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