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Shoveling Snow


I haven’t posted my own art in a couple of days mostly because I have gotten absorbed in sifting through photo bins and selecting more images for future work and then scanning them into the computer to reprint.  I have noticed a little twinge of guilt rise within me — you said you were going to make art every day during Advent, aren’t you letting this preparation of materials take too long?   Ah my inner-taskmaster, I have actually grown fond of her as she often helps me to get things done, however I have also learned to recognize when her voice is not being helpful.

This process of sifting and selecting images has been profoundly contemplative for me as well as a great journey of discovery. It seems like every time I go through one of the bins I have of family photos I encounter new ones I hadn’t seen or noticed before. I sit with these windows into my family’s story, which is ultimately my own story, and let the images speak in ways that words cannot.  Moments captured in time, including the two images above of my eight year-old self at my grandparent’s house in Massachusetts one winter.

The second reading today in the Christian lectionary is from the letter to James and reads in part:

Be patient, brothers and sisters,
until the coming of God.
See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth,
being patient with it
until it receives the early and the late rains.
You too must be patient.
Make your hearts firm,
because the coming of God is at hand.

I linger over each image as though it were the great treasure it really is, a clue to a bigger mystery of how I am enfolded in this wide pool of people who had a part bringing me into the world.  Part of me is impatient, get to the real work the voice insists, but I honor these moments of loving attention.  I embrace the patience that the creative process so often demands, learning to listen for when the fruit is ripe, when the moment has come to unleash what is stirring within.

-Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts

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9 Responses

  1. I have to agree that most of the time poems feed my soul far more than sermons and homilies. :-) So glad you got to share time with you son and you found your birth time! Yes, a reading would be great to do. Maybe a great gift to yourself for the new year?

  2. your continuing inspiration makes me smile. sorting, sifting, preparing space were all part of my holy weekend. i actually went to church yesterday and they read the lectionary you quoted here. more words on that experience hopefully later, but i have to admit this poem feels much more holy to me than listening to the rants of a priest gone off track :-( the organ and ethereal choir music were lovely, however, as well as the communion of saints. (also, having my son sitting next to me was pretty great!) btw–i found another little treasure this weekend…a document from the hospital confirming my time of birth! i think a full reading may be somewhere in my near future :-) blessings this day and i hope you find some snow to play in on christmas day (as long as it doesn’t close the airport here :-))

  3. Framingham, Massachusetts. Yes, Advent is usually a busy time which is why I wanted to see if making a commitment like this would allow me to spend more time in reflection and it has definitely worked. :-)

  4. Wonder pictures! Whereabouts in Massachusetts? I hail from Longmeadow.
    Wow – trying to createArt every day during advent … you’re gooooood. This is the time of year things are brewing for me, as I have go and do so many other things. January usually finds me getting back into a mighty groove with artwork.
    Great words, as usual!

  5. That’s good. Too much guilt is not good for the soul, I say.

    The ice storm was fantastic…especially when I knew I didn’t need to drive! It reminded me of something out of a fairy tale. I half expected the Snow Queen to come out of the trees!

  6. Rachelle, I am longing for more snow. We had one magical day a couple of weeks ago and then it was gone. Although Seattle rarely gets snow, I told my husband I want to drive to the mountains on Christmas day and play. :-) To find last week’s work, make sure you click on “blog” and then scroll down, at the bottom there is a link to “previous entries” that will take you there.

    Thanks Suz, I actually don’t really feel much guilt, but enjoyed the exchange with this part of myself. I have always wanted to see an ice storm!

  7. Rachelle, you make me laugh! I love the image of your ten pound dog managing the snow and allowing Buddha shovel it for you.

    No guilt, please, Christine! I loved seeing Rebecca’s collage and poem and the pictures of you when you were young. I am moving my intention to the New Year. This time of year has just been too crazy.

    I was lucky enough to be in Kansas City in the ice storm (in some ways). I know it was a disaster for many but the sight of the crystalline ice on the trees was incredibly beautiful…escpecially when the sun began to shine. The roads melted but the trees were dressed in ice for four days of my visit.

  8. Lovely reflection, Christine. Thank You. We have a fresh white snowfall this morning–about 4 inches. I let Buddha clear it without me. I took the dog for a walk instead. We ran through the ruts the tires left in the unplowed road. The dog is only 10 pounds so you can imagine how little it actually takes for him to be confronted by a mountain of snow that he can’t climb over easily.
    It’s pleasurable to join your delight in shushing the well-intentioned task-master while you reconnect with images of an earlier self. Thanks also for the connection within the lectionary. It’s expansive to my own engagement with it to be called to attention by the way that someone else sees it with new eyes with each turn of the cycle.
    I want to look again at the work you did last week with the photos. Why am I having trouble finding that?
    Where’d it go????
    Maybe if I ask nicely,
    may I please encounter your art once again? We have miles to go before we sleep…