I don’t think I’m the only one longing for “home”. But when we break it down, what are we really wanting?
“Lord, what you do not do remains undone.
If you will not help, I will gladly surrender.
The cause is not mine.
I will happily be your mask and disguise,
if only you will do the work. Amen.”
— Martin Luther
We have spoken of art as a means to enrich the imagination as we turn towards God, allowing us to connect with him more honestly and with understanding. Religious poetry shapes us in this way also, if not even more directly. Hopkins, Donne, Dickinson, and many of the Romantics–who even without intension speak of God’s world as if stripping a veil–have been my gateway to a sacramental appreciation for life. I would like to think that spiritual sensitivity did not end with them.
Perhaps an image immediately comes to mind when I speak of feasting your eyes on art. For instance, the captivating gaze of Girl With a Pearl Earring, or the striking color palette of a Matisse. Now take this same idea and think of feasting on God–mulling his characteristics over in different lights, and celebrating our dance of living in response to God’s presence. This is the opportunity that sacred art offers. Respected art historian Timothy Verdon has dedicated his masterful work Art and Prayer to helping us receive sacred art as a gateway to prayer.
“I have often been asked if my Christianity affects my stories, and surely it is the other way around; my stories affect my Christianity, restore me, shake me by the scruff of the neck, and pull this straying sinner into an awed faith.” ~Madeleine L’Engle
As the long nights descend and the trees grow naked, Advent waits in the marrow of winter’s chill despite the twinkling lights. It is a season of stripping away, even, some might say, of death. It is out of this barrenness that Gayle Boss bore All Creation Waits. Behind the dull cloak of winter green things sprout and new life bulges, it is but the hush before a new beginning.
In reading this book I have gotten the sense that I have come to know Bobby a little bit. He writes in a very personal manner as if everything he has chosen to say comes from deep within him. He pours himself out here because he is writing about what he himself has been molded by, and yet it is beyond him. This isn’t a book pushed out to fulfill a marketing niche, but a sincere guide worth returning to.
Love, Henri is a collection of correspondence from the late highly respected Catholic priest, professor, and pastor Henri Nouwen. Nouwen came to me highly recommended, but I was still surprised how deeply impactful the content of mere letters could be. These are words of friendship, constructive criticism, sympathy and encouragement sent by Nouwen to address various needs in his friends and acquaintances throughout his life. I filled the pages with ink stains.
As I pensively wandered through a cemetery this morning, the weight of this reality surrounded me: I sit among beings awaiting resurrection. You can almost feel the longing in a graveyard, the yawning patience, the crusty waiting. Everything rests on pause, held in the drawn out sigh of dirt and decay. But then, we too, the living, await resurrection. We pilgrimage among still festering wounds and brokenness. At times we circle old patterns, are pierced by grief, or feel the internal chill of winter. Demonstrated through baptism’s dip into grave-like waters, and then the lift into new air, we have been promised fullness of life to come. But in the mean time life sometimes looks like death. Despite this reality for each one of us, somehow it is often easier to “show face” and pretend to be more healed, more whole than we are.
This book did not really begin to speak to me until I went out into nature this last weekend, hiking up to Multamonah Falls in Paradise, MI and ferrying across Lake Huron to walk the clear beaches of Mackinac Island. It was there I realized how much Luci Shaw’s Thumbprint In the Clay had infiltrated my perspective.