Tiles, fabric, handmade paper, metal pieces . . . to inspire children to contemplate God’s tenderness and power.
My new book will be released September 24, 2019, by Beaming Books. Picturing God is a milestone for me: the first book for which I’ve made the art as well as the text!
Of course there’s no way to create a faithful and complete visual representation of God. We have the stern “no graven image” commandment to protect us from that illusion. But the Bible is full of symbols and metaphors to help us picture and experience God in the depths of ourselves, via our imagination connected to our senses.
In my late twenties, a time of great pain and struggle, I began learning to access these biblical symbols in contemplative prayer and open myself to the healing they can bring—and I’m still learning. God as my Rock. God as an eagle sheltering her chicks under her wings. Jesus as my Shepherd. The Spirit as God’s cleansing breath, filling my lungs. Scriptures and prayers based on these symbols have drawn me into intimacy with God, into awe and wonder at the Love that holds me.
We human beings live by symbols. Strong, beautiful symbols stir us and change us.
Picturing God uses mosaic and collage—tiles, fabric, handmade paper, glass, metal pieces, twine, embroidery floss, paint, and other media—to inspire children and parents to contemplate God’s tenderness and power. Living Water, Bread of Life, Light of the World, Good Shepherd, Father and Mother: these and other biblically rooted metaphors are explored through art and poetic text. The book’s final page is a list of scriptures for each metaphor, so that families can look up and perhaps even memorize some of the related verses.
Making this book has been the most joyful work of my life! Every time I gathered materials and started laying them out on a canvas or square of plywood, I was drawn into a meditative awareness of God’s presence. I hope paging through the book will serve readers in a similar way. This winter I’m making final tweaks to the interior art—and eagerly looking forward to sharing the book far and wide in September!
Today a younger friend texted to tell me that he loves Los ángeles de Adriana. The other day he was reading it aloud to his family (all adults) & had to stop because he was beginning to cry.
He had come to the part where the sharp stones in Adriana’s heart fall out as she sleeps.
Someone who is beloved to my friend has some of those sharp stones inside, & he longs for them to fall out & lose their power, displaced by Love.
If mean words or other cutting thoughts & memories are rattling around in your own heart, may you know yourself loved fully, attentively, creatively. May the stones lose their sharp edges & their purchase. May you look up to discover that God’s world is beautiful & you belong in it.
At a park in Popayán, Colombia
I went walking in a forest preserve today–mostly along the North Branch trail following that branch of the Chicago River. The trail basically looks like this:
It’s a bike path, cleanly asphalted, & the trees are mostly at a distance. I was craving being IN the trees, but some of the smaller paths were really muddy.
Still, I found one veering off that was not quite so wet. Bliss.
I made the rounds of an open picnic area & picked up some trash to carry to a bin. As I dropped it in, I realized that tomorrow is Earth Day. Poor dear earth of ours. I saw a plastic bag caught in the brush & took it the rest of the way so I could pick up more trash.
I love milkweed.
On my way back to the parking lot, a boy & his mom were stopped on the bridge; as I passed the boy whispered, “Oh my gosh!” If he hadn’t, I might not have stopped & noticed the deer. They are the exact colors of the bark & brush in this delayed spring, so they’re kinda hard to see here.
Today’s excursion had been decided upon during last Wednesday’s session with my spiritual director. These guides, as you probably already know, don’t actually direct but just help us recognize the movement of our souls. Cook County forest preserves aren’t quite as wild as I could wish, but my soul needs their trees & wetlands & dried pods & mud & birds & deer. I am going to get to know them all, in every season.