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Schwitters Again (Still)

Mixed Media on Cardstock 8 1/2” x 11”

“Lemon Ginger Tea” DS

The Tate Britain had an exhibition of Kurt Schwitter’s work in January 2013. I saved the “Arts and Ideas – BBC Radio 3 – R3 Arts: Night Waves” podcast to listen again to the interview between host Martin Sweet and the art critic Charlotte Mullins. They are recorded as saying he was one of the great figures of European Dadaism. About Kurt Schwitters work, they celebrated that it was: “extravagantly impure embracing all conceivable materials: bus tickets, boxes of licorice allsorts, cotton wool… He called his creations: “merz”.

As a collagist myself, I naturally work ‘after Schwitters’. It is my heart style. I save and glue anything from my life. Again and again I come back to reading about his methods. His room of ‘merz’ amazes and inspires me. (Imagine a room that becomes smaller from the sides and ceiling as he adds architectural found pieces of wood in white.) I enjoy shape and pattern. I find both in Schwitters’ collages.

The work is intuitive and organic. It flows naturally from life. It becomes cultural artifact witnessing everyday lifestyle and a new kind of legacy documenting the intimacy of the personal for the family. It is non-hierarchical and so easily accessible as a practice for rich and poor of any age or culture.

I consider what I will collage in the studio today – some black and white wrapping paper from a generous Korean friend, a parking receipt with blue, and some emerald green foil from my favourite chewing gum. This I may top off with a hot pink sticky note. The possibilities are endless. Made in the image of God, we too create not ex nihilo but out of the givens of the daily detritus of our lives – reminiscent of the leftovers from the feeding of the five thousand. In the workshops I pass this on. In feeding others, I am fed. DS.

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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 210 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Easter Ponderings

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“Easter Collage” 2014 DS

In the middle of Easter week and all of its sunshine colours, bunnies, flowers, egg hunts and spring rain, I remember that we as believers suffer like him and also have abundant life because of Jesus’ resurrection.  He is alive and will come again to renew heaven and earth.  We have a good future and each person is invited to share it.

New International Version Isaiah 53:5                                                                                
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Romans 4:25
He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

1 Corinthians 15:3
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,

Hebrews 5:8
Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered

Hebrews 9:28
so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

1 Peter 2:24
“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

1 Peter 2:25
For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Deuteronomy 11:2
Remember today that your children were not the ones who saw and experienced the discipline of the LORD your God: his majesty, his mighty hand, his outstretched arm;

Psalm 30:2
LORD my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.

 

Spirit of the Triune God

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 “Shamrock” Photoconceptual art 2014, DS

The three-leafed shamrock is the symbol of the Trinity for Celts.  In Celtic Christianity, both art and spirituality were used seamlessly as they went about their work.  One finds that the people made a point of acknowledging visual reminders of God in their daily lives.  As I enjoy this new shamrock plant I too am reminded to contemplate God daily, especially in remembrance of St. Patrick.  These are my thoughts today:

The Spirit’s main task is to bring salvation to sinful humankind (Grenz, 357).  He has been at work as one of the three persons of the one God since before time began.  He brooded over the waters in Genesis 1 in his role as Creator along with the Father and the Son.

There are numerous proofs of his deity in the Old Testament but it is not quite as clear how he is a full person as the Father and the Son are.  We trust that he is because of his work in the creating and sustaining the world as being that of God.  He is both similar to and different from the Son (Ibid, 371).

He is the relationship of the love between the Father and the Son.  He is the power behind Jesus’ ministry as shown at his birth, the beginning of his ministry and his resurrection.  When Jesus went back to heaven he left the Spirit to remind believers of what Jesus had taught them.  He filled the disciples with his power at Pentecost to bring about the new community of God on earth.  By his love and power he sustains them as they become witnesses for Jesus and build the kingdom of God.  The Holy Spirit brings about the new creation of the earth and heaven (Ibid, 377).  In the meantime he gives the ones who live for Christ a foretaste of things to come when he establishes God’s full rule in the world.  He is the One responsible for “engendering love for God” (Wilken, 287) and drawing humankind to God to find true happiness (Ibid, 273).

Theology for the Community of God, Stanley J. Grenz

The Spirit of Early Christian Thought, Robert Louis Wilken

A Year of Explorations

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
T. S. Eliot

As I continue with reading “Sacred Pathways” by Gary Thomas I feel inspired to put some of his ideas into practice this year. One thing I realized as I read about the practice of an ascetic surprised me. I had not considered myself as being an ascetic, yet when I read the words: “In a crowd or at a party, sometimes I try to ‘sneak in’ a few moments of solitude… All I know that it is in those solitary moments that colors regain their brightness, truth regains its clarity, and reality loses its fog”, I see years of my own behavior come into focus.

