by Laurie Gudim
A few friends of mine and I get together every week or so for contemplative art. Everyone brings her supplies, and we sit with one another in silence while we draw, write an icon, sew, play the harp, journal or meditate. We are still new at this, so we don’t have a whole lot to say about it yet – except that it seems to be drawing us into a deep communion with one another, our creative process and God.
It’s new for me to engage in my prayer discipline of icon writing with other people. I have practiced centering prayer and other forms of meditation, but this takes us all in a new direction. As we sit together we are making art – and not even the same kind of art. This means that we explore the tension between crafting what we create and resting in deep contemplation.
The harpist is learning to offer her music to hospice patients, people transitioning out of this world to somewhere else. Her music is not whole compositions – often not even tunes. So far, when she plays with us, the music seems to emerge out of the silence, and it seems to say something about the space between us. It seems to put a form to something of God.
Beyond that there are the little noises of people at work. Water swishes as I rinse a brush. Pens scrabble on journal pages. So far I have felt under these sounds a deep connectedness and focus, a listening for God’s presence, and a resting in the Holy.
The First Letter of John talks about abiding in Christ so that we recognize what we already know to be true. We don’t need to be taught where to look for Christ or who he is – we already know him through his anointing. That of him which has found a home in us allows us to abide in him. Abide in him, we are told, and we will abide in the living God.
When I think about abiding in Christ, I remember the deep, velvet silence I feel between harp notes in our contemplative art meditations. Or I experience again that solidity of focus that happens when we are together. We seem to be creating a room that belongs to the incarnate God, and we are at home in Christ there. I find that I am defined by this room. Here I know that I belong to the Creator, that I am profoundly cherished, and that my creativity is a blessing bestowed on me for the blessing of the world.
What will emerge from our group is yet to be seen. Will our individual creative processes deepen and find more and different expressions in the world? Will we discover a creative project that we are moved to engage in together? Or will we be inspired in ways we have yet to imagine? I don’t know.
But abiding in Christ is never simply a quiet, restful experience. It is always a dying to be reborn, a deep delving and rooting so that new, green shoots appear. The truth that we recognize when we abide in Christ is earth-shaking, lively, chaos-producing, and magnificently evocative. So I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Laurie Gudim works is a religious iconographer and writer in Fort Collins, Colorado. You can view some of her work at Everyday Mysteries.She has recently published her novel, Loving the Six-Toed Jesus, available from Amazon.
Image: Public domain from Pixabay