Art-making as meditation, across time and space and place
Rev. Mary Putera, 9/6/2019
Wherever you sense freedom… fly there FLY there fly There FLY THERE!!
Wherever freedom for you brings freedom for me For them, for they, for she For Black, for Brown, for Yellow, for Red Wherever you sense freedom for WE! In Unity in Diversity! FLY there! fly THERE!! FLY THERE!!! Fly there for/with me Fly there
Its funny how art that comes to us, speaks long after it has emerged through us. The art practices presencing itself among us as if The Giver’s Word were new every morning, even as the image lives long across time….
The first stanza of the poem above and the painting that brought the poem forth emerged as I spent weeks engaging heavily the struggle for full inclusion of the LGTBQ community as fully, whole, beloveds of Elohim, Creator God.
Today as I continue learning to walk an anti-racist, anti-colonialist, anti-oppression life, I heard the first stanza of this poem again. I saw this bird in flight again.
Wherever you sense freedom… fly there FLY there fly There FLY THERE!!
I remembered being held by armed guards in a Middle Eastern country airport for over an hour and this, the earlier bird from which the New Bird above was born.
The first bird was a prayer of flight for All women of the world, who are ALL formed as an expression of Elohim: Unity in diversity and bound together in our struggle for freedom of oppression from patriarchy.
I read again the meaning of Elohim, the Hebrew name for God, translated by Neil-Douglas Klotz as “unity in diversity”. And the second stanza of this poem came to be.
Wherever freedom for you brings freedom for me For them, for they, for she For Black, for Brown, for Yellow, for Red Wherever you sense freedom for WE! In Unity in Diversity! FLY there! fly THERE!! FLY THERE!!! Fly there for/with you/me/we Fly there
Truly, there is no flight towards freedom for one of us, without choosing flight that is directed towards freedom for all of us!
There are so many ways to define therapy these days. Very often in the US culture, therapy is seen and portrayed as that which is given to someone else in need of healing. The Cambridge dictionary defines therapy as: “treatment to help a person get better from effects of a disease or illness” (dictionary.cambridge.org). Embedded in this model is certainly a hierarchical dynamic and in a high shame culture, such as the US, a punitive quality extended toward those who seek help in securing their own well being.
And for many of us who practice as therapists, the work is experienced differently, as shared encounter. I believe therapy is an opportunity to foster the well being of someone in the midst of a relational encounter which may be work to bring about, but gift for everyone involved. A therapeutic encounter is one that has a healing, or good enough impact that people move forward into everyday relational life differently, more centered and sure of who they are and the gifts embedded in them in their wholeness. The therapeutic encounter is an opportunity to shed socio-cultural, political, historical, divisionary, oppressive, faulty judgments that divide the human community. It is also an opportunity to have hurts, traumas, misunderstandings, and dissonances residing within witnessed in a safe enough relationship that a person’s healing can emerge. Most importantly, therapeutic encounters are opportunity to recover the beauty of our humanity, individually and collectively, in witnessing and then moving forward from the pain that binds us.
All of us are in need of therapeutic encounters. Joan Chittister wrote:
“We must seek beauty, study beauty, surround ourselves with beauty. To revivify the soul of the world, we ourselves must become beauty”.
Therapy is opportunity for seeking beauty within and between us. May reaching towards therapy and therapeutic opportunities be known as courageous acts of seeking beauty that each one and all of us may be healed.
In peace, Mary
LMHC, MDIV, CAGS, PHD CANDIDATE
Learn more about Mary and counseling through The Journey Center of Chicago.
Opening Living God, quiet my heart and mind to be attuned to you in these moments. I check within to notice what feelings and needs are there, aware that sometimes the joy of the holiday doesn’t match the feelings within. I bring my full self to you. Speak to me and meet me where I am on this most meaningful of days.
Reflection Meet us in our own stories as you met Mary, and bring life to them. Risen Lord, we have waited for this day after the journey of this week. We have needed to get to Resurrection and Hope. Speak to us deeply through your Word.
Invitation As you read the scripture, pay close to attention to the disciples. Are you drawn to a particular one? What do you notice about them? Watch how Jesus responds to Mary. He invites her to speak her pain, to tell her story before he reveals Himself. Notice the way in which Jesus meets her where she is.
John 20:1-18 “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.”
Prayer Response Lord, My heart is bursting with the Yes of today. Even though there is still sorrow and shadows, hardships and corners of despair, they do not have the last word! Indeed they cannot. Easter is about Yes, the Great Yes that says, death and sorrow and despair are overcome. Hope becomes real and deeply felt. We know promise and presence because You live! Thank you that the light is greater than the darkness. Thank you that life is stronger than death. Thank you for the way you share our lives. Thank you for the way you bring life and Yes to us. We praise you for the unspeakable joy of living with you and the hope it brings. Amen.
