I think grace is a tricky word. I’ve read about it, experienced it, and heard the testimonials. It is a
deep transforming kindness that is given often when I least deserve it. There’s always this
tension between the way I think it should look and the way it actually comes to me. Kathleen
Norris said, “grace is not gentle or made-to-order. It often comes disguised as loss, or failure, or
unwelcome change.” Whether it be through a passage from scripture or observations in everyday
life, I seek to see the beauty in this leaky apparatus called life.
Often I show people on a journey. Sometimes my subjects’ hands are open, offering something of
themselves to the world. This is what keeps me coming back to the studio, capturing these small
acts of kindness that quietly begin to illuminate everything.
I work with cut paper and paint because I enjoy the interplay of the known and unknown. For the
known, I work out many variations of a sketch until the design I'm looking for is finally realized.
The unknown comes from my files full of patterns and objects waiting to find a new home. I am
repeatedly fascinated when I find that some odd cut-out works better than my original intention.
Miss Havisham, from Dickens’ novel, “Great Expectations,” receives a letter at 8:40 am on her wedding day saying her soon-to-be husband decided to cancel the marriage. At that point she stopped all the clocks at the very moment the letter arrived. She spent the rest of her life in her wedding gown, wearing only one shoe because she hadn't put the other one on when the news came. That moment defined the rest of her life; everything in her universe stood still.
I’m thankful for the village of people who have helped me walk through painful moments in my past and present in a healthy manner. They were instrumental in my journey from 8:40 to 8:41. My heart still has areas where I have yet to move forward though. Years go by when I might only move a second closer to my goal; but as painstakingly slow as it is, I’ll take it.
On a global scale it’s easy to think that everything is stuck at 8:40. Where are we on the timeline of racial, gender, and economic equality? How about climate change, poverty, the refugee crisis, mental health and a thousand other examples?
I am grateful for the millions of people who have moved the clock seconds closer to 8:41: from Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi, to those behind the scenes serving their communities in a myriad of ways through their grass roots grace. May our lives thirst for making all things right.
“8:41” gives a glimpse of how God’s grace can strengthen us to see “the powers of this dark world” more clearly and stand against them. That clarity enables us to respond with a tangible hope that is, as Robert Hayden says, “Not frightened or cajoled into accepting evil as deliverance from evil. We must go on struggling to be human, though monsters of abstraction police and threaten us.”
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