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Art for Advent

“This season beckons me to ask, what am I preparing for? What is the way that is being prepared within the wilderness of my life? What does it mean for my own life to become a path, a way of welcome for the Holy One? How do I give myself time to notice the ways that the path unfolds before me and within me? What are the acts of preparation that bring delight to my daily life? Whom do I ask or allow to help me prepare?”

-Jan Richardon, Night Visions: Searching the Shadows of Advent and Christmas

As most of you who read here regularly know, I love questions.  They are so much more interesting to me than answers and more honest too.  The poet Rilke invited us to “live the questions” which for me means living into a spirituality that respects and honors mystery.

Advent is my favorite liturgical season, in part because it parallels my favorite natural season of winter, especially this next month as we descend further and further into the darkness.  Advent invites us deeper into womb-space, asks us to trust that the darkness holds wisdom and beauty we cannot yet understand, it demands that we become familiar with the landscape of waiting.

Last week I shared some resources for Advent and my own commitment this season to a practice of art-making. Of course, art-making is already a primary spiritual practice for me, but I am going to challenge myself to move out of my comfort zone a little bit and begin experiementing with some new forms, new ways of working with my photos as well as some beautiful family photos I have been sorting through.  I am committing to doing something every day, even if it is just a small step in a larger work of art and I’ll share some of the journey here with you.  I am also planning to use some of the Isaiah texts that form most of the first readings during Advent in lectio divina and let some of my art flow from that. 

Art will be the way I allow my life “to become a path, a way of welcome for the Holy One” and the way I will give myself time to notice the ways that the path unfolds before me and within me, to answer Jan’s questions above. 

Tess and lucy have said they’d like to join in once a week.  Suz and chartreuseova are considering how they might participate.  I welcome others who’d like to join in the fun.  You can either voice your commitment in the comments or just make a private covenant with yourself to let this Advent be about much more than the rush toward Christmas. Who knows what might be birthed if you give yourself space to nurture the seeds within?

-Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts

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11 Responses

  1. It’s a trend! (sort of!) Two days in a row, two Advent-tacious blogs… :)

    I have another post to put up later, but am still thinking and tweaking on it a bit…


  2. Elaine, I think gardening is a very creative act! Hope you enjoy the book. :-)

    Deb, delighted to hear you are inspired to create more during this season of birthing!

  3. OK… I think I want to do more creative writing and/or photography for Advent too… will put the camera in my car every day and see what God shows me.

    Thanks for the encouragement and challenge to see God outside the box.


  4. Hi Christine. I plan to follow your artistic explorations during Advent. I will limit my creativity to arranging and rearranging the outdoor lights in my balcony garden. :) Even though it was very cold and my finger and toes were numb after a couple of hours outside, I managed to put up lights to begin this Advent season of darkness, waiting, and hope.

    Thank you for sharing the questions from Jan’s book. I am eagerly awaiting my copy. (I ordered last week upon your recommendation). Now I can ponder these questions — a new way for me to enter into and go slow through Advent.

  5. Yay Bette — can’t wait to see what you come up with! :-) I did more rubber stamp carving today which was great fun and I will be taking a workshop on woodblock carving in February.

  6. I WILL commit to doing one relief carving per week this month! In fact I’m working on one right now and should be ready to print it tonight and post it to my blog.

    Thanks for the challenge and inspiration and for reminding me to retrieve my “Night Visions” book by Jan Richardson. It will be nice to spend time with her writings again :)