I quiet myself. I breathe deeply. I seek to be present to it all.
Between Good Friday when Jesus died and Easter when He rose to life again, lies Holy Saturday when Jesus lay in the tomb. This day was filled with grief, darkness, and mourning for those who loved Him. I am struck by His experience of the depths of darkness for us, the way he entered the depths of grief with us. I breathe deeply. I seek to be present to it all.
Read the scripture through a few times. Imagine this day and what it was like for his followers as you read. Allow yourself to pause where you are drawn.
“After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.”
Opening I quiet myself. I humble myself. I breathe deeply. I am here Lord.
Reflection I listen and watch as the loving and pain filled journey Intensely unfolds before me. I walk attuned to Jesus’ journey towards the cross. What stirs within me as I encounter humanity’s shadow and my own? What stirs within me as I witness Jesus’ entering the darkness for us all? I take my time in order to genuinely see. I take my time to be present to Him As He is to me.
John 19:1-30(To read the whole account, read from John 18:1-19:42)
Read the scripture through slowly, pausing where you are drawn. Take as long as you need. Imagine you are there. As you read keep your eyes on Jesus. Listen to His words. Imagine his face as He speaks. What do you see in His eyes? Watch his actions. How does He respond? Stay focused on Him as you read. As the Holy Spirit to guide you in your prayerful reading.
“Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and striking him on the face. Pilate went out again and said to them, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.” So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.”
Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. He entered his headquarters[j] again and asked Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate therefore said to him, “Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.”
When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge’s bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, “Here is your King!” They cried out, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but the emperor.” Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.
So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth,the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.” This was to fulfill what the scripture says,
“They divided my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots.” And that is what the soldiers did. Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.
After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”
Prayer of Response Moved by all that has been given, By all that has been done, I sit in silence with Jesus. I remain with Him. I offer my heart in silence. Amen.
Opening In these sacred moments, I quiet myself. I humble myself. I lean in.
Reflection I listen and watch as the loving and pain filled journey Unfolds before me. What do I notice within me? I take my time Moved by Jesus’ great display of love.
Invitation You are invited to enter the scripture through your imagination. Ask the Spirit to guide your thoughts as you read. Read the scripture through slowly a couple of times. Take it in through your senses. Enter as an observer focusing on Jesus’ words, actions, and affect. Notice what draws you and pause there. Talk to the Lord about what stirs within you.
John 13: 1-17, 31b 35 Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But it is to fulfill the scripture, ‘The one who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ I tell you this now, before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am he.Very truly, I tell you, whoever receives one whom I send receives me; and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.”When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Prayer Response “Having loved his own Who were in the world He loved them to the end” These words never fail to move me. Your love doesn’t stop Even when you are troubled in spirit Even when you know what lies ahead Your love doesn’t stop. So invested in my freedom, my life My healing and my wholeness Your love doesn’t stop. Help me to believe in How much you love me. Help me to believe There is nothing that can keep me From your love. Let the knowledge of it Seep into my very bones And permeate all that I am. Let it set me free From my doubts and insecurities. Let me live and walk In that love. And having received it May I reflect it To all around me. Thank you gracious Savior. Thank you. Amen.
Opening Lord, I pause with you for these sacred moments. May I be ever present to you and changed through them.
Reflection As I journey through Holy Week now, I am aware of what is to unfold. So I pay attention, listening, watching, waiting, witnessing. Deepen this journey within me.
Invitation Read the scripture slowly through a couple of times. Notice where you are drawn and pause there. What is stirred with you? Share it with the Lord.
Philippians 2: 5-11 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name,so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Prayer of Response Jesus, I am Moved Awed Humbled In wonder by your extraordinary gift Moved Awed Humbled In wonder seeking your forgiveness and transformation I offer myself to you in love and gratitude Amen.
Opening Lord, in the stillness of these moments quiet my heart that I may be more present to you. Help me to draw near, to attune my ear to you, and to lean in close. Prepare my heart Oh Lord to hear you.
Reflection As we journey through these closing Lenten days now, we do so ever so slowly, purposefully. We walk attuned to the Lord’s journey into Jerusalem knowing it leads towards the cross We hear the shouts of praise from the crowd Knowing soon they will be shouts for him to die. Where does our praise ring empty? Where does our faithfulness fall short? We look with honesty, not to beat ourselves up, but to seek forgiveness and wholeness. We listen for God’s invitation to us said with love.
