If you look around in galleries or online at 21st century visual work, you will find a lot of chaos and disassembling, a lot of broken line and seeming randomness. Some of it is strikingly beautiful. And this work is concurrent with some very interesting science called chaos theory which is seeking to understand any patterns in very complex, sensitive and interdependent systems. My small piece here is one example, done with watercolor, ink and gravity. I have paired it with a Dickinson poem, #217:
“Savior! I’ve no one else to tell—
And so I trouble thee.
I am the one forgot thee so—
Dost thou remember me?
Nor, for myself, I came so far—
That were the little load—
I brought thee the imperial Heart
I had not strength to hold—
The Heart I carried in my own—
Til mine too heavy grew—
Yet—strangest—heavier since it went—
Is it too large for you?
Last night on Skype, one of my daughters and I continued our own simple investigation into the ancient words in the Psalms. We are doing this because we both need it. We are like sheep who need to be laid down and fed. It is so noisy “out there”, so many lies, so many distractions in the seeming randomness, and each of us is vulnerable. If you think you are not vulnerable, you are already dumbed into captivity. We are like the girl in the prayer meeting who ran to answer the interruption at the door. When the answer to their prayers was standing right at the gate, she could not open though she recognized his voice. She ran and told the others, and they, having just mumbled more prayers for Peter’s release, could not imagine that God was really listening, let alone had already answered. This was a group of early Jesus-followers, not much different than us. They all ended up being amazed in spite of their paltry belief.
“We are in a time.” I keep saying that to myself: we are in a time that is momentous and consequential. There is now a collision of world-views going on about which the nations’ leaders are ignorant. The lessons of history are being ignored, the warnings of Jesus have long been disregarded. The arrogance of the narrative spinners has deceived them. And the church? They are mumbling prayers, staying cloistered, and discounting any young one who comes with joy. “You are out of your mind!” the prayer group told the girl who had heard the desire of their prayers with her own ears.
After the resurrection Jesus was gentle but very direct with one of His followers who was struggling. In the face of incontrovertible evidence, Jesus still needed to say to that man “ be not unbelieving, but believing.” There is something about the will then, something about a willingness to step forward into safety with Him. “He’s still in it with us”, says Adrian Plass. And be sure you understand that there is an eternal difference between believing any other creed than the one that is only Jesus.
“A man can’t always be defending the truth; there must be a time to feed on it.” C.S. Lewis said that from hard won experience. Now is that time.