Thursday, May 28, 2015

Encounters with Silence, Karl Rahner

Yes, School is over for the Summer...which means that I can get caught up on some blogging! Here are some favorite quotes from contemplative Karl Rahner as found in his book, Encounters with Silence.

           But when I love You, when I manage to break out of the narrow circle of self and leave behind the restless agony of unanswered questions, when my blinded eyes no longer look merely from afar and from the outside upon Your unapproachable brightness, and much more when You Yourself, O Incomprehensible One, have become through love the inmost center of my life, then I can bury myself entirely in You, O mysterious God, and with myself all my questions.                            p.9

           Grant, O Infinite God, that I may ever cling fast to Jesus Christ, my Lord. Let His heart reveal to me how You are disposed toward me. I shall look upon His heart when I desire to know Who You are. The eye of my mind is blinded whenever it looks only at Your Infinity, in which You are totally present in each and every aspect at once. Then I am surrounded by the darkness of Your unboundedness, which is harsher than all my earthly nights. But instead I shall gaze upon His human heart, O God of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and then shall be sure that You love me.                        p.17

           Thanks to Your mercy, O Infinite God, I know something about You not only through concepts and words, but through experience. I have actually known You through living contact; I have met You in joy and suffering. For You are the first and the last experience of my life. Yes, really You Yourself, not just a concept of You, not just the name which we ourselves have given You!

            You have seized me; I have not “grasped” You. You have transformed my being right down to its very last roots and made me a sharer in Your own Being and Life. You have given me Yourself, not just a distane, fuzzy report of Yourself in human words. And that’s why I can never forget You, because You have become the very center of my being.                                                            p.30-31                                                                                      
The Problem of God’s Silence
That must be the way it is, since You are the last answer, even though incomprehensible, to all the questions of my heart. I know why You are silent: Your silence is the framework of my faith, the boundless space where my love finds the strength to believe in Your love.
            If it were all perfectly evident to me here on earth, if You love of me were so manifest that I could ask no more anxious questions about it, if You had made absolutely crystal clear the most important thing about me, namely, that I am someone loved by You, how then could I prove the daring courage and fidelity of my love? How could I even have such love? How could I lift myself up in the ecstasy of faith and charity, and transport myself out of this world into Your world, into Your Heart?
            Your love has hidden itself in silence, so that my love can reveal itself in faith. You have left me, so that I can discover You. If You were with me, then in my search for You I should always discover only myself. But I must go out of myself, if I am to find You – and find You there, where You can be Yourself.                                                                                                                    p.56

The Struggle with Being an Imperfect Witness
And that is precisely the burden of my life. For look, Lord: even when I announce Your pure truth, I’m still preaching my own narrowness and mediocrity along with it. I’m still presenting myself, the "average man”. How can I bring my hearers to distinguish between You and me in the frightful mixture of You and me that I call my sermon? How can I reach then to take Your word to their heart, and forget me, the preacher?
I want to be a transmitter of your light, and to do so, I must nourish it with the oil of my life. And yet I can’t avoid placing myself before the lantern, coming between Your light and the searching eyes of my fellow men. I seem to be good for nothing at all but making the already dark shadows of this world even darker and longer.
…Any grace that goes out from me is Your grace. Whatever of mine goes out of me is nothing, only a hindrance or, at best, a means You employ to test my fellow men, to see whether their instinctive love can recognize You, even when You disguise Yourself, almost beyond all recognition, by appearing to them in me.                                                                                                        p.74

My personal note: I'm sharing these thoughts as a Christian artist because the life of any artist is an interior one. Dealing with self is a must. Distinguishing between soul and ego is essential (which comes from another book by Steven Pressfield...which I will share about in a future post); or as the Bible puts it: between spirit and flesh. If things are not right internally, or if one's relationship with God is unstable, then the creative process is hindered. 
Spiritual darkness, God's silence, or His elusiveness have to be understood in the language of faith. Because art comes from inside, the Christian artist is a preacher; a witness to the message matter how simple or complex that message might be (eg, "The sky is beautiful", etc.). Not every Christian, or artist for that matter, struggles with the internal world, but those artists who do are being called to a prophetic life. And it's a dangerous journey...even spiritually deadly.

Monday, May 25, 2015

End of the School Year

 Well, I had to set aside any major art production while making it through this first year of teaching full time. This piece was an old "unfinished" abstraction left over from my Paducah days.
 This will be one of the last large panels on which I'll be working. It was an attempt to revive a "water current" series from quite a while back.

However, this piece represents my new direction: simple "excavation" series (multiple layers of plaster, tempera paint, and dyes built up and sanded down) with layers of epoxy resin poured over the top. Each layer of resin has images and artifacts imbedded into it. I've tried to print on tissue paper to create a transparent or translucent fiber that disappears into the resin. Also, the dried resin layer readily accepts acrylic paint.

The only downside is trapped air bubbles released from small objects. Sweeping the surface with a propane torch has to be done a few times while the resin is settling in order to eliminate those air bubbles.