Prayer of the week (with audio)

By June Mears Driedger

By June Mears Driedger

“O God, come to my assistance,    

Make haste to help me!”  (Ps. 70:1)

Loving God, Compassionate God~

I need help. I’m stuck on a freezing river of inertia and unable to create.

I’m spinning my wheels, unable to gain traction to follow-through with my ideas, dreams, and projects.

So, please help me. Please come to my assistance.

Please send someone to give me a push, or put chains on my tires, or spread salt or sand, or whatever it takes to give my wheels a grip and to get moving.

Help me to not be afraid of the ice but learn to navigate myself without doing harm to myself or to my creativity.

And, please remind me that ice does melt, eventually. And that the spinning of my creative wheels may be just a season, and like the ice, the season will change.

Thank you God for coming to my assistance (I’m praying with confidence that you will respond to my prayer). AMEN.

“Eyes of the Heart” Book Winner

 

Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice

Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice

Thank you for your thoughtful responses to Christine’s wise words of tending to our moments. I am grateful.

The book winner is Deanna Risser–congratulations Deanna! I will contact you for your address to mail to you.

And, I encourage everyone to pick up/order Christine’s book.

A final thought for today:

Look and See photo

Tending the Moments–Guest post from Christine Valters Paintner (plus book giveaway!)

 

Christine Valters Paintner

Christine Valters Paintner

 

You have undoubtedly had an experience similar to this: you are moving through a most ordinary day, when suddenly something shifts.  Where there was drudgery and habit, suddenly you become aware of the way sunlight is spilling across the living room rug and your heart breaks open at the splendor of it all.  Or you see a loved one in a new way and revel in their beauty.  Or maybe it is as simple as savoring the steam rising from your morning coffee, like incense lifting the longings of your heart.

We move through our lives, often at such speed, that our perception of time becomes contorted.  We begin to believe that life is about rushing as fast as we can, about getting as much done as possible. We are essentially skating across life’s surface, exhausted, and disoriented.

Contemplative practice calls us to change our perspective and awaken to a different reality, one that is governed by spaciousness, slowness, stillness, and presence.  Contemplation invites us to tend the moments.

Moments are holy doorways where I am lifted out of time and I encounter the sacred in the most ordinary of acts.  Moments invite me to pause and linger because there is a different sense of time experienced.  Moments are those openings we experience, where time suddenly loses its linear march and seems to wrap us in an experience of the eternal.

Mythologist and storyteller Michael Meade says the word “moment” comes from the Latin root momentus, which means to move.  We are moved when we touch the eternal and timeless which is available to us in each moment we are fully present. 

My work in the world is to invite people into this kind of awareness, something that is available to each of us, we just need to cultivate skills and practices to tend the moments.

Art and spiritual practice are how you find this moment of eternity, or better yet, how you allow the moment to find you. We only need to make ourselves available to them, to receive them as the gifts that they are, rather than seek them out as something we are entitled to.

Call to mind a time when you were so present to the moment, to the sheer grace of things, maybe watching a child giggle with delight or your dog romp playfully in a field.  And then perhaps, the thoughts broke in. The ones which seem to wield only criticism and dissatisfaction.  Maybe you remember the items still languishing on your “to do” list back at home and you felt an anxious dread. Contemplative practice cultivates our awareness of this pattern, so that we might be able to change it. So that when moments come to visit us, we find ourselves savoring and basking in wonder rather than reaching for what is next.

Contemplative practice also cultivates our profound awareness of life as an unending stream of gifts, and from this arises the impulse to create.  When we open ourselves to the sheer grace of things, we tap into a source of inspiration.  We feel moved to create something out of that gratitude.

For me, photography and writing are the ways I feel most often moved to respond to the generosity of life. Try this next time you feel overcome by beauty – pause there as long as you can without moving to do something else or complete another task.  And then, when there is a sense of fullness or completion, pick up a camera or a pen, and allow them to become the tools to honor what you have experienced and your expression of deep gratitude. Rather than “capturing” the encounter, let this be a prayer, so that slowly over time you might find yourself in an unending litany of praise.

Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice

Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice

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Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, is the online Abbess at Abbey of the Arts, a virtual monastery and community for contemplative practice and creative expression.  She is the author of 7 books on art and monasticism, including her latest, Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice (Ave Maria Press). Christine currently lives out her commitment as a monk in the world with her husband in Galway, Ireland.

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Thank you Christine!

The publisher has provided a copy of Christine’s book, Eyes of the Heart, as a giveaway to one of you! Leave a comment by Wednesday, May 22, 9 pm (est) to be included in the drawing. Please leave info for contacting you.

(Notes) On Art into Faith

jan richardson books

“It is time for religions to open the eyes of a world that believes it has seen everything.”—Daniel Kantor, Graphic Design and Religion.

I recently heard artist and writer Jan Richardson at a conference. I’ve appreciated and admired Jan’s work for many years and I leapt at the chance to hear and see her and I wasn’t disappointed.  Jan’s paper collages have inspired me as I think about fabric art.

One workshop was led by Jan and her husband Garrison Doles on “Art into Faith” and I was nudged again to think how artists and “the arts” can become integral to faith communities. Here are my notes from the workshop and I want to emphasize these are my notes and I may have misheard or misunderstood Jan and/or Gary.

Jan pointed back to medieval cathedrals that used a “multimedia” of art forms to embed the biblical Story into and for the medieval congregants to ultimately embody the Story in their lives.

We need to reclaim the language of “symbol” and how symbols become a part of our existential being—and this is how the Story gets into our bones and we embody the Story of God’s love. Jan said there is a difference between reciting the Story and telling the Story, that is, we live into the Story and develop the skills to tell the Story through all forms of the arts and culture. It is a significant way to tell our story to God and to tell our story to each other. Yet, how can we, with our brokenness and our beauty, tell the Story (and tell our stories?).

These are the things we need:

1)     Engaging people in the creative process, including people who don’t think they are creative. We are co-creators and collaborators with the Creator so we do have creativity. But we have become a culture of spectators so we let the professionals present to us.

2)      We need to develop the talent and skills in people—like developing the “farm league” of a particular medium.

3)     Decide to seek out those who have developed the facility to tell the Story that creates new doorways into the Story.

4)     Art doesn’t happen in isolation but needs community, a fertile soil that provides cross-fertilization, and is focused on the process of telling the Story rather than a final product.

5)     Discern who are the “culture makers” in the congregation and can lead into the mystery of the Story rather than a literal interpretation that limits another understanding of God’s love and interaction with humanity.

6)      Challenge this statement: “I don’t know much about art but I know what I like.” Ask: why don’t you know much about art? Are you afraid of it? Are you choosing to be illiterate? Explore: How does art communicate with people?

7)   Art jars us out of a particular way of seeing, understanding, and knowing. Art is always a dialogue—what happens in the heart of the artist and the heart of the other. Sometimes art can help us talk about the Story in ways that we haven’t been able to before.

Find the line between the telling of the Story in a powerful and meaningful way and a place of emotional manipulation.

At the end of the workshop, Jan distributed a recommended book list:

Janice Eslheimer, The Creative Call: An Artist’s Response to the Way of the Spirit

Makoto Fujimara, Refractions: A Journey of Faith, Art, and Culture

Robin M. Jensen, The Substance of Things Seen: Art, Faith, and the Christian Community

Daniel Kantor, Graphic Design and Religion

Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water, Reflections on Faith and Art

Christine Valters Paintner, The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom

Luci Shaw, Breath for the Bones: Art, Imagination and Spirit: A Reflection on Creativity and Faith

Dick Staub, The Culturally Savvy Christian: A Manifesto for Deepening Faith and Enriching Popular Culture in an Age of Christianity-Lite

W. David O. Taylor, For the Beauty of the Church: Casting a Vision for the Arts

Sister Wendy, Joy Lasts: On the Spiritual in Art

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What are your experiences of integrating art into faith?