Editors Note: Each Thursday in July we have had an Artful Julybilee – a celebration of art through the exploration of our current theme. We hope you’ve enjoyed the many talented authors and artists who have shared their timely reflections. 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. Part Two: Towards Love for All Creation. Part Three: Towards Justice for All Creation. And enjoy the WHOLE COLLECTION along with some unpublished extras in this FREE downloadable booklet, available in our shop!
Featured image: ‘rise-fall’, A painting by Kate Kennington Steer
The Center of Shalom
by Gil George
The Freedom of Creative Episodes
In 1990 I was diagnosed with a severe chronic illness called M.E. and I became one of those represented by the #millionsmissing campaign (launched by #MEAction). Yet since I was first ill I had this mysterious set of symptoms that rendered me ‘paralysed’ and often unable to communicate, which medics could not agree on whether it fitted the M.E. profile. In the last few years, I have been given an additional diagnosis of having FND (functional neurological disorders). In reaction to the COVID-19 vaccines my seizures suddenly got markedly more severe and more frequent. Eventually, after missing yet another family get-together, last September my inner ‘sod-it’ sense kicked in, and I begun to wonder how I might create my way out of, or at least through, these seizures. By Serendipity, I found the Artset4 app for my iPad. Since then, I’ve been trying to ‘digital-1-finger-paint’ (usually the crabbed, cramped index finger of my right hand) to paint my way through the wracking pain of each seizure (also known as an ‘episode’, hence the title of my first solo exhibition) … and by dint of concentrating on something else through distraction & mindfulness, managing to persuade my neurons to jump tracks and allow my body to cease shaking, cramping, seizing, etc etc. I firmly believe each painting now heals, as well as slows, the course of each seizure. By Grace, each painful arcing of my body might be translated into marks on digital canvas.
For a longer description of ‘K’s big bday gratitude project’, please follow this link: https://imageintoikon.com/2022/04/30/ks-big-birthday-gratitude-project/
For a 1 1/2 minute video of ‘what does healing look like to you?’ please follow this link:
For a longer blog about my M.E./FND & using an iPad to paint please follow this link:
If you are interested in how the paintings emerge during the course of a seizure please follow this link:
[Please, carers as well as sufferers are gaining a bit of respite from ‘digital-1-finger-painting’ so do get in touch with me for more information.]
Warm Weight of Love
Creative Prayer for Creation Care
What’s your favorite place in nature? A beach, the mountains, a lake, a meadow? What’s your favorite aspect of nature? Flowers, reflective water, a specific kind of animal, a tree?
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how we can pray more deeply for God’s creation and how we can feel like we are walking with Jesus when we care for creation. I’ll give you some ideas here, and you can see more of them in the Lenten devotional I co-wrote for our church this year.
Gratitude and praise. Thankfulness prayers are deeply appropriate – and even foundational – when we pray about God’s creation. We don’t have to look very far to find things to praise and thank God for when we look at the beauty of flowers, trees, hills, mountains, lakes, oceans, clouds, and thousands of other manifestations of God’s creativity and beauty.
Lament. We also don’t have to look very far in God’s creation to feel upset about damage to the beauty of the world God created so intricately and carefully. Lament prayers express sadness, grief, anger and frustration. We tell God what we’re upset about. Lament prayers are appropriate in so many areas when we see or think about environmental degradation and the effect on people on the margins.
Confession and assurance of pardon. If you’re like me, and you feel guilt about not engaging in creation care as much as you’d like to, or as much as you’ve felt led to, God invites you to bring those thoughts and feelings into a prayer of confession. God always forgives us and gives us a fresh start.
Intercession. Prayers of intercession for creation are appropriate in so many areas. So many people are involved in aspects of caring for God’s creation. So many people create policy that impacts the earth. Where can we start in our prayers?
I’d suggest picking something you love in nature, and think about all the scientists who do research in that area, all the people who are involved in taking care of that part of God’s creation, all the policy makers who make decisions that have an impact on that part of nature, and all the ordinary people whose decisions have an effect on that part of nature you love. Pray for those people and for God’s continued sustenance and care of the beautiful earth, for their work for justice and peace for all of God’s people and creatures.
To deepen prayers for creation care, I suggest reading Psalm 103 and 104, and then praying the words to both psalms. They can be read as a pair, each reflecting one of God’s major roles in human history.
Psalm 103 focuses on God the Redeemer, and if you confess your sins about anything, including not caring for creation as well as you should, you’ll find joy and assurance from God in the words of Psalm 103. If you read it, notice how many nature analogies are used to make the points in the psalm.
Psalm 104 focuses on the way that God sustains the plants and animals. And humans! I find it delightful.
The Bible ends with a picture of the healing power of nature.
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:1-2). Creator God, we rejoice in the beauty of all that you have made. Teach us to praise you alongside your creation, and help us learn to pray for justice and peace for your people and all of your creation. Thank you for the many ways your creation brings healing to the nations. Bring more healing, we pray. Amen.
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