My congregation is partnering with our neighbors at the UMC church down the road for Lent, and using these Again & Again resources. Last night, Pastor Anita led a devotional time of scripture & visio divina with art created for the series. (It’ll be every Wednesday evening ’til Easter, and you are welcome to join, too.).
One of the pieces of art we reflected on was called “I Delight In You,” a digital painting with collage by Lisle Gwynn Garrity:
The way visio divina works, we are invited to sit with the work of art and notice where our eyes are drawn. What do you see? What do you notice? Can you imagine yourself inside this image? How does the image make you feel? When you pair the image with scripture (for us, last night, the story of Jesus’ baptism in Mark 1), what connections do you make? What does the image illuminate in the passage?
Try it out, if you want.
Yesterday, the sun shone uninhibited in a way that it hasn’t been able to all month. The temperature climbed up to 75 degrees, and the spongy ground finally dried up a bit. I decided to take my lunch out to the lake for a beach picnic, to celebrate. But when I arrived, excited about my turkey sandwich on the sand, well…
…there was no beach.
The month of rain had caused the lake – built for this very purpose of controlling the region’s flooding – to leap over its shores and swallow up picnic tables, pavilions, parking lots, volleyball courts and playgrounds. Kids trolled the new shoreline and leapt over flooded sidewalks. Franny sniffed her way through the flotsam and jetsam. I rolled out my picnic blanket on a piece of high ground and ate my lunch in the sunshine, anyway.
I tilted my head up – just like the person in the painting – and soaked in the sun, there on a dry island nearly surrounded by flood waters. The rain is returning tomorrow, for the better part of a week, and I willed my whole self to be like a sponge, collecting as much of the warmth and encouragement and promise of spring as I could for those few moments.
The pain and grief and trauma and anger will keep coming. A friend told me this week that we should prepare ourselves for the emotional kickback once we’re through the worst of this pandemic, that when we’re no longer completely invested in survival, those responses – anger, irritation, anxiety, depression – will find the space and make themselves known, and we should get ready to welcome them and give them the necessary space.
And still, even in the midst, there are moments of sun to be soaked in, moments of gratitude to be fully expressed, signs of promise to be caught and inscribed on our hearts. We get to turn our faces to the light and receive its gift, even if we’re sitting on a tiny patch of dry ground and surrounded, still, by ever-so-slowly-receding floodwaters.
Thanks be to God.