Editors Note: Each Thursday in July we are having an Artful Julybilee – a celebration of art through the exploration of our current theme. We have many talented artists and authors and will be featuring several each week culminating in a booklet at the end. Come explore the facets of what it means to be Living as Christ Lived: Towards Justice, Love, and Peace for All Creation through the lens of art. You can find Part One Here: Towards Peace For All Creation. Then head to part three and part four, or straight to our FREE convenient downloadable booklet!
Featured Photo Christine Sine, communion during a Celtic Retreat
The Prodigal Son
During our walk of faith, especially when we falter or fall away, one of the most reassuring things is knowing that God never turns away from us. On the contrary, he waits with infinite patience and endless love for us to return to him.
God longs for us to develop a growing awareness of who he is and accept the amazing, unconditional love he has for us. This wondrous love gives us hope and strengthens us when we encounter problems.
“So he had this moment of self-reflection: ‘What am I doing here? Back home, my father’s hired servants have plenty of food. Why am I here starving to death? I’ll get up and return to my father, and I’ll say, ‘Father, I have done wrong—wrong against God and against you. I have forfeited any right to be treated like your son, but I’m wondering if you’d treat me as one of your hired servants?’ So he got up and returned to his father. The father looked off in the distance and saw the young man returning. He felt compassion for his son and ran out to him, enfolded him in an embrace, and kissed him.” — Luke 15: 17-20 The Voice
The Prodigal Son story celebrates the lost runaway’s eventual return to his father and the home where his heart truly belongs. It mirrors our relationship with God, who joyfully welcomes us back whenever we have strayed or got lost.
The Prodigal Son
The father stoops to comfort,
to welcome home his lost
and errant son. No rebuke.
No reproach. Only a ring
on his finger, a sizzling roast
dinner, and a fresh set of clothes.
This prodigal had strayed, lost
his way and lost himself
to baser things.
Turned his back, then turned
full circle to return again.
He came home as one who had
seen the seedy side of life,
the degradations of squandering
his inheritance, his wealth,
his soul on loose living.
He came with guilt and shame,
humiliated by his own
behaviour, by the state
he was in, expecting
to be treated as he thought
he deserved, but met with
grace and mercy instead.
More than that, he encountered
open arms and open heart, a warm
embrace, tears, forgiveness, peace,
acceptance, a kneeling father
pouring out nothing but love.
We are prodigals, stray sheep
who have wandered off
and squandered the gifts
our God has lavished
on us, without a thought.
Yet he receives us all, comes
running barefoot in our souls,
in his haste to comfort,
not to scold. And to hold us close,
this child he’s lost and esteems
as precious and dearly beloved.
Garden Inspiration Breath Prayer
by Christine Sine; photo below also by Christine of the peace rose in her garden.
This breath prayer was written one morning as I gazed out at the beauty of my garden, expressing my love towards all creation.
I breathe in and inhale my love for creation,
I breathe out and express my concern for our world.
I breathe in and know God cares for creation,
I breathe out and know God suffers with our world.
No pain is too small to make God weep,
Too big for God to change.
God’s love will transform all.
God’s love will bring new life.
The Great Loves
by Melissa Taft, photos by Melissa Taft. The quilt made for a friend’s baby, and two of Grandma’s quilts displayed at her funeral – one she made for a grandson and one for a granddaughter.
Once, a friend I held dear discovered she was moving far away. I had dreamed of our children continuing to grow up together. I didn’t know what to do with all the love that I had for her that could no longer be expressed in person, so I purposed to pour it out in a blanket for her unborn son. “Grief is love with nowhere to go” I once heard, and I believe it. I needed a place for that love to go, so I could move from grief to peace. My idea blossomed and I decided to make it a community project. I cut squares of interfacing and asked special people in her life to write a blessing or a verse or a wish for the baby. I stitched the quilt top, then carefully embroidered all the wishes and prayers and dreams onto the squares. I wanted each person’s unique handwriting to come through, so that my friend could see how a whole community stitched together tangible love to keep her baby warm. That it wasn’t just my love represented, but all of us. And indeed, years later it brought comfort and confirmation to them. I think a blanket was my go-to idea because that is how my grandmother expressed her love.
My Grandma May was a quilter, and she stitched blankets for new babies. She also made quilts for special people in her life, at different stages in their lives. I have several quilts from her, including one we made together. She often made a baby quilt and then a twin quilt for her preschooler grandchildren. Hand-stitched appliques of cowboys and sunbonnets and flowers so treasured that a few were featured at her funeral. We kept close her blanketing love, even when we outgrew the pattern.
Some of these quilts are worn, and a new project I’ve taken on is salvaging all those stitched-in prayers and dreams for me into one that is more useful to my adult self. It’s a way for me to honor my love for her and her love for me. And dreaming of this new project made me remember that community quilt I put together. It made me remember the time when my son was young, an illness left him gasping for air. In the cold and confusing ward of the hospital, amidst the beeps and the constant interruptions and intrusions -He was offered a blanket. Not a factory-made covering but one stitched of love for a hurting child, handmade for a stranger by a stranger to cloak protectively around the wound of fear and bring comfort and color to the room. He got to keep it, and it became a special comfort during times of illness.
So too I began to think of the blankets and hats knitted for newborns in the hospital – and the blankets made for the homeless. I think of my friend who spent a summer in Chios welcoming refugees; and how one of the biggest needs was baby carriers and blankets so an international group of strangers stepped up to provide. I think of the devastation of wildfires and how knitters around the world discovered a tangible string from their hands to the burned koalas who needed a place to heal and hide their paws. How often we welcome the new, the seekers of refuge, the wounded and ill, the disenfranchised – with love. Love flung from crochet hooks and threaded through needles to bring comfort, warmth, and care.
And so I looked anew at “Love Covers Over A Multitude of Sins.” Love does not dismiss or pretend. It does not ignore injustice for the sake of personal quiet, or offers carte blanche for the sinner, but offers instead balm to the sinned-against. Maybe love covers the sin of wounded wildlife – our climate calamity hubris laid bare. Maybe love covers the sin of borders and hoarders – bringing warmth and relief to those who seek refuge be it a far land or their own hometown. Love covers; whether it is healing a wound or injustice, or simply an expression of care from a loving heart. May you find the ways that love covers you – and find the ways to let your love cover others.
Enjoy the meditative focus of beautiful prayer cards. Open yourself to awe and wonder – or gift someone the joy of prayers and photographs by Christine Sine. Experience a piece of her excellent book through twelve prayers and reflections beautifully illustrated with photographs from Christine’s personal collection. Available in a single set, sets of three to share, or a convenient downloadable form to enjoy instantly. You can find these options and more in our shop!