Right Relationships

Half way through Lent and we find ourselves praying for more cleansing and more purity in our relationship with Jesus. Purity in the time and setting of Jesus meant ordered ness. It meant having right relationships with God and thereby with all others and all of creation. We are freed through our faith in Jesus and his resurrection, but we are not freed from our own self-imposed exiles. Israel was loved always by God, but they did not always use well the freedom which that love provided. We can grow quite accustomed and flippant with our being loved through Jesus, taking it for granted rather than as granted through the Spirit.

These days of Lent we can go, Nicodemus-like, in the secrecy of our private prayer, to celebrate more publicly, the death and resurrection which infinitely consummates God’s love for us. We can pray with the realization of our little exiles, our secret ways of avoiding our living faithfully God’s calls and invitations. Lent is a prayerful time to rake away the coverings of deadly winter so that Jesus’ personal love can rise, spring-like in our spirits and actions. By Larry Gillick, S.J., in Daily Reflection, Creighton University. Read it all HERE.

Seen above: "Face of Christ" by Mary Jane Miller
. The artist says that this is a copy of Rublevs Icon, of which legends say it was found as a stair-riser to the choir loft in a small church. It had been turned upside down and used for wood, and because of that the image was preserved.

The Dark Deep Within

We are but shadows
cast by divine love.

Missing that luminous dimension,
we stare into the dark deep within
and long for light.

Words and Image by
Diane Walker.

Jesus Falls The First Time

"The weight is unbearable. Jesus falls under it. How could he enter our lives completely without surrendering to the crushing weight of the life of so many on this earth! He lies on the ground and knows the experience of weakness beneath unfair burdens. He feels the powerlessness of wondering if he will ever be able to continue. He is pulled up and made to continue." From The Stations of the Cross at Creighton University (online).

Seen above: Station 3 from the Stations of the Cross series by
John Giuliani.

The World Of Relationship

"This world is the world of relationship, of I and Thou, self and other. It is a world dependent on balance, interdependence, and harmony. If you focus only on yourself, you treat the world as an It, a means toward your own ends; and in so doing you isolate yourself from others and exile yourself from the world." From Ethics of the Sages: Pirke Avot, translated by Rabbi Rami Shapiro

Seen above: Bronze Sculpture (Small Fountain) by Connie Butler

"My Whole Life Has Been Dreams"

The Minnie Evans Sculpture Garden and Bottle Chapel
by Dan Hardison

Bright colors, mythical animals, religious symbols, and a natural garden setting – words that could describe the artwork of visionary folk artist Minnie Evans. It can also describe the Minnie Evans Sculpture Garden and Bottle Chapel, a memorial installation at Airlie Gardens in Wilmington, North Carolina.


Minnie Evans was a self-taught African-American artist known for her works depicting a world based on her dreams and visions. Born in 1892, her family moved to Wilmington from Pender County, North Carolina, during her early childhood. Evans left school after the sixth grade to work, married at the age of sixteen, and would raise three sons.

“My whole life has been dreams. Some times day visions,” Evans said, “They would take advantage of me. No one taught me to paint. It came to me.” It was on Good Friday 1935 that Evans said she heard God’s voice tell her to draw. She began creating drawings with wax crayons and colored pencils – later using oil paints as well. Her work was filled with vivid plants, animals, piercing eyes representing the all-seeing eye of God, angels, and demons. A member of the AME Church, her work was filled with religious symbolism. Of her work she said, “This art that I have put out has come from the nations I suppose might have been destroyed before the flood… No one knows anything about them, but God has given it to me to bring them back into the world.”

For twenty-five years from 1949 to 1974, Evans worked as the gatekeeper at Airlie Gardens in Wilmington. This setting undoubtedly influenced the plants and flowers incorporated in her art. Sitting in her little wooden gatehouse collecting admissions, she would often work on her drawings during slow periods.

Evans never aspired to be an artist nor sell her artwork. It was not until 1960 that an out-of-state art scholar visiting the gardens discovered what Newsweek magazine would later describe as “breathtakingly gifted”. Her first art exhibit was held in 1961. Evans died in 1987 at the age of 95 and is today considered one of America’s most important visionary artists.

A Historic Garden

Airlie Gardens began as a private garden for a wealthy industrialist in 1901. German landscape architect Rudolf Topel was commissioned in 1906 to transform the stretch of land along salt marshes into a formal garden incorporating European and Southern garden styles with an emphasis on azaleas and camellias. The gardens were opened to the public in 1948, but remained in private ownership until its purchase by New Hanover County in 1999. Today Airlie Gardens consists of 67 acres of the original 155-acre estate. Among the time worn trees draped in Spanish moss you will find walking trails, themed gardens, 10 acres of freshwater lakes, and a 450 year-old live oak.

