Wednesday, December 5, 2012

art, beauty and advent

Christmas art by my cousin, Marion Pack
Christmas art by my cousin, Marion Pack
img-thingt’s unusual for me to feature someone else’s work in my postings. But something profound about Christmas jumped out at me this morning, and my thoughts immediately turned to some stunning artwork that I just have to share.
Yesterday, during my visit to my parents’ house for lunch, I walked by one of their bookshelves and was literally stopped in my tracks by the beauty and inventiveness of what I saw.
What caught my eye was a large display that exclusively featured Christmas cards created by my cousin, Marion Pack. Individually, these works of art are captivating; together – close to twenty examples from the past three decades – the effect is breathtaking.
COLLECTION: Each year, for as long as I can remember, a few fortunate family and friends have received the latest Christmas greeting card design by Marion. Always, without fail, the art features some kind of surprise, embedded story, new twist, clever metaphor or some other “hook” that makes the work unique and collectible.
My cousin’s paintings also hold those same qualities of imagination and meaning. In fact, if you’re at all interested in looking at more of Marion’s work, check out her art webpage at
IMG_2831GOD SPEAKS THROUGH BEAUTY: Anyway, the “something profound” about Christmas that has grabbed my imagination this morning is simply this: Advent is overwhelmingly beautiful.
By beautiful I mean in the way that music can call to the deepest places in our souls; or the effect that standing on the beach and watching the sun slide into the ocean has on our spirits; or after the fashion of the laughter of children, the cry of a newborn baby, or the sound of a breeze rustling the leaves in a glade of trees; beautiful in the same way that love, hope, peace, grace, thankfulness and joy are all beautiful.
When I began to turn this over in my mind I had just read the following passage from Luke chapter 1 (46-49), where the writer shares Mary’s reaction to the news that she is expecting Jesus.
My soul glorifies the Lord
     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
     for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
IMG_2834And my thought was, immediately, “How beautiful that Mary would respond in such a way.” But then I realized that such a response was her choice. There is an intentionality in the way that she processes the news.
Mary’s choice is to see beauty in a difficult circumstance; it is her choice to rejoice; it is a conscious decision to move forward in faith and in the context of promise.
That’s what expectation is all about. It’s the decision to move forward in promise. It’s a very beautiful spiritual truth, and it’s at the heart of the Advent experience.

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