Friday, March 7, 2014

Art Journaling through Lent {Leaving the old}

"Now you come to realize that you must leave {the old country} and enter the new country, where your Beloved dwells.  You know that what helped and guided you in the old country no longer works, but what else do you have to go by?  You are being asked to trust that you will find what you need in the new country...The new country is where you are called to go, and the only way to go there is naked and vulnerable."
Henri Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love

I went with a friend this week to see Son of God.  I didn't have any expectations, hadn't heard much about the movie, and went with an open and prayerful heart.  So much has happened, so many spiritual bones broken and reset, since I saw The Passion of the Christ a decade ago.  True to the life of faith that never stays the same, I am a completely different person than I was then.

The character that spoke to me the most in the movie this week was Peter.  I was struck by his willingness to leave his life to follow Jesus, and his transformation throughout the film, even with his stark humanness.  If I look closely at myself, I am much less willing to leave the familiar, the "old country" in Nouwen's words.  But everything about the ministry of Jesus was about leaving the old, even harshly rejecting it, and stepping into the new.  

What is the new that he wants me to step into?  I feel as if I am always seeking and never actually going somewhere.  So I turned my ear to listen.

"I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed."  And John bore witness: "I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him...He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.'"
John 1:31-33

As I went about the next day, I found I had so many images and thoughts crowding my mind.  How could I bring them together in my journal, the place that I use to process and remain open- hands, heart, spirit.  I often don't know what the page will yield, as it is a dialogue over which I don't always have control. I first chose background collage papers that connected with my thoughts- a map, an encyclopedia page on St. Peter's cathedral, a scrap in blue, a handwritten piece with the word "yes" in script- and collaged them in.

The reminder of my baptism was before me, and a blue page with a shadowed stone passage called.  I found a vintage children's image, and he made me think of Peter.  Impassioned, impulsive, yet eventually unshakable.

I had a picture that kept visiting my mind, of a transparent "self" layered over the images.  There have been many symbolic "selves" I have put into my art journals over the years, but this time I finally settled on an actual rough self portrait sketch on tracing paper overlaying the collage. 

I knew the blue spoke of baptism- by water and fire and spirit.  And when I think of spirit I also think of a dove, so I transferred a vintage image I found online.

And the found words that found me...

The page felt complete.  And so did I.


Read John 1:19-51 with new eyes.  The relationship between John the Baptist and Jesus is tenuous and yet transformational for them both.  Can you imagine that moment of baptism?  When Jesus leaves his anonymous life behind and begins his ministry?  When John meets the purpose for his calling face to face?  What is it that you must leave behind to step forward into the life the Spirit desires for you?  Our faith life moves in fits and starts, never linear and never gradual.  Center yourself in God and ask Him what's next.  Get a clear glass bowl and fill it with water.  Meditate on verses 32-34.  Touch the water and reflect on the experience of baptism.  

In your journal find a way to incorporate all that this season is bringing up in you.  Photos, sketches, colors, clipped images.  Choose a representative symbol for yourself.  Journal in and around the "self"; incorporate the water somehow, either with paint, or water soluble crayons or pencils, or collage and sketch.  Use words that speak to you of turning: change, direction, repentance, follow, path, u-turn.

Lord, your example of following is hard.  We want to follow by heart, not in word and deed only.  Show us, lead us, invite us, open within us a doorway to yourself.  Amen.

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  1. Oh Christine. Again, loving your process here. So inspiring and intentional. And this "What is the new that he wants me to step into? I feel as if I am always seeking and never actually going somewhere." I too feel as if I'm always seeking. I'm an information gatherer by nature, so maybe that's why. I'm looking forward to carving out some quiet time over the weekend to do this as today has been a little bit of a whirlwind. <3

    1. I hope you were able to create this weekend Julie. I certainly know about the struggle to carve out time!! This series has been such an eye opener for me though. I really am so much more connected to God if I make the time... xoxo

  2. Hello there, so glad I found you and love what your doing for lent. I too saw the movie and was very touched by it, Peter was so amazing to watch and see me growing like him. Seeing Jesus and his soft sure ways moved me to tears, reminds me of myself. I want peace wherever I go. I was just baptized last July and I'm still in awe of that feeling even now. I started going to church two years ago next month and am forever grateful for that brave first move I made by going. This has been a season of growing for me and I'm loving his word and seeking to be closer to him daily. Thank you so much for sharing your Lent and thoughts and inspirations with us.
    Not sure how my pages will go, I have a hard time art journaling, especially if there's thinking involved. Will keep you posted.

    1. It's wonderful to have you beginning with this Dawn! Allow there to be no expectations, just let whatever happens on the page happen. I often start with one image, or one color and go from there. Congratulations on your baptism! I remember mine well. Such a beautiful transformation that never ends- we just move from glory to glory.