If you look around and see the beauty of Christmas and hear the joy of children in the season, look a little deeper. The very thing that causes the beauty might also be bending some to the breaking point. Bend low with them, and help them up.
'For lo! the days are hastening on, by prophet seen of old, when with the ever-circling years shall come the time foretold when peace shall over all the earth its ancient splendors fling, and the whole world send back the song which now the angels sing.' Amen." by Rev. Anne Robertson, read it all HERE.
Seen above: "There Came A Light" by C. Robin Janning
Yet underneath our civilized response to the season, we may sense our human roots. We may look at the dark velvet dome of the night sky laced with stars, and wonder. It is a season that mysteriously brings together death and birth—death of the old season, the old year, the growth from last summer's garden; birth of the new light after December 21, the Winter Solstice, and birth of the community that is formed as we turn inward with the season. It is the season when Christianity celebrates the birth of Jesus, also called Immanuel or God-with-us." By The Rev. Mary C. Earle in "A Celtic Christmas: Celebrating the Sacred in All Creation."
Seen Above: Advent Starry Night #2 (2006), by Virginia Wieringa
Seen above: "The Advent Bishop" by The Rev. Wilfredo Benitez-Rivera, Rector of St. Anselm of Canterbury Episcopal (Anglican) Church, in Garden Grove, California.
On View: Tracings of Eternal Light (Cross) by John Sager; Assemblage (Broken auto glass, cookie cutter, glass, frame) Date/Size: 13" x 9" x 4.75" (2005)
Seen above: Bi - The Chinese Ideogram for Beauty, Detail
Read more here. Hat tip: Episcopal Cafe.
Image and Words by Kathrin Burleson
Seen Above: Advent (watercolor, 12 x 6 inches, October 2008)
Take time to visit her at Contemplative Photographer and enrich your journey of Advent.
Image: Photography by A. R. Pinkus, composition by C. Robin Janning.
I am, O Anxious One. Don't you hear my voice
surging forth with all my earthly feelings?
They yearn so high, that they have sprouted wings
and whitely fly in circles round your face.
My soul, dressed in silence, rises up
and stands alone before you: can't you see?
don't you know that my prayer is growing ripe
upon your vision as upon a tree?
If you are the dreamer, I am what you dream.
But when you want to wake, I am your wish,
and I grow strong with all magnificence
and turn myself into a star's vast silence
above the strange and distant city, Time.
The image of creative love indwells each human heart.
The Maker calls creation good, so let us now express
with sound and color, stone and wood,
the shape of holiness.
Let weavers form from broken strands a tapestry of prayer.
Let artists paint with skillful hands their joy in lament and care,
Then mime the story: Christ has come.
With reverence dance the Word.
With flute and organ, chime and drum,
God’s praise be ever heard.
O Spirit, breathe among us here, inspire the work we do.
May hands and voices, eye and ear attest to life made new.
In worship and in daily strife create among us still.
Great Artist form our common life
according to Your will.
Photograph by Diane Walker
Words from the Gather Hymnbook (#685):
Title: Moved by the Gospel, Let Us Move
Author: Ruth Duck, 1947-
© 1992, GIA Publications, Inc.
Harmonizer: Ralph Vaughan Williams, 1872-1958
As Advent approaches and we await the coming of "The Light of the World" I find myself longing to grasp the gift of grace - to have it embrace me and to effusively share it with others. I see glimpses of grace from time to time, but, as Christians, should we not consistently experience grace? Surely that was what the creator intended and what our faith teaches us. Is this not what Christ gave to us? It is, again, what our faith teaches us through the sacraments: "The outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive that grace." (BCP p. 857)
Perhaps when we find it difficult to see grace in our selves or others, we receive the gift through God’s creation. I can always find grace in nature. Is the beauty we receive through nature the "on ramp" to receiving and seeing grace in each other? I am not sure of the answer, but to borrow the lyrics of Justin Kensrue:
So this Advent I shall pray that as we await his coming, we shall all be blessed to celebrate grace in ourselves and each other.
by Rabbi Albert M. Lewis
What if God were to speak to us now; to give us a fresh look at what's real, true, and the core of our world? Might God say, "Be just, be kind, care, share, give, take, love, laugh, cry, feel the pain, and dance in the time of joy"? And what would we hear? Would it be what we want to hear, or what was said? Could we each hear in our own way? Must we all be of the same mind? Must the one who hears at twelve feet fight with the one who hears at twelve yards? Will the black one and the white one and the child of the land all know God in the same way? And if not, will they then fight?
