Manna (and a giveaway)

The poplars are yellowing and turning brown around the edges. Soon the rest of the trees will follow suit. Chaucer is credited with saying, “Time and tide wait for no man” but I’m sure he must have been paraphrasing the wind. How long has mankind lamented the quick passing of the seasons? Moments disappear so rapidly these days that I celebrate the tiniest of accomplishments.

When we were in New Orleans on our family vacation back in July, Jeffrey wanted to go to The Museum of Death. I know, right? Morbid. He’s always had a curious mind and since we encourage him to stay curious, his dad and I consented. We walked our two sons up to Dauphine Street where the museum was but declined to participate in the tour. As Jeff and I strolled back to the hotel, we passed a little gallery. All the colorful paintings caught my eye and as I window-shopped, I noticed some movement behind the locked door. Before I knew it, a Boston Terrier approached the glass front where we stood gawking and tilted his head to the side, questioning our interest in his space.

Well, you know how I feel about Boston Terriers.

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Enough said.

We did what we call “Scooby talk” extensively to this gentle sir through the glass. Finally, his owners came into the room and unlocked the door so we could make over their boy in person. His name was Tyson and he was a rescue dog. He was recovering from a terrible case of heartworm disease, but he seemed healthy and happy during out little visit. Long story short, his daddy was the artist in residence of the little gallery, Martin Welch. We loved his work so much we ended up buying three prints and some notecards.

Since my father-in-law’s death, the prints have been sitting on the kitchen counter—waiting to find a home on our walls. I mentioned recently how I’m working on my imagination. I’ve been taking a poetry class online. I made a new friend, who is also a poet and her words have become part of my morning prayers. This song has been singing to my heart. I’ve recently dusted off my water colors. And these prints now grace my walls.

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This is the tiny accomplishment I celebrate today.

I once heard an artist say that “The purpose of art and religion are the same: Transformation.”

“Art creates space,” he said. “Effective art creates a liminal space …”

That word, “liminal?” It means “threshold.” This friend was telling me that art—beauty—creates a doorway that, when stepped into, takes us to a new place where transformation is more likely to occur. The Celts call this a “thin place.” It’s a place where the veil between heaven and earth is a thin membrane, and the holy is felt as close as a breath on the cheek.

As I listened to him talk about the ways the arts make a space for transformation, I realized how mysterious this process is. Who can name the many ways a heart might be moved? We were created in God’s image, and thus, creating is part of who we are at the deepest level.

For me, art is manna. My daily bread.

I want to celebrate that by giving away a copy of my friend Laurie’s book of poetry: Where the Sky Opens. Leave a comment by Tuesday evening, September 20st for a chance to win and I’ll announce the lucky one Wednesday morning.

Comments

  1. says

    Your word artistry creates a threshold place for me, Laura. So thank you. I always appreciate your honesty and admire your intentional pursuit of beauty and understanding. Chaucer paraphrasing the wind? I’ll be delighting in that unique, lovely thought for a while. Glad you decided against the death museum. 🙂

  2. says

    A book of poetry? Count me in. 🙂 My husband visited the Museum of Death when we were in New Orleans. I too declined. But he was actually disappointed. Felt it was more gratuitous than interesting or educational. Wondered what your son’s impression was. 🙂

    • says

      My eldest son (who went along to appease his brother) was actually angered by some of the comments in the sign in book. He felt like people were very irresponsible in some of the things they said. The youngest, who wanted to go, acknowledged it was a bit gratuitous, but tried to tell us there was a message in there about appreciating life. Though I’m not so sure that was the primary message from what they told me. I think I would agree with your husband.

      Laurie’s book is wonderful! I think you will love it, Jill. And she is just a lovely person too.

  3. says

    Ah….yes! Such lovely words, Laura. Mystery. Imagination. Music (like Audrey’s — and on the streets of NOLA) and words (like yours) that sing and calm and reveal God’s presence. Nature that opens my eyes to the “invisible attributes” of our Creator. Art is most certainly manna — both in its creation and display. Glory!

    (Have you heard Audrey’s “O, the deep, deep love of Jesus”?)

    • says

      I have been listening to Audrey’s newest album, Inheritance, and love all her covers of the old hymns. Her voice is amazing, no? I love all the art you make, friend. The way you see and share what you see is a gift to this broken world.

  4. says

    “Working on imagination”… so many of us could stand to do more of that. “searching for “liminal space”, yes, I share this elusive and so restorative venture…and was also quite taken with your new found friend, Laurie’s contemplative word smithing. A trove of treasure shared here today. Thank you Laura!

  5. says

    Laura, what fun to glimpse part of your living space as well as contemplating all manner of manna via your post and your readers’ comments.

    I am so glad you are loving the book, and that you’re giving one away!

    I read two more chapters in your lovely book yesterday. Captivating. Tender. Drenched with grace. 🙂

  6. says

    Thank you for sharing you thin space, Laura. I, too, find great comfort in their discovery as I move through my day.

    Your placement of the Boston Terrier photos within your text is a delight!

  7. Lynn D. Morrissey says

    This is such a beautiful stream-of-attentiveness thought-meandering, Laura. I love where your beauty takes you–to that of others. The prints and the poetry are gorgeous. Your friend is quite gifted–like you–and I’m so glad you are painting words with your pen again. Your voice must be heard, your words seen. Truly. I think you are so right: The purpose of art *is* transformation, both for the artist and the observer. And each piece of art (painting, poem, essay, song) and each transformation leads to the next and the next. They never stop changing us–and all for the better. Keep writing. Keep changing me. And Laura, I maintain that poetry is a particularly potent agent for transformation, in itself. Our souls get refined and distilled by poetry. Its economy of words gets to the heart of things, I think. The book sounds sooo lovely. And how fascinating that your friend wrote such a sweet and tender praise chorus that has comforted us all.
    Love you,
    lynn

  8. says

    I agree with you, art is manna. It moves our souls, awakens our imaginations,, and reminds us of life and its memories. Our house has a number of original oil and watercolor painting we have collected over the years, here and there and often not for that much. We visited the North Eastern states in the fall and came back with a painting of fall woods. We visited Charleston.and came back with a painting of a live oak we saw on one of our walks. But our collecting started years before these trips. I remember being pregnant with our first and attending baby classes at the hospital where oil paintings of flowers and such lined the walls. My husband shocked me one night and bought two flower paintings. I wondered why. After they were hung in our apartment and I had studied them and come to know them, I began to see the value of art. They grew on me and I began to see my life would be emptier without them. And that was the beginning.

  9. says

    In these days of fall, I’m loving that word “liminal” — we’re in the threshhold between two seasons, and the beauty is just overwhelming at times. Thanks for exploring the relationship between art and religion and the notion that art creates those thin places in which we are more aware of the presence of God.

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