Presence Through the Arts – Advent Retreat 2013


Registration Deadline is this week: Register here.

Let me confess. I am not an expert in the Arts. I wish I had deeper acquaintance. Some of you have far more understanding and hands on experience.

What I do have is a curious tug. One of those tugs led me to a title like “Presence Through the Arts.” I’ve followed my curiousity from one tug to another until I shaped something that that (hopefully) resembles an Advent retreat.

What makes it a retreat? I’m a “doorperson.” I welcome you into a space that is prepared for you to enter at whatever time suits you. Some of you will use the material all at once and sit with it during the week. Others will take bits and pieces and work on it over a few days. Others will take what they need to add to regular practices.

In this retreat a particular work of art will be the storyteller. I’ve chosen four works to ponder. I can tell you about the first two and show you images but we are removed from direct gazing and experiencing. The last two allow a little more direct listening and engagement. The four were chosen because I felt a “curious tug” when I came across them. I “knew” they had a story that fit within the story of Advent.

“In the beginning was the Word.” (John 1:1)
And the Word was born a Wordless child. (Unknown)
This is the mystery of Incarnation.

I find myself fascinated by what we cannot say about God. I am humbled by what I cannot write about Incarnation. So we have the Arts. Christine Volters Paintner says: “The arts are the language of the soul.” (Awakening the Creative Spirit: Bringing the Arts to Spiritual Direction.”) When art inspires it is because some deep ancient sacred yearning is touched in us.

We are born with a natural spirituality. We are born without words for it and we spend a lifetime searching for language. We have a natural creativity that blazes into being at our birth, and like an ancient peat fire, may be smoored but never extinguished.

I hope I can use words artfully enough to invite you to begin to make connections with your own innate sacred impulses and deepest desires. Each week I will offer two spiritual practices that invite attention and pause in this season of getting ready for the Mystery of Christmas.

It is such a busy time yet we have all the time we need. I trust you will take whatever moments you can to light a lamp (or candle) in whatever sanctuary of time is available to you.

Retreat begins on Saturday, November 30th.  Register here.

Janice MacLean, Conference Minister for Christian Nurture & Enrichment.