A Memorial

In August 2004, the Minnie Evans Sculpture Garden and Bottle Chapel was dedicated in honor of Minnie Evans. The centerpiece is a bottle house conceived and created by local artist Virginia Wright-Frierson. Primarily a painter and illustrator, Frierson was commissioned in 2000 to paint a large ceiling mural for Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, as a memorial for the tragic shooting that occurred there.

The bottle house was constructed as a 16-foot high roofless outdoor chapel built out of bottles of various sizes, shapes, and color. The bottles were arranged to create images and symbols found in the work of Minnie Evans.

Just inside the entrance to the sculpture garden, a bas-relief sculpture featuring Minnie Evans in the window of her gatehouse was created by Hiroshi Sueyoshi. Two angel sculptures by Dumay Gorham sits to either side of the Bottle Chapel. At the center of the Bottle Chapel is a copper tree by Karen Crouch filled with metal birds created by Michael Van Hout. Brooks Koff, assisted by local schoolchildren, created mosaic tiles used in the walls and walks surrounding the Bottle Chapel. There is also a fountain created by Sueyoshi featuring images from Minnie Evans’ paintings just outside the Bottle Chapel.

Minnie Evans never thought of her work as art, yet her work has been shown internationally including the Whitney Museum of American Art and is today in numerous collections including the Smithsonian Museum of American Art. Her life and work has also been captured in a book and a documentary film.

The Minnie Evans Sculpture Garden and Bottle Chapel pays tribute to a woman who merely followed the command given her – to draw. “I have dreams of the thing,” she said, “and I feel God gave me this mission to do this.”

View additional photographs of the Bottle Chapel

View artwork by Minnie Evans at Smithsonian American Art Museum

View artwork by Minnie Evans at North Carolina Museum of Art

Words and Image by Dan Hardison

Melodies Eternally New

Thou hast made me endless, such is thy pleasure. This frail
vessel thou emptiest again and again,
and fillest it ever with fresh life.

This little flute of a reed thou hast carried over hills and dales,
and hast breathed through it melodies eternally new.

At the immortal touch of thy hands my little heart loses its limits in
joy and gives birth to utterance ineffable.

Thy infinite gifts come to me only on these very small hands of mine.
Ages pass, and still thou pourest, and still there is room to fill.

ECVA "Gifts" Exhibition

ECVA's latest exhibition is now online. Titled "Gifts," it is ECVA's first open-studio exhibition and features great diversity. Take time to visit HERE.

Seen above: Annunication 1, by Laura Fisher Smith.

That Promise Of Blessing

It keeps us going --
this time of year,
when winter resists the pull to spring
and daffodils shiver in the cold --

Thoughts of the harvest:
that promise of blessing
that follows each pruning;
the vine and the branches
exploding in color:
in leaves, and in tendrils,
and rich, lush fruit.

Blunt cut,
we cling to the vineand await the slow ripening.

Words and Image by Diane Walker

From The Liquid World Of Dreams

does the poet—
the poem—
have an obligation to speak
literal truth?

or can it weave its
words poetic
to grasp the deeper meaning
out of simple, imagined

when you ask
“did this really happen?”
or “who is this dappling
your poem?”
i must answer
with staunch certainty
from the liquid world of dreams,
“it is true! it is all true!”

Words by Sr. Ellen Porter, OSB, author
Some Small Flower of Honesty

Image: "Symphony" by
Roger Hutchison


Where the mind is without fear
and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into
ever-widening thought and action-
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father,
let my country awake.

Words by Rabindranath Tagore

Image: Transfiguration by Moses Hoskins

Lent Feels Dark

“In a dark time,” Theodore Roethke wrote, “the eye begins to see.” The dark times in life are not our enemy. Dark times empty the world of the things that would otherwise distract us from seeing the important things. Lent feels dark. Enter the darkness with confidence.

Words by Joan Chittister

Image by Leah Reddy

Stitched Together

Who makes
this comforter of stars?

Who stitched together
the firmament of heaven,
first weaving rainbows into
fabric of the night,
then, torn and spun into patterns,
carefully refabricates,
backing with a cushion of light,
tying it all together with silver threads
to drip the morning dew
and tucks it in around us?

Who tiptoes from the room
leaving the door
open just a crack
in case we should awaken;
Who leaves this thin gold beam of light
to reassure us in the dark?

Words and Image by Diane Walker.


beneath the surface
dances the light of the moon
God breathing new life

Words and Image by Roger Hutchison

When To Begin

How do I know when to begin?
When a force is kindled in my heart.

When do I stop work?
When there is a quiet sense of completion.

Words and Image by Connie Butler.
Seen above: "Threshold," painted plaster sculpure.


The Art Blog at Episcopal Cafe

Lament: The Stations and other Images of the Cross:
A Lenten Exhibition of Woodcut Prints
Margaret Adams Parker.

