Monday, March 31, 2014

Art Journey through Lent {Words}

"To live a disciplined life is to live in such a way that you want only to be where God is with you.  The more deeply you live your spiritual life, the easier it will be to discern the difference between living with God and living without God, and the easier it will be to move away from the places where God is no longer with you.  The great challenge here is faithfulness, which must be lived in the choices of every moment...Every time you do something for the glory of God, you will know God's peace in your heart and find rest there."  ~Henri Nouwen

In John 8 I read hints of my favorite chapter in all of scripture, John 15.  "Abide in my word," Jesus says, "and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free."  Reading further through this chapter I see more of Jesus' references to "words":

"...yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you."
"You do not understand what I say...because you cannot bear to hear my word."
"Whoever is of God hears the words of God."
"Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death."
"I do know [God] and I keep his word."

I couldn't get away from it, so I embraced it.  The Word, who was at the beginning of everything and created everything, speaking of words as life.  Listen to them, understand them, say them, witness them, hear them.  Yet the leaders of the day were in heightened opposition to Jesus at this point, wanting to trick him, trip him up, even kill him.  He said they didn't understand.  And really, neither do I.  I follow and I seek because of the 2000 years of filter, expectation, and reflection separating me and Jesus' ministry, death and resurrection.  So I lean in now, wanting to learn and understand.

Just prior to these interactions Jesus wrote in the sand {words again?} and cautioned only those without sin to throw stones.  He gave grace, mercy, pardon, to one who should have been condemned by the very laws of his own tradition.  But Jesus is the light, and he fulfilled and finished it all.

So I write, and I listen, and I create.  As Nouwen says above, I want to be so deep in my abiding that I can discern the difference between living with God and without Him.  That I can make those choices every moment to dwell where He is.

In my art journal, in response to this, I circled each of the references to "words" I found in John 8, and then I drew and cut out letters from an old encyclopedia to use on my page.

I love finding engaging books on the sale rack at the library.  These were a total of $1.25: a design textbook, and a beautifully illustrated children's book on the myth of Achilles.  For some reason design and architecture books are some of my favorites for art journaling. Something clean and structured about them, vibrant and bold.

I found design images using words and letters, as I reflected on the power of those symbols we take for granted, either in spoken or written form.  I placed them and collaged them into my page.

I used dot stickers and clipped a figure out of the children's book to symbolize my "abiding" in the word.  I wrote ABIDE in block text on a photo of a windowed building.

Using mod podge, I adhered it all on my spread, and added some more red {using tissue paper} and masking tape.

Collage excites me and speaks to me deeply.  For a while it was all I did, gluebook style, but I have fallen away from the practice.  This page reminded me why I love it so much.

This might be one of my favorites.


What do you need to be set free from?  Name it, write it, release it.  What are the words you most need to heed from Jesus' mouth and teaching in John 8?  Read and ask for illumination, let the words open you in ways they haven't before.  In this chapter Jesus speaks of Abraham as seeing him from those thousands of years before, and of seeing the Father and coming from the Father.  This is also the passage where Jesus asserts the blasphemous line, "Before Abraham was, I AM."  How does this all want to present itself on the page before you?

Lord, you are truth, and light, and freedom.  Speak to me the words I most need to hear.  Unlock my heart and show me where I can show mercy as you do.  I want to know what you wrote in the sand, and I want to have the boldness to follow God in the face of opposition.  Teach me, give me understanding, put your words in my mouth and on my heart.  Amen.

It seems that for me Mondays and Wednesdays are the ones for creating and posting going forward.  Life has been keeping me moving, and allowing fewer opportunities than I had anticipated.  But this practice has been wonderful for me and I will keep up with it as I am able.  

If you are creating alongside me, use the hashtag #lentenartjourney14 on Instagram so we can share together.

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