She caught me. With an outstretched arm, collecting my hand in hers, saying, “Sophia.” I paused smiling, still adjusting to my surroundings. For a moment, my mouth hung wide guarding any intelligible word from escaping. When I regained composure, I replied “Anna.” On cue, she smiled and began to explain her piece, as if for the first time.
With each pause in her telling, I simply replied, “it’s beautiful.” Her presence, so well complimented the elegance, grace, and mystery of her piece. This river frozen in time and medium fascinated me. The beauty of warm and cool lights reflected as stars or diamonds off the polished black waves.
“Are you an artist?” to which I replied, “an inspiring artist.” A guttural “hmmm” almost instantly escaped her being, as deep called to deep. In this, she welcomed my inner artist with upmost care. I imagine meeting God like this… put off by her humility, his presence, and their creation. I imagine meeting God like this… wowed with wonder and enthusiasm. I imagine meeting God like this… wooed into the ongoing narrative.
All of creation joins in moving and adapting, as we gaze with Saint Catherine, “into the gentle mirror of God.” This is the great purpose of creation to help us with change. To teach us about trans… transience, transcendence, transition, transposition, transportation, transparence, transaction, transformation, and transfiguration. As Saint Benedict wrote, “Always, we begin again.” In the changing of seasons, in the swaying of sun and moon, in a word or gesture of forgiveness, in each and every breath, newness. Everything a celebration of the now and a coming to know the transformation that the next moment, next breathe, next job, next lover, next sunset, next birth, and next death carries. This is creation asking us to notice, to feel, to think, to question, to remember, so to better dance into the beauty of our being.
Spanning all of time and space, creation is God’s ongoing collaborative work. Singing with Mumford and Sons, “Awake my soul. You were made to meet your maker.” How do we meet, you ask? This story begins in every shade and in between, arriving as an invitation to join in the process of being and becoming. Every moment, like great theater, meant to “reinvigorate us to become a different kind of person than we were an hour ago” (Micah Bucey).
We are creators meant to give voice to the inexplicable, the weird, and the strange. The church is meant to be this sort of gathering… a people thrusting paradox, doubt, transformation, and delusion into plain sight. The church is meant to be collective of explorers, wonderers, and cynics, experimenting together. Welcome sinner and saint, forgotten and famous, one and all. Welcome established artists and those who do not consider themselves as such. Welcome kings and queens, gays and lesbians, trans* and gender fluid alike. Welcome every color, style, and situation. Welcome to the banquet of the unlikely, to the wedding of humanity and divinity. Welcome to an exploration of polarities and similarities. Welcome to our unity.
Like Nadia Boltz Weber, we too give the disclaimer that at some point we will disappoint you, if we have not already. Welcome anyway. Know that we identify as art and artists in process. We know more of the menial than the grand. We are learning to be content in the preparation of the scaffolding, the mixing of colours, the collecting and discarding of materials and vision. At one time being an artist seemed like a glorious affair, a romantic and courageous endeavor to the imagination, but now we know creation is just as much preparation and diligence, as time spent with wet brushes of brights and darks.
In whisper and shout, we wrestle to find our place, our center, and our best self. In the wielding of matter we find our homecoming. The queer community exemplifies this, challenging the normative, breaking down boundaries, and exposing a fuller picture. Ours is an often-agonizing emergence, through battles of material and mind. The art of our lives is like that of Ushio Shinohara, a boxing match between painter and canvas.
To this I say, Queer creators may we smile often as explain our process. May we treat each other as honored guests and with prayerful preparation set the table and arrange the bouquet. May we toast with glasses held high in celebration of the feast we are to partake in. Here, we commune with friends and strangers alike, at the table of hospitality, a place where love is celebrated and poured out with unmerited extravagance. My friends, may we like the sinful woman lavishly anoint the unity of humanity and divinity in each other. May we find like Rumi that “there are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” My friends here’s to creation, collaboration, and unity. May these bind us, one and all.
written for the queer theology synchroblog 2013