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Waters of New Birth

Painting is “Waters of Baptism” by Tim Mooney

Tim audited a class I co-taught while living in Berkeley.  A good friend and I received a grant from the Practicing Our Faith people to teach a class on creativity as Christian spiritual practice (you can read a summary here) in the spring of 2003.  It was a great experience, and we got to meet wonderfully creative and spiritually grounded students like Tim (a Presbyterian pastor, artist, and spiritual director) and begin exploring some of our ideas around creativity as a vital practice for church communities and ministry.  I got an email today from Tim, telling me about a new website where he was a featured artist.  I delighted in looking at his work again and re-visiting his own website.

I was moved by several of his paintings.  Something about the one above in particular stirred me today in connection with the Advent theme of birthing I am hoping to explore.  The water in this painting is vast and wide, like the waters of the womb that envelop and protect new growth with care.  The sun is just at the horizon, perhaps the promise of a new day or sinking deep into the night, those liminal spaces where everything seems possible and an opening appears within us that we did not see before.  Is this not what all of our prayer is really about?  Holding out hope for newness to be born again and again within us?  Looking for the opening onto the vast sea we had not seen before through the busyness of our days?

-Christine Valters Paintner

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6 Responses

  1. Me, I do love those rhythms and cycles of nature, so much to teach us about holiness.

    Wendy, Thank you so much for pointing out the Orthodox church did actually begin Advent, because I too truly felt like Advent had begun for me. Those are the themes pressing at me. I was a bit disoriented when I figured out my error, but figured there was no harm done in beginning to contemplate it early. Being reminded of my humanness is a good thing as well.

    Lisa, how wonderful that your new birth first happened during Advent. May we all experience the deep healing renewal of the Holy One.

    Blessings, Christine

  2. Yes, yes…newness born again, renewal. I was thinking this week that it is always at Advent that I seem to find myself filled again with the wonder of Christ. It was Advent when I first experienced it. I am grateful for all it offers and the hope it presents to us over and over again.

  3. Somehow i really don’t think this is anything to worry about Christine. While the official Catholic start may not be till this next weekend, for some in the Orthodox world Advent REALLY DID start this last weekend (see here for example:,+Orthodox+Advent+begins&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=5).

    Who knows, maybe the magical feeling will be even deeper next weekend, or maybe not, but I truly felt it this weekend, and so I’m cherishing it : ) And your post was still preciously timely : )

  4. Is this not what all of our prayer is really about? Holding out hope for newness to be born again and again within us?

    Renewal – over and over and over again…

    the cycle of life…

  5. Hi Wendy, well I am embarrassed to say that while Advent normally begins on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, because it was early this year, Advent officially starts next Sunday. I chalk my confusion up to the pain medicine I am taking for my bruised tailbone and Benadryl for a strange rash that has cropped up, so I have been very sleepy and didn’t get to church. I am preparing myself early for the season of preparation and in the process calling others to do the same! I love birth dreams, they always herald something new. My apologies to anyone I misled! I appreciate all who have joined me in reflecting on the meaning of this upcoming season. Blessings, Christine

  6. It’s hitting me now that last night (Sunday the first night of advent), I was dreaming of birth, kind of “birth overwhelm”. And i have you and these last two posts to thank for making that connection finally. Thank you Christine : )