Read an introduction to this exhibit

Seen above: "to have seen what I have seen" by Margaret Adams Parker, 2006, woodcut over collagraph with Solarplate etchings, 23 x 17 inches. This print is based on the experiences of the artist’s son during his medical school rotation in the psychiatry ward in a VA hospital. Most of his patients were Vietnam veterans, although a few had served in Iraq; however, their common problem was their inability to block out their memories of war.

The title is taken from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It is a fragment of Ophelia’s lament as she observes Hamlet’s feigned madness: “O, what a noble mind is here o’erthrown…O woe is me/ to have seen what I have seen…” Ironically, while Hamlet is sane, Ophelia herself goes mad.

A Garden Retreat

Quiet safety can be found in the garden retreat of my mind. The garden retreat is that mystical place of untroubled silence, my Sanctuary within. It is the Holy Space where I come to enjoy the cool breeze of the morning, listen to the birds sing their song of greeting. It is my Sheltered Place where I can look up at the rolling clouds and speak to my God with peace.

During that time, I can plant flowers in my garden: the sweet P's of patience, pardon, peace, persistence, piety, poetry, poise, praise, practice, prayer, and psalms. I can smell the sweet fragrance of the thornless roses. I can watch the lilies of the field and the grass without fear of tomorrow's burning drought. I can experience the growth of my soul with wondrous awe and know the true fruit of the spirit will be ready in its time.

This Art

"In your light I learn how to love.
In your beauty, how to make poems.
You dance inside my chest where no one sees you,
But sometimes I do, and that sight becomes this art."

Words by Jalal al-Din Rumi

Image by Virginia Wieringa

Lent Felt Different After That

by Robert Epley

I enrolled in a photography class because I didn’t have my own darkroom in our new apartment. With this class there was, of course, a term project. I chose to photograph an abandoned cemetery located in Engle, NM.

Engle had been a thriving community in the early 1900’s when it was a railroad stop for local cattle ranchers. The community is gone and now, only a few buildings remain. The long-abandoned cemetery shows the ravages of time and the natural elements.

When at last I had the pictures that would fulfill the project requirements, I spent some time really seeing what I had been so busy photographing. Several rock mounds didn’t have any markers. Others with metal markers had no discernable information. A few graves had protective fences around them; however, most of these were broken down. Wooden crosses alone marked several graves. Two or three of the headstones had obvious spelling and dyslexic problems. One grave was surrounded by an expensive iron fence that had been shipped in from Ohio.

I spent quite some time at a weed-covered mound of rocks with a wooden crucifix. Several times in the years after doing this project I felt drawn back to this image. I wasn’t sure why until recently, when it suddenly fit together with, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Always before this I had understood that death and decay were natural processes. It had even begun to be clear that eventually this would happen to my body. But what thundered in on me as I kept looking at this weedy mound of rocks and weathered cross was not death and the decay of my body.

I have fond memories and a sense of meaning from my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. I even have a few material objects that are touchstones for these memories. But of these ancestors as it will be for me, it is only the memories and feelings, the human connections, which will endure. Who these people were for me comes from who their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents were for them. And so it will be for our children and grandchildren. The affect we have on family, friends and others is all in this life that will endure and have lasting value.

What made the Engle cemetery different than any of the other cemeteries I have visited? A community cemetery is close to the place where people live, work and play. Family and friends of the deceased have their own lives to lead and in due time they carry on. Daily life continues.

The Engle cemetery is different because it doesn’t have a well kept lawn, busy streets, and a bustling community. And while there isn’t a grave mound or marker for it, Engle itself and its way of life is gone. A way of life with people raising families, working together, and helping each other has ceased to be. The community context for lives is gone. While people died and were buried in the Engle cemetery, so also their community and its way of life died.

Sitting there in the Engle cemetery I became very aware that when I die everything I am doing with family and friends here and now will stop. I won’t be doing these things anymore. The Engle cemetery helped me see more clearly that I will leave behind everything that I am doing in this life. It’s hard to keep this in mind amidst the needs and presses of daily life. This is why I turn to this image for Lenten meditations. It helps me work on keeping all that I do in perspective.

While writing about this image and describing the cemetery, several graves with badly weathered wooden crosses came to mind. For each one, the cross that had been a grave marker is now a simple crucifix. No clues are given about the life of the person whose remains were buried there; except to say that they were given a decent burial. The wooden grave marker as it was changed into a simple crucifix has become an eloquent statement about life after death. As a life ends there is also a new beginning.

Image and Words by Robert Epley, all rights reserved.

This Living Water

by Diane Walker

Drink up, my friend —
This living water's given for all who grieve.

Words & Image by Diane Walker, all rights reserved.

An Invitation To Renewal

The Art Blog at Episcopal Cafe

"The season of Lent is a time for renewal of our spiritual lives. Consider making a pilgrimage to Trinity Cathedral and experience the beauty and power of this sacred art form. Twenty-three exquisite icons will be on view in Synod Hall between now and the first week of Easter." Read it all HERE.