What if God said, "I grant you a gift: a world full of peace, health, and food for all. I give you a time, now, when each may sit by his vine and by her fig tree and none will cause you fear"? Would we heed the words? If God came to each of us in a dream, would we hold the dream in our hearts and souls, or would we cast it off as just a dream? What would it take to look deep with in, where we live and know truth, and there to find the one God, who cries for us and waits and hopes and says, "I am here. Do not fear. Live, love, talk, and walk hand in hand with me. Let no child learn war anymore, but let each bring what is right and just in his home and in her land!"-
(Rabbi Lewis has written this reflection using only one-syllable words. It is an old discipline, intended to be simple but not simplistic.)
RABBI ALBERT M. LEWIS is the Director of the Emeritus College at Aquinas, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and a weekly columnist for The Grand Rapids Press
Seen above: Contemplating Vincent by artist Barbara Desrosiers
All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light.
- Psalm 36:7-9
Seen above: photograph by The Rev. Scott Fisher, St. Matthews, Fairbanks
Ellen Wiener is an artist whose work invites the viewer to an intimate participation in things already known. She also tucks into each page the promise of things to be discovered. Much like worship, her small works are often segmented into portions, with an organically rhythmic organization that shepherds the viewer into quiet reflection. Read more HERE.
On View: Three Logics by Ellen Wiener. Oil on three panels, 9" x 36", 2003. From An Album of Hours by Ellen Wiener. See her book, The Still Small Hours, 2007, HERE.
surrounding us, and throwing off everything
that hinders us and especially the sin
that so easily entangles us, let us
keep running with endurance
the race set before us,"
(International Standard Version ©2008)
St. Matthews, Fairbanks.
Nowhere in this song do we hear the name of her child, but somehow he is there in every phrase. Mary's song is not hers alone; it is the song of the child who wants to come, who comes to do the will of God. This song echoes in the events of her son's life, his death, and his exaltation. The song celebrates the God who keeps promises -- not only to Abraham, but also to us.
The Church has picked up this song and sung it often, particularly in daily evening worship. Mary's song, The Magnificat, is a central text in the liturgy of the historic Church. Who knows what number of settings musicians have composed for it through the years? Who knows how many voices have joined with Mary’s in singing her song through the centuries? From "The Song of Divine Triumph" by the Rev. Charles Hoffacker. Read it all HERE.
Image: "Magnificat" by Virginia Wieringa
This week, Mel Ahlborn offers visual prayer in the form of a Laura Fisher Smith icon. She says "Smith's icons of the homeless, such as the one seen above, proclaim what she values most, and bluntly reveal her concern for the marginalized, the sick and the needy. With a creative vision filled with both mercy and advocacy, she paints individual persons who are homeless with a dignity and grace once reserved for saints."
Followed by The Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation Prayer, the post lights up the heart.
"...Open our eyes to the structures of oppression from which we benefit, and give us courage to accept our responsibility, wisdom to chart a sound course amid complexity, and perseverance to continue our work until it is finished."
Read it all HERE
The texture of the wall of notes is very appealing, so I took several photographs, but there were so many tourists that it was hard to get the wall without them and without being jostled by them. None of the shots I got were particularly crisp, but this one seemed to be the best of the bunch. It's not very exciting -- there's no obvious center of interest -- but I like the texture, the color, and the light." Read more HERE.
Image and words by Diane Walker.
Seen above: "Pour Out The Heart" by C. Robin Janning
... I am called black, and listen to country music most of the time, jazz, and classical every now and then, have mixed relatives, went to mixed schools, live in a mixed neighborhood, eat pizza, tuna, tacos, turkey or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I believe in people, focused work, productive play and self honesty. I play no sports but favor cooperative exercises over competitive ones. I create art that sings hope, beauty, and the complications of simplicity."
