In Shalom, II

Guest Commentary by Barbara L. Desrosiers"

Send Thy peace, O Lord,
which is perfect and everlasting,
that our souls may radiate peace."
(Sufi Prayer for Peace)
C. Robin Janning’s "In Shalom" (seen above) came to me quietly, like a foggy memory. I recognized the feeling, but wasn’t sure why. Then it struck me: it is holy graffiti, left hidden on the walls of my heart while I was embroiled in life’s turmoils. The surface pulses with the power of diluted blood, signs of a weary heart. The colors are warm, but sad, as if one has tried in vain to wash away the blood stains of a pain-filled life. The etchings of dark scar the surface in an ancient way, saying "look, you can’t erase the past." It is the cement wall of my stubbornness dripping with God’s gentle touch. The scarring of pain merges beautifully with the emergence of a new, triune hope.

That hope emerges as flowers, arising from beneath the surface. They bring with them the promise of "shalom." This shalom is much more than the simple translation of "peace" we generally use in the English language. It is a deep, multi-dimensional term with an intense history. It is a completeness, a secure peace, a victory over discord.

Partners in Urban Transformation put it thusly, ". . .at its fullest, shalom captures the Hebrew vision of human society, the non-human world and even the environment in an integrated and relational whole where ‘the wolf and the lamb shall feed together and the lion shall eat straw like the ox’(Isa. 65:25)."

"In Shalom" aims to do just that, to speak of a unified world, one of forgiveness and gentleness. It is a quiet painting with a powerful duty. In Shalom radiates peace: peace for the individual, peace for the whole world. Robin’s painting lingers in one’s psyche, a mark of holiness, calling one back to the desert for renewed baptism in its quiet presence.

Editors Note: You can see Barbara L. Desrosiers' art at
Turtle Spirit Studio. Her art and her words have been featured at Episcopal Cafe and in the ECVA Exhibition Art and Faith, A Spiritual Journey.

As seen above: "In Shalom" by C. Robin Janning

Taking Joy In God's Creation

Prayer For Joy in God's Creation

O heavenly Father, who hast filled the world with beauty:
Open our eyes to behold thy gracious hand in all thy works;
that, rejoicing in thy whole creation, we may learn to serve
thee with gladness; for the sake of him through whom all
things were made, thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

From The Book of Common Prayer,
Prayers and Thanksgivings, Page 814

Photo taken at Chewacla State Park,
near Auburn, Alabama, by Jan Neal

We Become

Image and words by C. Robin Janning

All My Fresh Springs

The singers and the dancers will say,
"All my fresh springs are in you." Psalm 87:6

Sometimes my soul feels parched. I crave some sort of nourishment or surely I, and my art, shall faint. It’s a lonely feeling; there’s nothing you can point to and say "this hurts." I see myself crawling across the desert, stalked by vultures who take their strength from any bit of weakness I show. My eyes search each crevasse, each shadow, for predators, and because I am alert and aware I see them.

Is that the cornerstone of our life, our work, searching out predators?

As human beings, we have been blessed with memory, imagination, and soul. We see the predators, yes, but we also remember that light from which we sprang; we imagine what we cannot know; and we own our soul for eternity. This allows us to lift our eyes from the shadow and the crevasse so that we can see beyond the moment’s parched ground to an abundance of grace.

As artists, perhaps this is our mission: search out the vistas and portals, hear the heavenly voices, and see the light to which we are all related. We must be, we must point to, "the fresh springs."

The Psalm reference above was sent to me by
Dorothy Ralph Gager, whose art is currently showing on the Art Blog at Episcopal Cafe. She wrote to me: "Fresh Springs, that’s our challenge."

Image and words by C. Robin Janning

Independence Day

Nasturtiums are the symbol of conquest, victory in battle and patriotism, so during this week of Independence Day it is fitting to share with you a painting of a nasturtium by my friend, Brie Dodson.

Independence Day is designated as an "Other Major Feast" in the Book of Common Prayer. The collect for July 4 is found on page 190 of the BCP:

Lord God Almighty, to whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us, and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn: Grant, we beseech thee, that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain these liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, on God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even though most of us will not be in church on the 4th, may we nonetheless turn to page 190 and collectively offer up our gratitude for the liberties we cherish as Americans.

More of Brie's work may be seen at her web site,
Hunt Country Paintings.

Spectacularly Ordinary

The altar flowers at my church last Sunday were perfect for the Season After Pentecost. Ordinary flowers from an ordinary garden that has struggled through a summer of drought put together by two ordinary church members who long to find God in the beauty of the gifts of Summer. The muted blues and greens blended with the green hangings to make an image of unity and a fullness of time. No violet, white or red of high feasts adorn the altar at this time, rather the subtle colors of the good earth, richer and more quietly vibrant with the passing of time. Is there not a lesson for us to learn in our Christian journey from the flowers of Summer?

Photograph of altar flowers taken at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Opelika, Alabama, by Jan Neal.