Everyday through December 25th, I’ll be making a 5×5 inch collage, writing a short entry on this blog and sharing a prompt for those who might want to participate along with me. You can follow my progress by subscribing to this blog through the sidebar on the blog homepage, or by following me on Instagram.
December 3, the first Sunday in Advent. The beginning of the liturgical year, a chance to start anew. I am reading a number of books to guide my collage and writing practice during this season of anticipation, including Watch for the Light: Reflections for Advent and Christmas and Sacred Space for Advent and the Christmas Season. The latter is from The Irish Jesuits. I knew this book was perfect for me when I read the line, “Most people can enter more fully into prayer if they take a little time to become more still.” Both weave writings from the Gospels with writing from noted theologians and other writers. Both begin readings centered on being ready, like these words from Mark 13:33 Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.
My friend Suzi Banks Baum recently spoke to my students about her amazing project New Illuminations, shared her sketchbook/journals, a poem and a making practice. New Illuminations takes Suzi to Armenia where in October she led two workshops that enable women artists to join the centuries old Armenian lineage of manuscript making, previously made only by men. This trip builds on two previous trips, and are motivated by her “curiosity about the real lives women artists live there. Not the airbrushed beauty portrayed in magazines, not the highly manicured visage of women seen in popular culture.”
Suzi began our class together with a poem by American-born poet of Palestinian descent Naomi Shihab Nye.
a calm musical note arrives.
You balance it on your tongue,
a single ripe grape,
till your whole body glistens.
In the space between breaths
you apply it to any wound
and the wound heals.
Soon the nights will lengthen,
you will lean into the year
humming like a saw.
You will fill the lamps with kerosene,
knowing somewhere a line breaks,
a city goes black,
people dig for candles in the bottom drawer.
You will be ready. You will use the song like a match.
It will fill your rooms
opening rooms of its own
so you sing, I did not know
my house was this large.
The Song, Mark 13 and an essay by Christoph Fredrich Blumhardt mix and mingle in my head into the questions How am I ready for the revolution? Do I have my tools at hand? What shoes will best support me through the work? Where is that apron of mine?
I ask you, what are the literal and metaphorical manifestations of these questions, and how do will you answer them as you move into this new year of light and love.