Poem – snow day

snow day

Remember that feeling you have
when you look outside
and everything
is covered by snow?

It was forecasted
but they didn’t know exactly
when it would happen –
what time of day,
or even if this day or the next.
But it was coming,
that was certain.

And while you were asleep
the snow appeared,
silently
making everything white,
everything new,
covering the world
with a silent calm,
a soft pure light.

Every prayer,
every reconciliation,
every bridge mended,
every addiction cured,
every honest conversation,
every deep listening

is a snowflake.

The world will change
because we will change it
because we were changed
one
by
one
by
one
a light comes on
and we share it, we shine it.

A new day is coming.
A new day is here.

Icy lake

Icy lake 012016

The delicate look of a frozen lake. Beautiful and yet dangerous. Hidden tracery, unknown depths.

5.5 x 7 inch Pacon watercolor card stock
Distress Ink – dusty concord, tumbled glass, chipped sapphire
Salt
Painted on Rusty Hinge Distress Ink
Watered down Bombay sepia ink
Tissue paper applied with matte medium
Poppy seeds
Decoupage glue / leftover metal button
Glazing medium

Made 1-20-16

Lost time

Lost time 012016

Inspired by/things that came up during the creation –
Fungi, soy/wasabi leftovers, debris, passage of time, look close you might miss it, beauty in ugliness, things passed over.

(Close up)
Lost time 012016 close

Materials used –
6×9 piece of “Pacon” watercolor card stock
Glue stick
White crayon
Distress Ink – Rusty hinge, crusted olive
Dr. PH Martin’s Bombay sepia ink
“thirsty brush” technique
Toothbrush with water to spatter
Used salt (previously used in watercolor painting, reclaimed)
“Crushed glass” glitter
Water/paintbrush
Holographic nail polish
“gelly roll” white pen
Light blue “super gel” pen
Poured white acrylic paint mixed with water
Decoupage glue
Tim Holtz “idea-ology” clock pieces
Glamour glitz crystal

Made 1-19 to 1-20-16

Broken dreams

Broken dreams2 011816

This speaks to obsessive, controlling “love” that is one-sided.
Brokenness, cover up of truth/self/other.
How even in the same language and culture two people are like other nations/languages. Miscommunication.
Washed out roads and bridges – driving in the fog.
Being lost even with a map.
The glitter represents the celebration of the crushed glass at a Jewish wedding ceremony, simultaneous with the broken glass and dishes in a “domestic disturbance” – how joy can turn into tragedy.
The two sides of a bad relationship – where one is completely clueless as to the terror of the other.
Relentless pursuit, feeling trapped.

(close up)
Broken dreams2 011816 close

Materials/techniques used –
Strathmore 9 x 12 visual journal
Bought ephemera – sheet music “I had a dream, dear” and Asian map
Matte medium
Scrapbooking scissors
Distress Ink – Rusty hinge, crushed olive, chipped sapphire
Acrylic paint – olive green + white + water, manganese blue
Fingernail to scratch out a section.
Paper towel to remove paint.
Gold “super gel” pen
Spray mount, “crushed glass” glitter
Tim Holtz “idea-ology” words

(Made over two days, from 1-17 to 1-18-16)

Pink quilt

pink quilt2 011816

Random pink/red scrapbooking pages
Strathmore visual journal
used stamps
white acrylic paint mixed with water
bronze “super gel” pen (The Write Dudes)
white pen
Distress ink
glue stick

Inspired in part by the character “Izabel” from the Saga comic book series, drawn by Fiona Staples. I normally do not like pink, especially fuchsia, but have been drawn to it recently. It is part of my current practice to look closely at everything that I normally turn away from, to learn from it and invite healing into it. Everything is a teacher.

What should Church be?

For many people, church looks like this at the most basic level
cross

Yet remember that the angel said to the women who went to find Jesus at the tomb –

The angel said to the women “Do not be afraid! I know that you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. Why are you looking among the dead for the living? He is not here – he has been resurrected!” (Condensed Gospel rendition)

The church as we know it is dying.

