I am so thankful that we were able to have our Art Vocabulary for the Soul Retreat at the end of June. King’s Fold Retreat Centre did a great job in putting in place social distancing, and alternative set ups to make it work. We had a small group of seven. I want to share with you some of the theme and images we made as we worked through the it, listening to what God had for each one of us.
The theme of New Life had been resonating in me since before Covid-19 struck. It was a theme of the dark and death of winter moving into the new life and resurrection of spring.
When we went into self isolation, and everything was battened down and restricted, I kept wondering how it would feel when we started to emerge again. Would it be like the image portrayed in the movies where a big catastrophe happens and when it stops people come out slowly as if waking from a nightmare and start to slowly move and embrace one another and picking up the pieces of their lives.
With the three stages of emergence, our picking up the pieces has been a slow process. We are still in the pandemic. It has not been eradicated, there were new cases in Edmonton again. It is still rampaging around in other parts of the world.
Then, in the last few weeks before our retreat, with the murder of George Floyd, the wave of worldwide protests and the outcry of justice and humane treatment for not only the blacks, but the indigenous and the people of color, we were again in the midst of a movement we didn’t understand and don’t know the end of.
There was a sense of death to the ways we have always done things, and we are trying to figure out how to change, to do things differently. Change can bring fear, but also optimism and a whole host of other feelings.
Our first exercise addressed the emotions we have been experiencing since mid March. We used tempera paints with sponges, fingers, plastic cards, q-tips and toothbrushes. What do you see in the paintings?
The next exercise we read Psalm 107: 1-21 and reflected on the Israelites continual falling away and coming back to God; death and resurrection. As we celebrate resurrection one of the things always included in resurrection, is the death that comes beforehand. So, we had participants reflect on that experience of death and resurrection or seeing good things and even transformation come out of some of the difficult times in life. The following were our painting responses.
Saturday and Sunday, we spent time creating and seeing where the creativity took us. I took a few pictures to give you a taste of the creativity abounding in the weekend. I also introduced some new pouring methods and we had fun experimenting.
Registration is now open for the next Art Vocabulary for the Soul Retreat, October 2-4, 2020 at King's Fold Retreat Centre. It will be a small group of 8. 5 spaces are still available. $375 early bird until Sept 4. $435 after Sept 4. Will you join us?
And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,
and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us,
because God's love has been poured into our lives through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5
We also "boast in our sufferings..." When was the last time you did that? It was certainly not something I had made a practice of, but God is teaching me to reconsider it.
This last fall, I was going through a difficult time with some relationships and in the midst of this I was very hurt and angry. I didn't like what was going on and I didn't know why it was happening. It's easy to fall into the ways of our culture of entitlement. Christian's are not immune to feeling "I deserve", "you deserve", or "we deserve" and feeling that suffering or tragedy of any sort is just plain wrong. Or sometimes we feel guilt when tragedy strikes, as if we've done something wrong and the suffering is our fault. Both of these attitudes are centered around us and what we do. We feel we have worked hard. We are good people. Therefore, we deserve good things to happen.
As all these feelings swirled around inside, I turned, as I often do, to painting to draw close to God and sort my spirit out. But when I got to this painting, what I felt I really need to work on was the rainbow. I didn't paint the hurt, instead I painted the hope I have in Christ. A sign of God's promise that he loves me and walks with me in my pain. He heals and redeems situations beyond what I can imagine. And he does it, not because I deserve it, but because he loves me. For that I will trust God to take me through and work through all that is before me. And hope does not disappoint.