Words and Image by Jerome Lawrence
Seen above: "Tulips are People VII"
by John Holliger
"All my life I have journeyed up the chanting river of life to find the Source. Such bliss of searching for that One who is just around the next boulder… and find that One already flowing freely within me. You in me and I in you." MORE>>
Seen above: Words and image by John Holliger
Seen above, "The Golden Hour" by Brie Dodson
Photograph by The Rev. Scott Fisher, St. Mattews, Fairbanks
Text by John O'Donohue in "To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings"
only one thing
not just measured line,
not just wild abandoned curve,
neither color, nor "no color."
we are assemblages of light and shadow
divine constructions built to remind
...the Lord is with/in us.
Image: "Untitled" by Moses Hoskins
painting and drawing media on canvas
54 x 80 inches
inspired by this quote:
“Do not follow the ideas of others, but learn to listen to the voice
Your body and mind will become clear and you will realize the unity
of all things.”
Dogen (1200 - 1253)
Being surrounded by strong, unyielding ideals, I have learned to
listen my voice within.
This "listening" has blossomed within me. This precious gift has
helped me become more aware of the awesome beauty and wisdom of God's
world. My heart sings.
and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.
Have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.
Receive encouragement when new frontiers beckon.
Respond to the call of your gift and the courage to follow its path."
Seen above: "Long Way Home" by Brie Dodson
We can say so much with a single image that dozens of words can only hope to accomplish. In the late 19th century, Ivan Turgenev (Russian author of Fathers and Sons) aptly wrote , "A picture shows me at a glance what it takes dozens of pages of a book to expound." In the west, we are more familiar with the proverb "A picture says a thousand words." Both phrases refer to the idea that complex stories can be described with just a single still image, or that an image may be more influential than a substantial amount of text. Read More>>
I remember vividly that one of the pleasures of childhood summers was to stay outside until the last rays of light were gone from the summer sky; playing badminton til you could no longer see the birdie, or playing hide and seek until no-one could be found at all and the dark became a lonely place.
We were reveling in the moment then, enjoying ourselves so much we barely noticed as the light slipped away. And I find now, as summer draws to a close and the light begins to fade earlier and earlier, that I am drawn as I was in childhood to sit up with the neighbors, watching from our back decks and talking quietly as the clouds begin to shimmer, then slide into darkness. READ MORE>>
As seen above, photograph by Diane Walker
The Rev. Manuel P. Faria III, Rector
By Kendyll Hillegas
This past fall my husband Eric and I worked with a group of young adults at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Beverly, Massachusetts. We had one main goal: to explore what it means to lead lives that matter. We hammered out this goal in several different ways, by working at the church's already-established Sunday night supper for the homeless, by getting involved collaboratively in another installation at a mental health unit at a local hospital, and by alternating our weeks of work with weeks of study and discussion. We found many common threads in each of these endeavors, but the common thread of incarnation, of Christ's being made human and coming to us as a baby at Advent was what we decided to focus on for the capstone of our group's time together that fall. Thus, as we began thinking and imagining what we might create in the nave, the installation became an opportunity for the tying together in an intellectual and physical way of the incarnation of Christ at Advent. More
Words by Phyllis Tickle in "The Indescribable Drama of Transfiguration"
Image: "Transfigured" by C. Robin Janning
"Who would not want to sit for twenty minutes in that restorative kindliness before a long work day begins, or after another hard one has ended?"
Words by The Rev. Barbara Crafton (The Almost Daily eMo from Geranium Farm.org)
I admit that I am a modern. A kneeling Rite IIer. But as a journalism major turned lawyer I have spent a lifetime trying to get clearly and concisely from point A to point B and have made a career out of eliminating legaleze (legal disease). To that end I am somewhat uncomfortable humbly beseeching and am downright offended at saying that I am not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. I don't mind if you like that language; I just don't. I admit that I have gotten myself in hot water with a number of Rite Iers who want me to observe the beauty of the language and learn some humility.
Still, Johnson's point is well taken. I think that we gloss over so much of our shadows at church, we have to honor our shadows elsewhere. I think that Sam Shoemaker, the Episcopal priest instrumental in the creation of AA said it best in What the Church has to Learn from Alcoholics Anonymous.
Johnson indicates that after the balancing effect of the Mass was eliminated "we rely on less effective ways of balancing today. Horror movies, gangster epics, violence, the fashion of something garish or shocking in our headlines, the popularity of murder mysteries - all of these compensate for our high productivity and creativity. But these are clumsy elements compared to the fine works of art of earlier cultures."