Invitation Read the scripture slowly through a couple of times. Notice where you are drawn and pause there. What is the Lord saying to you.
Luke 19:28-40 And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’” So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”
Prayer of Response Music and Lyrics of the song Broken Hallelujah, by The Afters
I can barely stand right now Everything is crashing down And I wonder where you are
I try to find the words to pray I don’t always know what to say But you’re the one who can hear my heart
Even though I don’t know what your plan is I know you make beauty from these ashes
I’ve seen joy and I’ve seen pain And on my knees I call your name Here’s my broken hallelujah With nothing left to hold onto I raise these empty hands to you Here’s my broken Here’s my broken hallelujah Hallelujah, hallelujah Here’s my broken hallelujah
You know the things that have brought me here You know the story of every tear ‘Cause you’ve been here from the very start
Even though I don’t know what your plan is I know you make beauty from these ashes
I’ve seen joy and I’ve seen pain And on my knees I call your name Here’s my broken hallelujah With nothing left to hold onto I raise these empty hands to You Here’s my broken Here’s my broken hallelujah Hallelujah, hallelujah Here’s my broken hallelujah
When all is taken away Don’t let my heart be changed Let me always sing hallelujah When I feel afraid, Don’t let my hope be erased Let me always sing Let me always sing
Hallelujah, hallelujah Hallelujah (I will always sing) Hallelujah (I will always sing) Hallelujah (here’s my broken hallelujah) Here’s my broken Hallelujah (I will always sing) Hallelujah (I will always sing) Hallelujah (here’s my broken hallelujah) Here’s my broken Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah
Lord, as I sit here with you, I am mindful of the gift that it is. Help me to more fully drink it in.
As we journey through Lent, we do so slowly, purposefully. May our senses be awakened as we mindfully walk towards the cross and then the empty tomb attuned to the Lord’s voice.
What do we hear on the way when we encounter brokenness within ourselves and others in the gospel story?
We pause to notice and to contemplate, to do as Walter Burghardt SJ writes, “to take a long, loving look at the real.”
We take our time in order to genuinely see.
We do this mindful of God’s unconditional love for us.
We look with honesty, not to beat ourselves up, but to seek forgiveness and wholeness.
We listen for God’s invitation to us said with love.
In these moments you are invited to enter the scripture through your imagination. This is right before the Passover, shortly before Jesus’ death. Read the passage slowly and prayerfully. Enter as an observer and let the story unfold before you. Are you drawn to a particular person in this story? How does their story touch yours? Notice what draws you and pause there. Talk to the Lord about what stirs you within.
“Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said,“Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?”(He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.)Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”
Prayer of Response
Jesus, your friends seem like they couldn’t get enough of you Each one seemed to drink you in Being moved by you they expressed their love in joining you at table, serving you well anointing you with the best they had I wonder Lord in these moments if these friends were not a balm to your heart even as the perfume was to your feet? It makes me wonder Lord, what can I offer you to show my love my support my attentiveness to you too? Show me dear One. Help me to drink you in deeply too As I stand before you I offer you my heart I pour out my love to you hoping it is a balm to your heart too. I love you You who have graced my life with so much. I love you.
Opening Lord, as I sit here with you, quiet my heart and mind. In the stillness, stir in me a deeper sense of your love that invites me to come as I am with all that I bring. As we reflect together, may your unconditional welcome open my heart to you and may I rest there.
Reflection As we journey through Lent, we do so slowly, purposefully. May our senses be awakened as we mindfully walk towards the cross and then the empty tomb attuned to the Lord’s voice.What do we hear on the way when we encounter brokenness within ourselves and others in the gospel story? We pause to notice and to contemplate, to do as Walter Burghardt SJ writes, “to take a long, loving look at the real.” We take our time in order to genuinely see. We do this mindful of God’s unconditional love for us. We look with honesty, not to beat ourselves up, but to seek forgiveness and wholeness. We listen for God’s invitation to us said with love.
Invitation As you read the scripture below, you are invited to read it slowly and prayerfully. As you read notice who in this parable you are you drawn towards. How do they touch your own story? What is your need or longing as you read?
“Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons.The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living.When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need.So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs.He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything.But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger!I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you;I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.
“Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him.But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends.But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”
Prayer of Response Loving Parent, I am aware You see me and know me as I am with all that I struggle with and all the ways I get it wrong And yet You see me not as damaged goods But as one you deeply love You give me freedom Even when it hurts me Yet you don’t stop loving waiting longing for me to enter your loving embrace once again to rest in your presence as your beloved son and daughter to see myself to live as your beloved one created in your image knowing I carry you within. Thank you loving parent Thank you. Amen