Lately, I have been busy with college. Finals week is next week. Fortunately, most of my finals are the type where you write a final paper or project and turn it in. I'd much rather do that than study and sit down to take an exam. I have finished most of my papers and feel relieved. I got a early start on my final papers and took a study break this weekend. I went to a Imago-Dei Artists Retreat - it's a retreat for Christian artists - photography, writers, theatre, dance, visual arts. We camped at a retreat center. I had a good time meeting people and being encouraged. Here are some highlights...

David Taylor was the speaker. He is an Arts pastor at Hope Chapel, Austin, Texas. He said that he felt called to minister to artists. I felt encouraged by his word. As a Christian artist, I see my calling as reflecting the image of God and truth through a medium. My artistic medium is writing, painting, theatre and dance. I can never find enough creative outlets. Sometimes, other people view me as wasting my time in something that is 'secular'. Why should the calling of God be limited to one role? God calls every believer to live out His purpose, however there are different expressions of how one does that.

Small Atmosphere - the atmosphere was very laid-back. It wasn't one session jammed after another. There was time in-between to relax, enjoy the beauty of the outdoors, pray and socialize and meet new people.

'My child could paint that' - We watched a documentary about a 3 year old girl that paints modern, abstract art and has sold her paintings in art galleries and to collectors for thousands of bucks. Her name is Marla Olmstead. She is now 6. Her parents saved up $300,000 when she was four for her college fund. Dang it, I wish I was that talented at that age. I wouldn't have to work while studying to pay for college. It would be nice and even a luxury to be able to study full-time without having to work.

Dancing - I danced for 2 hours outside on the sunny, grassy field. I'm participating in a dance group at a church. It's mostly an eclectic mix of modern dance, ballet, and jazz. There was such a sense of freedom leaping across the field. We were dancing for the Lord. So it's even better.

Art Time - One of the things we did was paint a postcard about who I am as an artist for God. It made me think about my purpose and identity in Christ.

Painting - I had time to paint outside in the nice, warm weather and beautiful campsite. There were trees, creek and natural wilderness. Now, I understand why Romantic poets & writers of the 19th-century spent time outside enjoying nature. It's inspiring.

I felt renewed and focused. Sometimes, I feel inclined towards the mentality that artistic hobbies do not matter as much. I feel that it can be a valuable thing with a purpose. I enjoyed socializing with like-minded people.

Indu Shanmugam