Archive for the ‘Spirituality’ Category

One of my D.Min. colleagues did a project with a mandala he designed and then painted with gouache paint.  It’s really nice, and it inspired me to sit down and do some playing around with mandalas myself.  I’ve always used them for quilt designs before.  Here’s one I made up several years ago.  It’s somewhere between 50 and 60 inches in diameter.

The mandala I drew Saturday night is only 6 inches in diameter.  That’s a huge difference.  But then the medium is different, too.  What you can do with fabric is TOTALLY different from what you can do with paint.  But, the interesting thing is that they are equally intricate.

Using the gouache I’ve laid in the first color which is a very lovely primary blue.  I’m going to be using a palette of hues between yellow and blue on the color wheel.  And there will probably be a touch of red, as well.  Here’s the first layer:



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Blog writing has been on the back burner for a couple of months now as I’ve been working on the projects and papers for my last two D.Min. courses.  My goal is to complete my Theological Aesthetics paper tomorrow.  That’s a big goal because I still have about half of a 15 to 20 page paper to write.

I’ve completed the art project and process paper for Art as Worship, Worship as Art.  It’s taken just about a month to execute this piece, but it’s now properly posted and sent out for my colleagues to comment on, so I think I can post it here now.

I was originally going to do something in textile arts, specifically a baptismal stole, to fulfill the requirement for a piece of art for use in personal and/or corporate worship.  But then I thought I really ought to do something that would stretch me more.  Since I really enjoyed working on The Way of the Cross, I decided to do something in acrylics again.  This time, however, I wanted lots of color.

We had been looking at triptychs during the class and I thought it might be fun to try making one myself.  A triptych is an art piece on three panels, often carved wood or painted, usually hinged, so it can be hung or stood on its own as an altarpiece.

I based my triptych on my favorite biblical passage, Isaiah 43, using verses 1b-2:

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.


I made the triptych so it could be free-standing on a worship table and be viewed from all sides.  The front depicts verse 2 and has verse 1b painted in metallic gold in Hebrew across the lower portions.


The colors of the waters and flames swirl together around a central spiral of verse 2 in Hebrew on the back


and move around to create a smaller spiral as the triptych closes.  

I happened to be working on this piece as word was coming in about the loss of Air France flight 447 from Brazil to Paris.  It became an appropriate way to pray for the victims and to reflect upon God’s presence in the midst of the tragedies of our lives.  

The finished triptych is 24 inches high by 32 inches wide; acrylic on wood.  

This is an original piece of art.  Please do not copy or post pictures anywhere without my written permission.

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Here’s another of my mandala drawings from 2001.  Even though it doesn’t look at all like a traditional mandala, it still feels as compelling for me as when I first drew it.  I have usually written a little something about each of the mandalas after drawing them, and it was interesting to see where I was when I drew this one and the meaning I saw in it. 

While I’ll not share that here — it’s too long — it’s interesting to note that Carl Jung used mandalas in his psychological theory.



Incidentally, we have a bird (a starling) in our chimney/fireplace and are having trouble getting it out.  Any ideas?  Our dog thinks it’s pretty interesting, but that’s of no help at all.

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For many years I have played off and on with mandala drawings.  I first began doing them after taking a quilt design class in Seattle based on Katie Pasquini’s technique using the concept of mandala.  I then began to explore the concept of mandala further and have often used them when leading retreats and in my own journaling.  

I don’t usually follow the standard concepts of mandala with regard to a depiction of the cosmos, but use the limitation of a circle and, in most cases, repetition around the center.  Although I don’t always do that, either.   

After completing my Way of the Cross series I decided to pull out some of my old mandala drawings and think about how I might begin to use them to create some acrylic and/or mixed media pieces.  I have to do some searching in old journals and files to find most of them, but I did easily find a few that I early in 2001 that I’m looking at for possibilities right now.  

I can’t do much until after I finish the current round of D.Min. reading and writing, but I thought pulling some out and posting them might get me inspired to work with some earlier mandalas and perhaps create some new ones.