The Christian faith tradition must change what it looks at in order to survive. It must change from being a religion of rites and creeds.

It must stop being an institution focused on
the historical Jesus
and the future Jesus
and learn to BE Jesus right now,
to the people in the world.

It must stop the idea of “Bringing people to Jesus”
(preaching the Gospel)
and start living the idea of “Bringing Jesus to people”
(living the Gospel)

Many people have left church because they know that something is missing.

There are many large abandoned church buildings.
abandoned1
abandoned3
abandoned4

And at the center of them is the altar, a shrine to death, to sacrifice.
abandoned2

For many, church is a place of divine insight, of sudden epiphanies

light1
light2
light3

But then when they leave, the everyday world is dull and boring.

For many, church is a sanctuary against the storms of life

lighthouse1
lighthouse2

But does this teach them to live in the world?

Perhaps Church can be seen as a boat, to rise above the dangerous waters, or to safely travel to visit or help others.
boat1
boat2

Each person gets their own boat. They learn how to row it themselves. They develop the strength to help themselves and to help others.
boat3

It is a place where we can each learn how to learn and grow safely. Others watch our progress and make sure we are not going to get hurt. They cheer us on.
belay1

It needs to be a place where we can learn that right here is where God meets us – that God loved us enough to come down to Earth to be with us and live among us. That God loves us enough to still be with us right now, right where we are. That God wants to work through us, and with us.
here1
here 2

Church should be small, human sized.
small1

It should be intimate and personal.
small2
small 3
small 4

Why have we so long built churches that are immense, that dwarf us, that make us feel insignificant?
big1
big2
big3

They feel lonely, cold, isolating.
big4

They are out of proportion with us.
big 5

When God came to earth, God came as our size. The Temple is not a place, but within us.

Often churches are built far away, high up, hard to get to.

far1
far2
far 4
far 5
far6

This is especially true of monasteries. They are places to retreat from the world.

Jesus tells his disciples that they are to be in the world – not apart from it. Jesus trained them to feed, to clothe, to help – everyone, not just those who are “in”.

For so many, God is seen as immense, and difficult to get to.
far 3

There are narrow paths, and gates, and boundaries in the way
gate1
gate2
gate3

We need to break apart the idea of church. We need to see through it, to reinvent it.
apart 1
apart 2
apart 3

Even modern churches, while looking different, still have the perspective wrong. The focus is on the preacher – on one person. The people sit passively, staring in the same direction. If they speak at all, it is from a script (a hymnal, a prayer-book) Only one person is allowed to speak something different, to direct the service.

pew 1
pew 2
pew 3
pew 4
pew 5

This sets up a hierarchy – of one person higher than the rest. This is directly opposed to what Jesus wanted, who wanted us to have only God above us. To have a person above us is to make them into an idol.

I’ve met many people who’ve left church for all of these reasons. They felt lost, alienated, alone. They too read the Gospel and met the real living Jesus and made a home for him in their hearts. They know that Jesus says that the Church is us – people, doing the will of God here in the world.

Yet, God says that people were not made to be alone. We are meant to be in community. We are meant to live and work and be together. No one person has everything required. We must work together.

Church needs to be all of us working together to help others. It isn’t a building or a place. But even if we remove the idea of the church being a building, we still have to remember the ideas that have long been part of church, so even when we take the Church out of the building, we must still make sure the old ways don’t come along.

It must be open to all.
It must be human-sized.
It must not be led by a single person – all must participate.
It must be a place where all can grow.

Again- it sounds like I’m talking about a place – an institution. I’m not. Certainly, people need to gather together occasionally. People cannot truly connect online. But, the money raised from members cannot go to a building or a salary. It cannot be inward-based. This will cause self-collapse, and is the opposite of what Jesus wants. The Church cannot support the church. The Church – the Body of Christ, must give aid to the world. That is where tithes must go. Outward.