The photograph above honors the dark and oddly served to examine my shadow's fascination with this image of what looks like a monster - actually a cicada - perched on the head of the blessed Mother Mary statue who stands guard at the entrance of my garden. Read about the symbolism of the cicada, to include its Christian symbolism and enjoy the irony of this image captured by my shadow at The Sacred and the Profane.
"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 who all things were made, thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen"
From the Book of Common Prayer, page 814
Our vanished days secretly gather,
Receiving every glance, word, and act
That fall from presence,
Taking all our unfolding in,
So that nothing is lost or forgotten."
Words by John O'Donohue,in
To Bless the Space Between Us:
A Book of Blessings
Photograph by The Rev. Scott Fisher,
St. Matthew's, Fairbanks, Alaska
News from our friends at Integrity and Changing Attitude from Lambeth 2008. Thanks to Katie Sherrod for the following thoughts:
For one brief tiny second, I think there was a rainbow over the green field where the Integrity/Changing Attitude Eucharist took place this afternoon before a crowd of 160 people, including 33 bishops. The Canterbury Cathedral loomed dramatically over the trees beyond the altar.
It was a cool blustery mostly sunny afternoon interrupted occasionally by brief light showers of rain. As the second shower was passing, the sun came out, creating a rainbow just as I glanced up. I grabbed my photographer's arm, but it was gone before I could get words out.
Did I imagine it? Was it wishful thinking?
It seemed much too apt to be true, that tiny glimpse of color, so I'm assuming I imagined it. One often feels that way in the Anglican Communion – thinking one has glimpsed some hope only to find it was aan illusion.
But this afternoon, there was one genuine icon of hope for LGBT folks, and that was Bishop Gene Robinson, striding across the road from St. Stephens encircled by a small group of bishops come to stand in solidarity with him at the service....continued at Walking With Integrity blog.
Posted by Jan Neal; content by Katie Sherrod; image by Tracy Byrne
O Blessed Source, eternal Lord of creation,
sustainer of all worlds,
you embrace the whole cosmos within yourself,
for everything exists in you.
Let your winds come and breathe your everlasting Spirit in us.
Let us inhale your divine Spirit and be inspired.
Enlighten us in your truth.
Pour your grace into our hearts.
Wipe away our sin and all negativity.
Transform us into your Love,
and let us radiate that Love to all others.
Inflame us with your unending life.
Dissolve our limited way of being.
Elevate us into your divine Life.
Give us your capacity to share that Life with everyone.
Shape us in your wisdom.
Grant us your joy and laughter.
Let us become that divine wisdom, sensitivity,
laughter and joy for all beings.
Let us realize fully that we are members
of that Sacred Community
with all humankind, with other species,
with nature and the entire cosmos.
Grant us a heart that can
embrace them all in you.
Let us be in communion with you
forever in the bliss of that Love:
the Love that sustains all
and transforms all
into your Divine Radiance.
Quotation by Brother Wayne Teasdale
From Rabbi Rami Shapiro: Cultivating grace is a bit of a paradox. You cannot get what you always and already have. There is noting you can or need do to merit grace. All you need do is accept grace. The reason this is so difficult for us is that our hands are full. We are burdened by carrying the past and future around with us wherever we go, and have no room for the grace of the present moment. Cultivating grace means putting down the burden of time, and opening our hands to the timeless now.(Rabbi Rami Shapiro, The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness:Preparing to Practice; forward by Marcia Ford, SkyLight Paths Publishing, 2006)
When I write and think about art, I often use the words acceptance, vocation, grace, and now. Thomas Merton and Rabbi Shapiro are my teachers. What they teach me about art is transmitted from heart to heart; soul to soul. Be here, be now. Listen. Accept grace. Give it all back. Start again each morning... each moment.
Words and Image by C. Robin Janning
Streak across a distant
Out where evolving shapes and forms
Merge and sing in harmonic
Out where Earth and sky
Breathe as one with each
Out on that phantom edge
God paints a demonstration of
- Rejoice in God's infinite love! -
As seen above: Image and text © by Claudia Smith, All Rights Reserved.
Posted by C. Robin Janning