In the second week of Lent, as we savor the scripture of the Transfiguration, I can’t help but think how much this transformative experience for the disciples is like creating a work of art. .
In the Gospel, Jesus reveals his glory to Peter, John and James by being transfigured before their eyes. There’s a glimpse of what’s to come, but they struggle to make sense of what they’ve seen. Before an artist creates, he has a vision of what is to come, but it is often the journey in creating that the paschal mystery is encountered, and it is through this experience that gives meaning to the finished work. .
I cannot imagine a world without art and without theology. Artistic creation offers the possibility of deepening awareness of self, of the world and can act as a catalyst to evoke the spirit. Art is a way of seeing to re-search and find the living meaning of what it means to open the heart. Art invites us to listen and contemplate, providing a timeless and transcendent experience. Art allows “the eye to listen”, by entering into an active silence of attention. These skills require a mindset of not necessarily thinking about how long it will take to reach a destination or even having that as an end goal, but rather savoring the transformational journey. Anyone can create art, but for it to be theological, the artist must explore the ways in which they make faith meaningful. Opening the heart through art involves making meaning through creation, then reflecting on the art itself and unfolding the moment-to-moment direct experience of the process.
I recently discovered Makoto Fujimura and fell in love with his book, podcasts, and thoughts on art and faith – A Theology of Making.
Makoto Fujimura writes:
“In my studio, I make art. The term theology of doing amplifies how this human act is linked to the divine presence. Simply put, when we make, God shows up.
Fujimura states that as God is the creator and we are created in the image and likeness of God, we too are all creators. We were made to paint light in the dark.
Fujimura says that unless we do something, we cannot know the depth of God’s being and the grace of God that pervades our lives. Artistic creation is a discipline of awareness, prayer and praise. It is a sacred way of understanding the deep human experience and the nature of our existence in the world. To be human is to have imagination and to be creative and that is what gives us wings.
Like Fujimura, I am drawn to the Japanese art of Kintsugi, which is the repair of broken pottery by repairing the broken areas with lacquer mixed with gold powder. As a philosophy, kintsugi is similar to the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, an acceptance of flaws or imperfection. Pain or scars endured should not be hidden, but honored as symbols of strength, beauty and wisdom.
Reflecting on the Transfiguration, I wonder what Peter, John and James must have thought and felt, especially Peter, who wanted to put up tents to accommodate the vision. It was difficult for them to understand what they had witnessed and they needed time to reflect in silence in order to make sense of the experience. Often the process of creating art takes on a life of its own and the artist comes to a point where they need time to consider the way forward. For a work of art to feel complete, the artist must understand the meaning of travel. Thus the disciples will come to a final realization of why they experienced what they did. For now, the transfiguration encounter has left them in a space where they are silent as they struggle to make sense of the experience.
You are invited to attend Art and Spirituality Day. This workshop will be an opportunity to awaken the spirit through the beauty of creations, prayer and reflection of God. Participants will engage in artistic creation experiences that will nurture their faith.
Date: Thursday, March 31
Location: Kilaben Bay Community Center
Cost: $25 per person (includes morning tea, lunch, and art equipment)
To register visit: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/o/diocese-of-maitland-newcastle-18080128129
Contact: Rose McAllister | [email protected]
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