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Pass It On

Updated: Jun 29, 2022

By Rev. Joan Kessler

A picture is worth a thousand words. Today I am going to try a spiritual practice known as Visio Divina. This is a sacred viewing of a piece or work of art. Let yourself “go” into the painting that is shared with you. I am going to give us a few moments to be with the painting: Resurrection by Gisele Bauche. Ask yourself, what is it that you notice first? Where are you drawn to? We are going to take a couple moments to look at it and then we will come together to share our questions and reflections.

As we begin this time of reflection together, I want to thank Margaret Kyle for the impetus for today’s reflection. Margaret writes a regular piece for the Season of the Spirit Sunday School curriculum that Wood Lake Books publishes called Connecting with the Art, and this piece really caught my attention this morning, but I am not going to tell you why!

[The following are the combined responses to the questions posed to the congregants of both the In-Person and the Zoom services:]

What draws you to this piece? The brushstrokes? The colours? The background or the foreground?

· Variety of colours

· Swirl of clouds

· Figure of Jesus

· Group of children / people at Jesus feet

· Sky

· Drawn to the horizon, follow the golden pathway

· Movement toward transformation

· Drawn to orange; people are orange & vibrant; green are grounded and above (blue) are more spiritual

· All the colours; all work together to create earth and heavens; colours reflected in all the layers; person looking very hesitant, looking across the water into the glow on the horizon

I notice the sky and how it is active; it is swirling…

· Like the images of the sky on the news

· It is serene but chaotic

· See swirl blending into “The One” becoming a tunnel

· See similarities with van Gogh’s Starry Night, his struggle with spiritual and mental health

· Journeys of life; swirling, turmoils and struggles of life

· Redness = joy and happiness, calming of the waters gave peace; gives three pictures of phases of life

· Want to turn picture upside down, wanted to put dark part at bottom and light at the top, saw “arrow” pointing us from. saw dark chaos at top and light coming back down to earth

I notice the solitary figure. Are they coming or going, arriving or leaving?

· Is it Jesus? Or an angel?

· Saw figure as Jesus coming towards me

· See church in centre and a little house on the right side

· Person is hesitant / frightened

· Looking across water to horizon; have to take the first step

I wonder why the artist entitled it “Resurrection”?

· When you lay the picture flat; it looks like a hurricane; danger followed by renewal

· Whirlwind, heaven… parting of the waters, like in the Elijah reading from today

If you were in the image, where would you place yourself?

· In the sky

· On the ground, beside the figure

· Don’t see self in picture

· In swirly sky, whirlwind cloud

· Riding the winds of change

· Safely on the shore,

· On the horizon, joining the above and the below

· Back in the little house on the right-hand side

From Marg’s reflection and Tom Stella’s book: In Sync With the Sacred, Out of Step With the World,

“What does it mean to be in sync with the sacred? It means stepping to the cadence of the sacred which requires a specific type of courage: the courage to be different, to stand out, to be odd and even considered a threat by those who find their identity, comfort and security in the status quo, the conventional.”

Do you agree or disagree with Stella?

· First attracted to the blue, but really like the green; that’s a conflict… I was not expecting that

· Brightness of colours and flow; we are already there, don’t have to think it through

· At first didn’t see figure…now looking it differently, now becoming a better person; more at peace with all the part of life that have made into who you are / coming out turmoil of life, coming of the waters.

I wonder about this figure in the artwork… What is their journey? Where are they going? Do they have a plan? Are they just wandering around? Does it matter? I suppose we would say “Of course, it matters… They should know where they are going and how they are going to get there and what tools and resources and skillsets they will need to get there.” Is that figure a threat to his surroundings, or are the surrounds a threat to him? Or is there a threat at all?

· The picture is the world; he is at the bus stop waiting to step-up.

Elijah is leaving his work, his prophetic ministry. We can assume from the elaborate details of being taken up to heaven in a whirlwind that he is dying. But before he departs, he passes on his cloak, his mantle symbolic of his life’s work to his young protégé, Elisha. Elisha is in denial about the whole turn of events. He doesn’t want to leave Elijah’s side and will go where Elijah goes. But Elisha can’t go where Elijah is going. He has to carry on and continue the work of calling out injustice and reminding the Israelites of their relationship to one another and to God. Elisha picks u Elijah’s mantle and bravely journeys forward into his life as God’s prophetic witness. The story we heard today of Elisha parting the Jordan River, a sign that he had indeed inherited Elijah’s spirit and legacy.

The theme of passing on and picking up the work of being in sacred community together, being the hands and feet of Christ in a world that feels very far removed from this ideal. I return to the definition from Tom Stella’s book, that to be in sync with the sacred is to step out from the conventions of the day and take a chance of saying or doing something unpopular. Maybe that is what the individual in out painting is about to do… Resurrection… From what kind of death has he been brought back to life, I wonder?

Before I leave this time of reflection this morning, I want to ask, and am curious to know, what is the mantle we want to pass on as Winfield United? Is it something to someone? What would we tell those coming after us or to the wider outside world about the things that are important to Winfield United? What is our legacy? Is it a building… a house… a spirit of love and justice and conviction? What do we want to pass on?

· Caring for others

· Community

· Hope

· Individuality

· Eating together

· Connected to creation

· Stewards if creation

· Perseverance

· Faith in a greater being

· You are always welcome, God is always with them, they are never alone

· Acceptance of everyone

· Never look down on the struggle for life

· Be hopeful; forget the darkness, find the light

· Create a world where people are valued for whoever they are, whatever they are

· Love has always lived here

It is interesting how these comments form a vision and a mission for us. These are the things we identify as being important to Winfield United. I didn’t hear any disagreement or dissention in what was said. And I didn’t hear anyone saying we are going to leave them a building or a quarter of a million-dollar budget. Or a Thrift Store even.

So, thank you all for your help this morning and for reflecting with me on this beautiful piece of art. Gisele Bauche is a Canadian artist and theologian and educator and you can Google her easily and find more information about her.

Amen, and Amen.

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