This one is from February 2001.  While I often color my mandala drawing with colored pencils, or in a few cases with watercolor.  The 2001 drawings are all in black and white.


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On March 29 my church joined with my husband’s church for a shared worship service.  We closed the doors on my church and traveled across town (it’s less than a mile) to his for a morning that began with breakfast, moved to an intergenerational Sunday school and into worship.

We wanted to do something during Sunday school that would get people of all ages working and talking together so I used an activity I originally designed for our district clergy meeting.  That meeting got snowed out, but we’ll be doing the activity in May.

I adjusted the project somewhat to make it a little simpler for the shorter time frame and multi-age make up of this group.

We read some of the scripture lessons for the day and then gave people black rectangles of paper.  They were to depict in some way something from one of the scriptures using colored paper.  But, they could only tear the paper.  The colored pieces would then be glued to the black and the black rectangles would be placed into the framework of two “windows” I had drawn on long sheets of paper.

We would then use the “stained glass windows” we created as banners for our worship.

I had never attempted anything like this before, and didn’t know how it would work.  But I do know that you can hardly ever fail when you’re putting color on top of black.

The “windows” turned out even better than I expected, and they made great banners.  We now have one hanging at each church, representative of our special worship and the way in which we all worked together to interpret the scriptures.



Each “window” is 30 inches wide and 7 feet long.  Each small “window” is half of a 9″x12″ sheet of paper.    

We intentionally left some spaces blank for people who were missing that day, to indicate that everyone’s story is important to the whole.

I’ll be using a slightly different theme with the clergy, and they will get more time and larger rectangles of paper to build a larger triptych “window”.  I’m expecting it to be even more exciting.

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It is a relief to have the physical part of my project for Creativity and Spirituality completed.  Now I need to write up my process paper to turn in with the artwork to my professor.  I’ll also be putting a presentation together on the theological significance of the work for my class in Aesthetics that is coming up in May.    

Here’s a picture of the entire set.  I had a hard time finding somewhere to lay it out to get a really good picture, and this is not the way I would display it for viewing.  Ideally I would hang or set the pieces around a large space where each could be viewed individually, while still being in the context of the entire series.


Besides reading Megan McKenna’s “The New Stations of the Cross” while working on this project, I also read Henri Nouwen’s “Walk With Jesus” on Good Friday for another perspective on the stations of the cross.  I recommend both books.  

Now, besides getting the process paper written I’m focusing on readings for my next classes. Right now I’m reading about the use of music in Christianity in Jeremy S. Begbie’s book, “Resounding Truth“.  It’s quite interesting.  I am worried, though, about whether I’ll be able to get all nine books read and papers written on each–three are read and one paper written so far–before my classes in May.  

Right now I’m pretty much exhausted from Lent and Easter, and the task seems pretty daunting.

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I have been showing my collage interpretation of The Way of the Cross March 29 through April 12.  

One piece has been shown each day along with the scripture passage or passages that go with it.  This is the project I am completing for my Creativity and Spirituality Doctor of Ministry Class at Wesley Theological Seminary.  

Please do not copy or post these images in any other place without my permission.  

The choice of scripture passages and translations are from Megan McKenna’s The New Stations of the Cross, based on a revision of the traditional stations of the cross by Pope John Paul II in 1991.

A few people have asked for a little more explanation about the symbolism in these pieces.  You can find a brief explanation here.

Easter Resurrection


Luke 24:1-3

On the first day of the week, at dawn, the women came to the tomb bringing the spices they had prepared.  They found the stone rolled back from the tomb, but when they entered the tomb, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

Revelation 5:12; 7:9-10, 13-14

This is the new hymn they sang:  “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, honor and glory and praise!”

After this I saw before me a huge crowd which no one could count from every nation and race, people and tongue.  They stood before the throne of the Lamb, dressed in long white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.  They cried out in a loud voice, “Salvation is from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb!” . . . Then one of the elders asked me, “Who are these people all dressed in white?  And where have they come from?”  I said to him, “Sir, you should know better than I.”  He then told me, ” These are the ones who have survived the great period of trial; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”






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