Sacred Stories Across Generations

“a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse,
and from his roots a bud shall blossom.”
-Isaiah 11:1 (from the second Sunday of Advent)

Yesterday I gathered together all of the images I had found of my aunt and uncle (my mother’s siblings) as children and worked on creating something for each of them as a gift this Christmas.  I am not very close to my uncle so I am not sure how this will be received, but I felt the need and desire to create it.  This journey of reaching back across time and telling these stories through image and color has been so important to me, perhaps the most important spiritual work I am currently doing.

Genealogy is important in both Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.  Remembering from where you came was essential to understanding your identity.  I love the image of the Communion of Saints, the great circle of people who have walked this earth before us and are still present to us. Unfortunately we live in a time when the wisdom of elders is not valued and we are so distracted by the busyness of the present or the worries of the future, that we don’t hold the same awareness of these stories that flow through our blood from generations past.  We are disconnected from the struggles of our foremothers and fathers and the insights they offer to our own calling. 

I know I am just beginning this journey of discovery.  There is so much more waiting for me to claim.  I am beginning to see how story is really a series of concentric circles, beginning with my personal immediate experience.  The next ring is my ancestral stories, then next are the cultural stories that have shaped each of the people in my bloodline, and then the global story of the human race, and finally the cosmic story of how the universe itself came into being.  All of these levels beat within me making up the beauty and complexity of who I am and who you are.

As you prepare to gather with family this season, perhaps reflect on the questions you want to ask of relatives to begin piecing together the larger story.  You never know what you might discover.

-Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts

**(technical notes: there is a lot of light reflecting on these images and they are too large for my scanner, so they aren’t quite as clear as they could be and they look more yellow than they actually are.  I used two 11×14 inch wooden boards as the base and gel medium to coat them with white tissue paper.  Then I added light body acrylics in silver and copper, followed by the images, molding paste or garnet gel at some of the edges and some liquid acrylic ink for accents.  After they dried I added some stamping from stamps I have made before.)

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