean seashore or mountain top, but on the floured countertops of my farmhouse kitchen. He speaks not in the language of the Soils, Lost Coins, Sheep, and Goats, or Pearls in a Field. Instead, the King unpacks His Kingdom in the baking of bread, sautéing of onion, and decorating of desserts to this desperate disciple ever eager to learn more.

In being present, I am learning new ways to learn. I am learning to connect with the Creator through creativity. Our God is the Creator who fashioned both blazing star and humble starfish. He made us in his image. Therefore, he etched creativity into us all.

So, as I prepare to make the final strokes on this canvas with my keyboard and bring this particular piece to a close, I encourage you, for the remainder of this season and beyond, to pull creativity off the shelf. Dust her off. Give her a gander again. Then see what lies in store. I double dare you to imagine again. Dream once more. Pick up your old friends in the pages of books. Pen the stories you’ve been putting off. Attempt the recipe you’ve been anxious to try. Strum the guitar. Stroke the keys. Pull out the paint. Plant the plant. Clean the closet. Strap on the ballet shoes. Point the camera. Turn on the mic. Open the Word. Dig Deep.

Your canvas awaits.

The Creator beckons.

So…let’s begin.

Callie is a dreamer of dreams she knows are too large to accomplish on her own. She is a lover of laughter, food fanatic, and people are her passion. She currently serves as a pastor on staff at a church outside Athens, GA. She obtained her Masters in Intercultural Studies with an emphasis in Church Planting from Asbury Theological Seminary. Proud Navy wife, Callie married her best friend, Josiah Trombley, in December 2019. Together they are in the process of pursuing military chaplaincy and the calling to disciple the men and women of the US Armed Forces and their families.


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