People can meet in small groups, in each others’ homes.
They can meet in school gyms (they are not being used on the weekend)
They can meet in community centers or hotels.

There are plenty of already-built places that have meeting areas that are either free or inexpensive.

But when they meet, it must be a place to organize to go out into the world, to bring Jesus to people, by feeding, clothing, healing, visiting.

Not by preaching the Gospel,
but by living it.

(All pictures are from Pinterest)

Houses on top of houses

I have noticed that I really am interested in houses on top of houses. Not apartment complexes, but separate houses built one on top of each other, almost randomly, stair-stepping up a hillside. I looked on Pinterest and discovered there are several such house-collections (Villages? Towns?) all across the world.

I’m not sure why I like this, since I value privacy and certainly didn’t like sharing walls with other people when I lived in a townhouse. You hear (and sometimes smell) everything your neighbors do. Sometimes the noises are very disturbing to the point that perhaps the police need to be called.

So why do I like this? I decided to dig deeper using these images.

The last picture I found was a big part of it. This is in Santorini, Greece.
Amalfi stairs

Steps on the outside of a building, attached to the wall. Something very intriguing to me here. You can come and go without anyone in the house knowing. Private access. You share a house, but not a life. Not all is revealed.

Yet also part of what I like with these large collections of houses is how does anyone get home? What is the “road” and what is your neighbor’s roof? Sometimes the two are the same.

This is in Masuleh, Iran
Masuleh Iran2

Closer –
Masuleh Iran

Here is Kandovan village, near Tabriz, Iran. It was constructed from a cave system.
Kandovan Iran
Kandovan Tabriz Iran
Kandovan Tabriz Iran2

This is in Turkey – Ortahisar.
Ortahisar Turkey

Here is El Aleuf, M’Zab, Iran. While not stacked on top of each other, it is still intriguing to me because the walls are all shared, like one house grew onto another. It looks like a nest or a hive, rather than a planned thing. More organic.
El Aleuf

Then there are shanty towns, barrios, favelas in Brazil.
favela Brazil

One got painted – it is Santa Marta. The people are still very poor, but at least their houses are beautiful.
favela Santa Marta Brazil

This is Cinque Terre, Nanarola, Northern Italy
Cinque Terre1
Cinque Terre2
Cinque Terre3
Cinque Terre4

This is on the Amalfi coast, Positano, Southern Italy
Almalfi Italy1
Amalfi2

These are all Santorini, Greece
Santorini1
Santorini2
Santorini3
Santorini4
Santorini5
Santorini6
Santorini7
Santorini8

This is a Buddhist monastery, Phuktal, in Ladakh, India
Phuktal India1
Phuktal India2
Phuktal monastery Ladakh
Phuktal4

Here are some similar ideas, of housing complexes that no longer exist. They are further from the main idea, but still close enough that they say something to it.

This is Kowloon Walled City, Hong Kong
Kowloon1
Kowloon China2

and this is Derinkuyu
Derinkuyu

How do you get home? What is it like to share walls and roofs with people? How well do you know them? Does living close create community? Or are people so close that they crave distance?

I like the ideas I’m reading about communal living, intentional communities, and cohousing.

I don’t think these are that at all. I think for most of these villages/towns they were unintentional – a lot of people wanted to live in the same place. Some had no choice – they were very poor and built wherever they could. Sharing a wall or a roof meant you didn’t have to build one. Some of these are very wealthy places – highly desired tourist destinations as well. Some are slums.

Yet they all share the same idea – shared houses, stacked on top of each other. No distinct roads or easy ways to get to your home.

How would you draw a map? How would you tell others how to get to your home?

Maybe that is part of the point – it is so hard to get there that you can get lost inside it, never worrying about people visiting you. You are hidden in plain sight. The very nature of it means that you have privacy, in a seemingly counter-intuitive way.

(All pictures are from Pinterest.)