Monday, November 28, 2011

Advent Evensong and Art Show 2011: Art and the Spiritual Journey

Abbo's Alley in the Fog
Every Advent, St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Paris, KY holds an Evensong and Art Show. This event showcases two great strengths of St. Peter's: terrific music and artistic expression. The focus of past years has been Angels, but this year we've expanded out to consider Art and the Spiritual Journey. How appropriate then, that our guest speaker at the Evensong will be Dr. Everett McCorvey, professor of voice at the University of Kentucky and founder of the American Spiritual Ensemble.  The Evensong begins at 5 pm. this Sunday, December 4th, in the sanctuary of St. Peter's, 311 High Street.
       Following the Evensong, will be a reception in the Parish Hall, for the exhibit Art and the Spiritual Journey. Works of poetry and all manner of media will be on display (and there will be food, too!) Everything from needlepoint to Mother Chris's drawings and a delightful ensemble of knitted creche figures will share space with beautiful paintings, including angels and landscapes. Who knows where your spiritual journey might take you--come have a look!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Chicory and Lace

Yesterday evening during my Experimenting with Watercolor and Pastel class at the Lexington Art Academy, I was talking to a participant about the image she was painting.  It was an autumnal scene, with incredibly bright leaves of red, orange and yellow. She was dotting in the yellow leaves and I said that it was like a "thousand points of light."  My friend Celeste, whom I met more than three decades ago, didn't know what I was referring to. She partakes of news blackouts and was not familiar with this famous idea promoted by George H.W. Bush.  We had some fun with her self-imposed lack of news knowledge, but it got me to thinking. How truthful is the news? What would life be like without it? Think how much room there would be in our brains it they were not stuffed with considering whether Miley Cyrus is fat  or even believing that politics and politicians were the answer to everything. For that matter, what if we did not count on the news to tell us to take calcium supplements or that multiple vitamins will kill us off.  Drinking causes cancer! Teetotalers have heart attacks!  On and on.

       Meanwhile during the class, I encouraged students to keep in mind what attracts them to the image they are portraying.  Rather than being literal, the goal is to bring out the truth they see.  Maybe this is a truth of the heart, then again, perhaps it is more objective than that.  We all need to know how to gather information first hand; to know what is true for us.  Take a walk and look at the color of tree bark. It can be pretty surprising. Be willing to decide for yourself what you are seeing.   Being a news junkie, I don't think I could give it up as completely as Celeste has.  Yet, it is good to spend some time in our own, first hand reality. Making art provides an excellent opportunity! 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Clarity in the Sewanee Fog

Abbo's Alley in the fog
Last week, David and I drove down to Sewanee, Tennessee for his 50th Reunion at the University of the South.  Leaving Lexington, we could see a bank of clouds; a forecasted front pushing southeast.  Midway along the Bluegrass Parkway, the rain began and accompanied us all the way to Sewanee.  One of our first stops upon arriving at Sewanee was the wonderful bookstore on campus.  David and I always find terrific books at this relatively small establishment.  This time, since Barbara Brown Taylor had recently been on campus (I knew this thanks to Mo. Chris) there was a nice selection of her books and I purchased Leaving Church.  David and I took our leave from the store and noticed that the famous Sewanee fog had rolled in while we were browsing the volumes.  Looking across the campus, it was at once soft and bright, as the leaves were close to their peak in color. The foggy backdrop had a luminescent quality that did not dampen the leaf colors, but turned them into rich accents.

The next morning, alumni were welcomed to attend classes. David and I went to a second semester French class, which turned out to be an excellent review of en and y, along with the subjunctive (which I can always stand to review.)  Next, David went to a topology class and I hit the trail, walking around campus and heading to Abbo's Alley, an enchanting place, especially in the fog.  Line and color became elegantly enigmatic. So many places called out to me: Paint Me! Paint Me!

        Our schedule each day was full with reunion activities, but at the end of the day, I would enjoy relaxing with my new book. In Leaving Church, Barbara Brown Taylor paints a picture of how she came to faith and it is first and foremost grounded in the wonderful creation that we all dwell upon.  And she notes that in Celtic theology, "God's 'big book' of creation is revered alongside God's 'little book' of sacred scripture." (pg 81)  Taylor and her husband come upon a "thin place" when walking over the land that would become their home.  The idea of thin places is also Celtic. These are special places that are also part of another realm.

        On Saturday, the sun returned, just in time for the homecoming football game.  The colors were intense and brilliant; a bright blue sky beyond the vibrant orange leaves.  I walked past the same scenes and the same gracefully curved trees. A certain mystique had disappeared.  This set me to thinking: can you ever really see the same scene twice?  Are there really thin places or is every place thin and it just takes a readiness to see that makes the difference?