Waterfront, Seattle WA

Waterfront, Seattle WA


“Arrival, Waterfront, Seattle WA” 2013 DS

Case in point is my recent trip to Seattle by train. I had wanted to make the trip for several years to visit the Seattle Art Museum
and the Chihuly Glass Museum

Finally last September it seemed like the right time. I had also felt a longing to take a train ride. I put the two together and off I went alone on an adventure. The things I saw and experienced there will fill my mind and heart all winter and hopefully give energy to the preparations for my contemplation and creativity workshops. When I returned from the trip of exploration a new depth of knowledge about art, the city, God and myself returned to Vancouver with me.

Sometimes it is difficult to separate the outer and the inner life. Yet when I study and reap the benefits of knowledge about God and God’s ways a little action can turn the learning into real growth as a person and in my lived relationship with God and others. The way we live our lives affects those around us. I read again in “Sacred Pathways: “Each Christian life of prayer…however deeply hidden or apparently solitary in form, will affect the life of the whole Body.” It might just be that one of the ‘Sacred Pathways’ for me is to be a modern day ascetic. I find this invitation exciting: “Let her find in the busy city the desert of the monks.”

New Year Blooming Amaryllis

 

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“New Year Blooming Amaryllis” 2014, photocollage, DS

This amaryllis is a symbol of all that is good about a fresh year starting.  However, I was having guests and was disappointed the plant did not bloom by Christmas.  Instead it broke forth today.

I was reminded of our own growth in Christ.  As I put the Christmas decorations away this week, Jesus, Emmanuel, is still with us.  He is resurrected.

A woman in one of my workshops before Christmas said with passion that Easter should be celebrated by everyone as more important than that of Christmas. The comment took me by surprise.  I gave her a hurried reply but pondered her words later.  I rushed to give her an answer where there was no need.  Her struggle with theological questions is a sign of her being in an environment conducive to wholeness.  She has made a choice that will give her life.  In her way, she sits at the feet of Jesus.  I had not recognized this before.

Gary Thomas in his book “Sacred Pathways: Discover Your Soul’s Path to God” writes refreshingly about the journey of the soul being the cultivation of our unique relationship with God.  We need to learn how to renew our spirituality when it has grown lukewarm or dormant.

 Rather than another discipline to add to our new year it might be fun to explore the “Nine Sacred Pathways” explained by Thomas: “[God] created you with a certain personality and a certain temperament.”  Just as the biblical Martha and Mary expressed their devotion to Jesus in different ways, we each have unique ways to contribute to the Body of Christ.

The flower bulb looked mundane yet it had its own way and it’s own timing to bloom.  It was not going to look like a gorgeous poinsettia with red leaf-like flowers, or a Christmas cactus decked out in hot pink.  It would be a spectacular salmon pink and white amaryllis showing as a surprise gift on this first day of a new year in our journey with God.

Whether we are extroverts or introverts, orderly or spontaneous, intellectuals or worship best with our 5 senses or imagination, we can find exciting ways to relate to God.  Here are some ideas from Thomas:

–       Pray to God beside a river

–       Worship with the senses: incense, intricate architecture, classical music

–       Study historical writings of Christians in earlier centuries

–       Spend time at a silent retreat center with pastors and artists

–       Work for societal change

–       Love your neighbor in some practical way

–       Show enthusiasm for your journey with God

–       In stillness, listen to God’s voice

–       Engage in theological discussions

Years of Colours 2013 DS – an end of the year Postmodern Poem

 

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Years of Colours Photopoem 2013 DS

Down the long years

Of Christian travail

Love and fear

Mingled, mangled

Days of sorrow tears

Blue and silver

Dripped through

Veils of nights

Mornings of new

Hope-risen avenues

Of prayers breathed

To function

To succeed

To proceed up

To the light

Of living

In health and well-being

 

Years of colours

Of favours

Of tapered dreams and

Fostered acts

Of contrition

Of confession

Of conviction

To walk

In streets goldened

In rivers stilled

In paths

Righteous straight

Yet zigzagged

Of flowers strewn

Of calls answered

Of blessing

Come down

To cover with

Feathers of life

 

Now the years turn

Although each is new

This desires heartened

Pressed down and shaken

Caught my fall

Plateaued by love

Standing in awe

Looking in green

Pastures beside

Children that play

In my presence

The richness of

Walking un-alone

Shone through

Labour loved and lost

Seeded dead mid-winter

Sprouts are dotted

In cold snow

Memories of sun

Glow and warm

Thoughts of you

Both now and forever

Amen.