November 8, 2019
Thanksgiving is drawing close. On its heels is the first Sunday of Advent, and then Christmas will arrive with a flourish. One news station already listed out the days remaining to each milestone in these closing months of 2019. And people begin to feel the urgency. Many stores have been displaying Christmas items for a while now, and by mid-December we will likely begin to see enticements to remember Valentine’s Day. Slowing down is difficult to do amidst such activity, and yet, slowing down is precisely what most of us would do well to do.
I have in my library a book entitled, A New England Autumn, which is mainly a collection of beautiful photographs, with a brief but engaging introduction. It is an invitation to slow down and admire the beauty of Autumn, to be touched and inspired and moved to reflection. Autumn is indeed a season that lends itself to awe and introspection.
Art in general, and poetry in particular, also offers such an invitation. We can certainly view various art mediums by rapidly walking past them, just as we can read poetry as quickly as we would read a newspaper or an online article. But we forsake their gifts to us by giving them such brief moments of attention. It is only as we slow down, as we spend time with a painting or a sculpture, that we can discern the artist’s true offerings to us. In the same way, we open ourselves to the subtle and often profound words of the poet, as we read with care, intention and an unhurried appreciation.
As we do take time to truly view works of art, as we read poetry and hear the words sing to us, we set a model for ourselves and our interactions beyond these artistic expressions. These encounters help us to learn how to better see and hear one another. And they show us how to better hear and see the presence of God in our lives.
Slowing down is a good thing. Indeed, the psalmist, as recorded in Psalm 46, verse 10, lets us know that God desires to meet us, for we hear, “Be still, and know that I am God!” (NRSV) Slowing down sets the stage for us to be still, and to then encounter God in marvelous ways.
Welcome to my website. I hope you will discover a connection to the life of small churches, and the richness that the arts can bring to these churches.