I am two weeks in to this Lenten journey and I am so thankful that I committed myself to its completion. Life happens, my focus is fractured, but I have found ways to remain in John, to abide with the words, throughout my day and let the images and colors come naturally. It has made creating more of a perpetual endeavor, rather than a sporadic one. I am thankful for that reality.
I have read John 6 for the past couple of days and found no way around the fact that I want to spend more time there. I created a page based on the feeding of the five thousand, and plan to spend more time in my journal with the remainder of the chapter. I find simply too much- words that are too familiar, miracles that require more attention- and so I am slowing down.
I have said before that we put Jesus in a very neat and attractive box. Enough of that. I want to see Him for the radical He was, and truly internalize the absolute impossibility of His fully human/fully divine nature. I want to live into my own divine nature as well, with the presence of the Spirit within me, and experience unity at my deepest level. I don't want to have separate places and times for my spiritual self to safely wake up and have her say, I want her to live open and on the surface of my life at all times.
"The Word becomes flesh, and thus a new place is made
where all of you and all of God can dwell.
When you have found that unity,
you ill be truly free." ~Henri Nouwen
I see through this gospel of John the slow realizations of the disciples. They know they are in Jesus' inner circle, but even that leaves them outside of so much. They accept, they feebly give answers that reveal their lack of understanding, and then they praise. Most importantly, though, they follow with whole, yet human, hearts.
I began my page with spray inks in desert-like colors- deep brown, and butterscotch yellow. I used a wipe to blot and then swipe color upward to blend.
Using a neutral scrapbook paper I tore randomly to get the effect of hills. Then I used a small brown ink pad to age and define the edges before using mod podge to adhere them over the ink. I wanted the rough illusion of a crowd scattered up the mountain and made simple shapes to suggest them. I didn't want "finished", and I like how they turned out.
I had a hard time coming up with a plan for the miracle itself. This process for me is relaxed and organic, so I try not to think too much. I didn't have time for, nor did I want, a realistic depiction of Jesus and the abundance-from-scarcity miracle. I settled on a sketch of a basket on a vintage dictionary page, and blue tissue paper to symbolize the divine.
I sketched a cross on the hill. I'm not even sure why. It just wanted to be there. Maybe it is the bridge between the divine and the human on these two pages.
The finished page is stark and simple, and I added the five loaves and two fish near the basket, and the words "blessed and broken" to speak of the miracle, and I suppose the sacrifice to come as well.
Sometimes the simplest pages are the most complete, if you know what I mean.
I would love to know how you are experiencing this process, if you're following along on the journey with me. Are you reading differently with art in mind? Are your eyes opened in new ways? Is it a challenge to add the elements of color and image? I'd love you to share.
Friday I will be sharing images of my art pages, but also links to some friends who are creating on this Lent path and have shared their blog posts with me. If you've posted, please leave the link in the comments.
Read through John 6 with fresh eyes. Why was Jesus going up on the mountain and why were the people following? I often wonder how much Jesus' humanity obscured for himself His divine nature. But Jesus' divinity is front and center in this passage, as is His own knowledge of the power He holds. Ponder that realization and note how you see Him through that lens. Create with images to reflect on this- traditional images, modern lines, words only, abstract color- in whatever way you are moved. Move through John 6 or stop after the feeding of the crowd. Let the Spirit move you, and not the other way around.
Jesus make the small gifts in us miraculously multiply until we can do nothing else but break open and share that divine abundance with others. Give us your vision, your compassion, and your wisdom. Create in us a unity of self, so that we can be ever more like you. Amen.