Art + Advent: Week 1
Theme: The rising and setting of the sun
The Art + Advent project is a collaboration between two Garrett-Evangelical Student Organizations, the Arts Committee and sustainGETS. Throughout Advent 2020, these groups have crafted a series of prompts to inspire the practice of art, and their definition of art is wide: ranging from cooking and dance to painting and poetry and all in between. Each week includes one prompt and suggested spiritual practice in hopes of guiding the Advent season towards meaningful experiences and creativity.
Below is a collection of the first week's prompts and the participants' reflections and artwork. All words and images are copyrighted by their creators through the Creative Commons License. We share this content to inspire how the intersections of art, ecology, and spiritually can nurture communal connection during this season of pandemic.
Opening Reflection by Jacqueline Anderson
Thresholds are times of marked transition. We are offered a moment of pause to recognize this transition from what has been to what is to come. These moments can offer an awareness of and a leaning into the present moment, mystery, transformation, renewal, and critical hope. Attentiveness to these moments are often marked by ritual observance. At this time of year, the daily thresholds of the sun are easily accessible to us as the sun rises late and sets early. Praying at the thresholds of the day can be a powerful ritual; it is a welcome reminder of intentional prayer and invites us to reawaken a sensitivity to creation’s daily cycles and beauty. If you are able to practice this meditation outside, or with a window open, be attentive to the sensations of the air on your skin, the scents, and sounds. Be especially attentive to your breath. Breathe in deeply, pause, and breathe out slowly. A simple breath prayer is welcome in this space. You can say the words aloud or in your head and repeat 10 times. Breathe in: Jesus, Son of God, Breathe out: Have mercy on me. Or you may use the morning and evening prayers below, A morning prayer: As the sun rises, God, Creator of the cosmos, Let your love rise, like the sun, within my heart. An evening prayer: As the night approaches, God, I place myself in your hands. As the sun descends, let me find hope and rest in you. Reflection and art by Cassie Chee
Another benefit of watching the sunrise is the beauty of the sky. After a while, you realize it's not so much a sky as it is a canvas. Creator is not a far off and distant God. Creator is an amazing artist with a personality, an eye for beauty, and even a sense of humor. Every morning is a carefully orchestrated production, complete with a musical score. But the production is not a play or even a musical. The production is the act of creation of a piece of art. The production is the privilege of watching the artist painting the picture, shaping the vase, and arranging the score. So the beauty is not just the final product; the beauty is seen in watching that piece of artwork come into being.
- Mark Charles, Unsettling Truths: The Ongoing, Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery, pp. 5
For the first week of this advent meditation I tried to go outside to see the sunrise over the Cascade mountains every morning and then paint it from memory. I learned two things: one, I was reminded that I am still a recovering perfectionist and letting go of not seeing the sunrise every morning and not being able to "accurately capture" the scene was something I had to choose intentionally throughout the week. Two, painting from memory has made me realize how much beauty I often miss in the always unfolding process of creation and creating. This week I felt more love and appreciation for the Coast Salish lands I was raised on, for fresh crisp air, and the color green.
Reflection and art by Dr. Timothy Eberhart
The six hens we welcomed to our yard home this spring began laying eggs this fall. As we've learned, hens typically lay their eggs in the early to mid morning hours, often singing out during and shortly afterward. "Buk, buk, buk, buk, bu-gaaawwk!" is one of the first sounds we now hear each morning, announcing yet another new egg at the break of a new day. As Catherine Keller, Mark Wallace, and Elizabeth Johnson each describe, the word used in the first verses of Genesis 1 to describe the Spirit's "hovering" like a bird over the dark expanse is a feminine-ending verb - merahefet - that might also be translated as to "flutter over," "tremble over," or "vibrate over." As Wallace writes, "The writer of Genesis describes the Spirit as a flying, feathered being to describe its nurturing care over the great expanse (perhaps we should say the great egg?) of creation" (When God Was a Bird: Christianity, Animism, and the Re-Enchantment of the World, 2019, p. 23). Like the first day of creation, each new day arrives as another gift, born out from the deep darkness of night by God our Mother Hen, who lovingly broods, nurtures, and sings us all into existence.
Reflection and art by Leo Karris
Tags: Advent, sunrise, sunset, Creation, Mother, preparation, threshold, art