Salt & Light

LighthouseLet’s just say I dread the question, “Is there glitter?” Because it gets into everything and is difficult to clean up, I never willingly buy it. But sometimes it appears in the art cabinet at the Lighthouse through someone’s “generous” donation of unwanted art supplies. And there are a few occasions when it really enhances an art project the ladies are working on during their therapeutic art workshops. Maria’s request last Friday morning was such an occasion.

A chance encounter with a pre-schooler art activity posted on Pinterest inspired me to create a drawing of a lighthouse with waves crashing on rocks, light radiating in all directions in a cloud filled sky. The women were given bottles of Elmer’s all-purpose glue and encouraged to thickly outline the black lines – then generously sprinkle salt all over the drawing until they could no longer see any of the white glue’s shininess. That meant a lot of salt, much of it shaken off and reused. While the salted glue was still wet, the women lightly painted them with water colors which spread dramatically on the absorbent salt. The art activity was deemed “HOT” by a number of enthusiastic art-makers. The art activity was also accompanied by a brief biblically-centered, complete-the-sentence  sheet about ways they were salt and light to the world.

Someone recently underscored the importance of honoring the past while at the same time preparing for the future. That reminder invited me to consider honoring those who have been salt and light over the years, people who’ve helped prepare me in a variety of ways, some of whom I’ve never met in person.

Here are some of the “salt and light” people who’ve added glitter to my life:

Irene Scott, my sixth grade teacher, and Edna Schenk, my junior high art teacher, both of whom encouraged my artistic gifts at a crucial age.

Judy Alexandre, therapist colleague, who invited me to become a trainee/intern in her counseling program even before I began graduate school. I had no idea the magnitude of that gift until others in my program struggled finding their own placements.

Jean Cross, banner-maker, whose work inspired me every week for seven years. Every six months, or so, I’d look at her banners more closely and think I could do that. Then one day I did. The integration of art and faith have been a constant in my life since then even though I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Jean. Enjoy The Art of Jean Cross.

Elizabeth O’Connor, author of Journey Inward/Journey Outward, who asked the life-changing question “what would you do, if you could do anything in the world?” My life’s work today is an outgrowth of the answer to that question.

Dan Stevens, retired pastor, who so wonderfully modeled being a colleague in shared ministry, and who continues to model being an activist through his founding work with Waiting for Water.

Esther de Waal, whose books on Celtic spirituality opened up my ability to see the routine, ordinary, mundane things of the world “edged in Glory.”

Ben Campbell Johnson, former dean of Columbia Theological Seminary’s Spiritual Formation program, who allowed me to turn a required 10 page spiritual autobiography into a seventy page book of art, poetry and prose that forever changed my experience of God’s presence in my life. 

Tom Stephens, former youth pastor, who asked if I’d be willing to lead an arts-integrated Bible study for high school girls. His ability to invite, encourage and nurture my gifts, which are radically different than his own. had an enormous impact.  It opened the door to my love of teaching, and developing faith-based, arts-integrated workshops and curriculum. Tom continues gift-stirring as pastor of Monte Vista Presbyterian Church.

Vivian Nix Early, who, after attending a Princeton Forum on Youth Ministry workshop I presented, invited me to do a similar faith-based visual arts workshop at Buildabridge International’s Institute for Art & Transformation in Philadelphia. Also Nathan Corbett, who along with Vivian helped extended that one workshop into a nine year run as their permanent faculty person for the visual arts.  They taught be about speaking a blessing into the life of every person, every day, through the arts.

And Daryl Gillespie Rounds, who continues to invite me to Princeton Forums across the country that allow me to mentor, prepare if you will, a future generation of faith-based art-makers around the globe.

Such wonderful glittery salt and light!

If you were to list the people who’ve been salt and light in your life, who would make your glitter list? If there’s been a common “glue line” that holds these folks together, how would you describe it? What would your “salt and light” picture look like? 

Hoping to be encouraged by your “salt and light” comments.

1 comment to Salt & Light

  • Sara Blackburn

    My Glitter list would include:

    My preschool teacher who always encouraged even in discipline and took the time to figure out the whys of behavior and helped us work through our difficulties.

    Mr. Tom Finley, my 7th grade social studies teacher, who would not allow us to use the phrase “that’s strange” in referring to anything, we could only say “that’s different”. He accepted his students for who they were and challenged us to rise above expectations while requiring us to respect one another at all times. There was never any bullying in his class.

    Mr. Tim Watson, my high school choir teacher, who forced me to take a solo to contest my sophomore year. I hated him in that moment, but loved him when I received a “1” rating at the state contest. He pushed me to do more than I ever thought I could.

    My father who always accepted his tomboy daughter, no matter how dirty, scratched and torn I was. He always encouraged me to be who God wanted me to be and to do what God wanted me to do. His godly advice brought be through several times where I had lost faith in this world.

    Dorothy Moore, my grandmother, who always saw the good in things. She gave of herself until her dying day. She always encouraged me to be me and no one else. Her words still encourage me even though she has been gone from this world for 22 years.

    Chuck McCoy and Shane Wood, 2 professors from college, who challenged, inspired, and enlightened. They encouraged us to discover why we believe in the things we do. They pushed hard and never accepted less than the best. They always had time for a student in need and talked me through several crises at critical moments in my life where disaster could have taken over, but good prevailed through their counsel.

    Lynne, Dr V, Dr C and Jim from the BuildaBridge Institute, who showed me better ways to do what I love, who showed me that therapy and the arts DO go together, who showed me how to better serve the kids I work with while still taking care of my own therapeutic needs and who have continued to encourage, mentor and advise me through the several years they have known me.

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