Living Between the Ancient and the New

A simple post tonight as I am very tired from two full days of teaching.  Our first session of Awakening the Creative Spirit was wonderful with twelve holy women participating. 

This first session focused on an overview of all the arts and we had everyone use a collage process to focus on the question “What does your soul long for?”  Such richness revealed in that exploration.  As I made mine, a very simple one weaving together images of rootedness and the flow of ocean, I was tempted to add more images to it.  But, it felt done with all that spaciousness and simplicity.  While working two scripture quotes kept stirring in me, and I went down the hall to borrow a bible and was given a New Jerusalem translation.  I found the quotes and something about reading them in their different translation I discovered more newness in the words and they touched something deep within me:

Now I am revealing new things to you
Things hidden and unknown to you
Created just now, this very moment.
Of these things you have heard nothing until now.
So that you cannot say, Oh yes, I knew this.
-Isaiah 48:6-7

Yahweh says this:
Put yourselves on the ways of long ago
Enquire about ancient paths:
Which was the good way?
Take it then, and you shall find rest.
-Jeremiah 6:16

Something about the tension between standing on “ancient paths” and recognizing that God is continuously creating new things “just now this very moment,” expressed another layer of this sense I have of living in border spaces.  I have been having dreams about this as well that I will explore more later this week.

I have this sense of being grounded deeply in the ancient ways, especially Benedictine and Celtic paths, and at the same time being called to always recognize the newness God invites me, all of us, to at every moment.  Newness we had not even imagined until this very second.  

Can you see it, just there beyond the edges of your perception? 

And what are the ancient ways that call you to your very depths?

-Christine Valters Paintner

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7 Responses

  1. Thank you Cheryl! So wonderful to see you here, I think of you often in your new life. The collage draws me in ways I don’t fully understand either, but I hope to live into it. Thank you too for pointing me to such moving art.
    Blessings, Christine

  2. Christine, your collage is gorgeous and draws me into its mystery in ways I don’t comprehend. Upon seeing it, I also immediately thought of a New York artist who works with an ancient Japanese art form using metal-based paints. He often does work in vertical lines. His website might be interesting to you. http://www.makotofujimura.com/ Thank you for your blogs that feed my soul on a regular basis.

  3. Hi Bette, I love stones too, especially by the ocean. It is funny because my hiking partner loves to find stones along the trail, and she has a keen eye for heart-shaped ones, but they don’t draw me nearly as much as the ones shaped and smoothed by water. I love the images of your studio space, how fun to imagine you working there so carefully with those blocks of wood.
    Blessings, Christine

  4. Peace is what my soul longs for. My desire is to purge things keeping me from inner peace and simplicity. I love these bible verses….”new things, hidden and unknown” – “enquire about ancient paths” !! One of the ancient ways that calls me to my depths is the meditative process of searching for unique stones/rocks, especially in or near water. Everything about them is symbolic to me…their shape, texture, color, patterns…their existence precedes and surpasses me, putting my path between them.

  5. Hi Wendy, Stonehenge is a wonderful image, thanks for sharing that!

    Trish, I think we live much of our lives in holy tension, between ancient and new, between grief and joy, I like that image of stretching you offer. It makes me think of creating spaces within us for newness to take root.

    Blessings and love to you both! Christine

  6. Oh, Christine. Such a stunning image. I must weave one of my own. Thank you.

    I often find myself in wonder about the ancient – new tension. I long to live like I imagine the ancients did; yet I am ever in wonder of the “newness” of life – and even the culture in which I was born. I also find this tension in the heritage of my family of origin and beyond. I often reflect upon (and wrestle with, and feel grateful for, and resist, and bow to) the storylines of my ancestors. I am the culmination of all their stories and yet I am fresh and new in each breath. At times the weight of the stories feels so heavy I want to break out of it all – to rip myself from the family tree and be grafted somewhere else. At other times my heart is so grateful for this family from which I come, my heart so filled with compassion for their stories and the choices they made as best they knew how.

    Tension. Not BAD tension, mind you. Just tension, as in stretching. Truly, a stretching that makes me more of who I am and what I’ve been created to be.

  7. I am very drawn to this image Christine. It reminds me of the ancient stone circles like Stonehenge ( I keep wanting to spell that Stonehedge, like “hedge of protection”). The stones are ancient, and yet the ground of the earth they encircle, ever new.

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