My life is full of a lot of very good things right now. After I count down from my husband and three vibrant children, there is an elementary school musical, my writing (that is just humming along), and my job. I count myself fortunate that I get to call my job, my ministry, too, and the stellar team of people who are my coworkers, my close friends.
You can find one of my coworker’s blog at aslanslibrary.wordpress.com. (Sarah, can you see me?)
She’s rather brilliant and we share an ambition for creating new beautiful things. If we can’t find something we like our mantra is “write our own”! Over Christmas we created our own Jesse Tree devotional. She wrote the words and I drew the icons to go on the twenty-four paper ornaments leading up to Christmas.
For Lent we are working on a prayer booklet. Praying together as a church, everything we do tries to cover the broad range between families and singles, children and adults. For adults, the booklet alone, for families we printed the prayers on dark purple strips of paper for children to make chains with over the forty days.
The cover of the prayer booklet has been a conundrum. I had contacted a friend that has some amazing stations of the cross prints, but he couldn’t scan them in time. Words alone would work. It would be fine. But I love images. And I had already staunchly stated that I would NOT be doing any artwork for it.
But, as I was proofreading our Children’s Ministry newsletter, I read Sarah’s beautiful words:
“Many of us find prayer difficult or downright discouraging: are we doing it right? How do you find time, anyway? It doesn’t feel like anything is happening! My children are wiggling, I’m distracted, and honestly it feels more productive to get up and empty the dishwasher. And yet: it is in prayer — the messy, uncomfortable, imperfect spaces we carve out and share with God — that the Creator of the universe settles in close and breathes new life into us. When we pray, we remember again that we are creatures, dependent on the one who made us. Prayer is the fertile ground out of which all of our action grows.”
Perhaps it was the word “carve” or the image of “fertile ground”, at any rate, I began to consider this print. I drew it over and over until I understood it. And then I managed to find a couple of hours in this crazy long weekend to carve it out.
Here is “Cultivation”. It is six layers of soil, like the six Sundays of Lent, laid out on top of each other in preparation for the new life of Eastertide. It is also the desert of Jesus’ forty days of prayer (see the five stones?) before the action of ministry. Together in Lent we will journey with Jesus to Jerusalem (see Jerusalem up there in the corner?) accompanying God’s “upside-down king — who says NO to power and glory, who helps lost people find their way home, who surrounds himself with people who are humble and unimportant” (more of Sarah’s words!) to claim a cross that looks nothing like the throne we would want or expect.