The week leading up to New Years day, greg and I were able to retreat with some dear friends at Mepkin Abbey - a Trappist monestary in SC. The 5 days were full of prayer, quietude, rest, and some art-making.
The landscape is breathtaking -- most notably, the beautiful Live Oaks which have been growing on the property for hundreds of years. Their branches twist and bend and are are teeming with ferns and foliage. They are covered in Spanish moss, which gently sways in the wind, animating their beautiful old souls. It is as if they bow down in Holy reverence, One in Spirit with the Monks.
Here are a few pieces I did while I was there. Through the creation of these paintings, I was ushered into deep Wonder and Fullness, although the paintings themselves don’t do justice to the remarkable beauty of Creation. The trees that grew by the water would bend towards the life source, dipping their branches below the water’s surface. These became a picture to me of God’s people in Psalm 1– those who delight in the law of the Lord and who and meditates on His commandments day and night -- “They are like trees planted by streams of water, bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that do not wither; everything they do shall prosper.” One of these is also an illustration of Psalm 131, painted from a statue of Mary and Jesus that stood in one if the gardens.
I was able to receive spiritual direction from one of the Monks and guestmaster there, Father Guerric. He suggested I read The Artist’s Rule - a book which draws on the insights and practices of Benedictine spirituality to explore the interplay between contemplation and spirituality. Over the course of 12 weeks, I will be journeying through this book, applying it to my creative practices, and sharing it with you all. I just finished the intro and wanted to share a quote -- I hope it encourages and draws you into an expression of creativity in prayer today.
Art can reconnect us with our childlike sense of wonder. When we engage art as prayer, we can remember that play is also an act of prayer, praising God out of sheer delight. We can learn to take ourselves- our art and our spirituality- a little less seriously
- Christine Valters Painter