Halloween and Tradition

For Halloween, we’re excited to present something a little new. We’ve made our first foray into audio publishing! We’re only partly calling it a podcast for now. We thought we’d dip our toe in the water and see how you felt about it. Editors Janna Barber and Adam Whipple sat down with musician, producer, and ceramic artist David Clifton, who has lived both in England and in Knoxville, Tennessee, for a discussion about Halloween and the value of tradition.

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Gas Stations After Dark

While digging through some of her old poems, Tina Gregg discovered this particularly timely one for today. It was written late at night, still in anger, after returning home from an evening out. It was 17 years ago, but it could have been written almost any night.

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Memory of Flying

I was convinced that it wasn’t entirely impossible. Difficult and miraculous, perhaps, but not impossible. I reasoned that there must be a different way of perceiving the world that would enable a person to leave the ground behind – and fly. So, at around eleven or twelve years old, that is exactly what I did.

I remember it so clearly.

There was a ditch that ran alongside a portion of the long driveway that led to the log cabin I grew up in. An electric barb-wire fence ran down the far side of that ditch. It was a fence and ditch I knew very well. It was the fence I accidently hit with a golf club while trying to perfect my chip shot with fallen hickory nuts that had gathered in the ditch. It was the fence I accidently urinated on – twice, and it was the fence I spectacularly failed to jump over on my metallic red Mongoose BMX bike. I still have scars from that experience wrapping around both legs where the barbs dug into me as I struggled to free myself from the wire. Each surge of electricity running down it caused my muscles to spasm and lock up.

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A Journey of Faith Into the Unknown

Did you ever crawl into a small cave as a kid or venture into the dark woods that sat at the edge of your grandparent’s yard? Did you ever wonder when you would meet “the one?” Are you still trying to figure out your place in this world and your true calling? It’s frustrating isn’t it? The unknown. It is in these moments that we have to place our hope and trust somewhere or in someone coupled with our dreams. Often that trust is placed in the hands of a parent as a child. As adults we place our trust in man and often get our hearts cracked open because trust was misplaced. Man is fallible. My hope is that by now you have learned to place your trust in a heavenly father, Our Heavenly Father. Only He can truly lead us through the dark woods into the unknown with a spirit of peace that guides and gives comfort while we wait for the big reveal, the epiphany, the arrival into the known. That journey into the unknown takes faith.

Faith is a daily execution of one baby step after another believing in the unseen and the unknown. So for my family, we are exactly on that adventure through a dark forest without a flashlight and unable to see what is ahead. Yes, I said, “adventure” because it is all about perspective. Walking out a medical journey with my children isn’t something I ever expected. You see I have had to re-adjust my dreams for them and their future. But that re-adjustment came last after the acceptance of their new diagnosed limitations.  Accepting my children’s medical diagnosis felt like what I imagine drowning and falling off a cliff at the same time would. In that moment you are trying to suck the air into your lungs and instead you are taking in water as you feel yourself falling into an abyss of despair. I have wrestled with God quite a few times since that fateful day the doctor hurled those hateful and fatal words our way. I have been angry, self-reliant, and independent of my heavenly Father.  I have found myself standing in the middle of grief alone. I chose it.

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Melding the Artistic and Christian Lifestyles

Dance Project 2011 at Western Kentucky University. Photo by Andrew Duff

In the past few months, I have been feeling convicted about the difficulty of melding a Godly mindset with the highly emotionally driven reactions that seem to be required in the arts. I know there are a good amount of books and lectures about being a light in the world of performing arts, and maintaining a pure heart and mind. But I wan’t to talk about the paradox of maintaining a Godly mindset, contrasted with the actual mental technique of the performer.

I was a musical theatre major and dance minor in college. My acting teachers would consistently drill into me that I had to be emotionally transparent, let things effect me, and react very realistically. This naturalistic way of entertaining my thoughts ultimately led to me reacting in a very worldly way… to everything. I became obsessed with how high I could rev my emotions. Every thought I had quickly turned cinematic, and my emotions just outrageously flirted with the world. I experienced this worldly change creeping into my real life in the name of “transparency.” I even considered this change a success because I thought it was making me a smarter actress. But at the same time it was making me a weaker Christian due to my sinful nature. Let me explain why it is so difficult to have genuine emotional reactions and a make Godly choices at the same time.

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