GarThoma

The contemplative artist

Hoarder

In that corner are boxes upon boxes of frustration.
One can’t get down the hallway for all the piles
Of resentment and hurt.

The kitchen reeks of rotting rejection and regret.

Unforgiveness so fills the basement, it’s pressing against the floor underneath.

Expectations so fill the attic, cracks are starting to form in the ceiling.

Resentment is strewn across the front yard,
Passers by turn their head in disgust.

But love turns into the driveway and makes herself at home

Working day and night, clearing out space
To make room for peace, joy, hope.

A Home for the Artist Heart (a benediction)

There is a place where your soul feels free
Where it is allowed to be vulnerable
To come out and dance and sing and play
Without judgment.

May you find that place.

There is a space where you can take risks
To draw the drawings that reside in your heart,
Where you can feel the living and breathing lines.
A place where you can fashion a map made of these
Beautiful, living lines.
May you be fearless to journey the roads the map points to.

When you find this place, your heart will be its creative best;
Free to roam the textured canvas
The white paper
The soft clay
The wood
The stone
The metal…

Whatever medium it chooses to communicate through.
And in this place you will be heard
And understood.

May you find this place.
May your artistic heart find home.

Approaching the Holy Word of God

O’ Lord, I come to your Word with a certain reverence. I don’t want to approach it as I would any other text.

I take three breaths before entering into dialog with the Holy Scriptures.

Inhale
Holy Spirit come to counsel my soul
Exhale

Inhale
Jesus open my eyes to your redemption
Exhale

Inhale
Father usher my heart into the Kingdom of the Beloved
Exhale

To Bless the Holiness of the Present Moment

A Blessing I wrote for you on this cold morning

May you find in yourself
Permission to breathe in
breathe
out,

To take in life and exhale love.

May you come to feel
The present moment
Where everything touches everything else.

To greet the beautiful with hospitality
And sit with her over coffee;
To talk about what matters.

May you find yourself where all is as it should be;
May you find yourself
holy.

The Space Between the Pause (a meditation on Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Wedding Portrait)

eyck-arnolfini-portrait-NG186-fm

In that space between the pause, before their hands clasp in agreement
Is the all seeing eye of God giving witness.

And in that eye, the artist himself, dressed in red,
Watches on and validates with a silent signature.

It is as if the man and the woman together
Hold all of space and time in the volume between;

She, so vulnerable awaits the consummation where
All the universe will be collapsed into her hand.

The sun shines in from the window onto the ripe fruit
Casting dark shadows onto the moment.

Those shadows tremble, though, in response
To the flickering candle above.

The train of the woman’s garment cascades onto the floor
Where Fidelity awaits her next command.

We, too, must remove our shoes,
For this is holy ground.

The Beauty of Holiness


“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own…” 1 Cor. 6:19

My body is the temple.
My heart is the holy of holies.

God lives in me! The creator of the universe takes up residence in me. And, not just a little part of Him; all of Him. His Spirit is Him and His Spirit lives in me.

My heart–a home for God.

Let that sink in. I am God’s house.

When I walk around doing things, I am carrying God. This earthen vessel is a container of the greatest treasure of the universe. I am a treasure chest! The universe cannot contain Him. And yet, He chooses to live in me. Amazing!

Outwardly, St. Paul says, I am wasting away. Inwardly, he continues, I am being renewed day by day.

My lack of holiness comes from the times I do not allow Him to live through me. Holiness is not about striving to make myself better for God. I do not need to grit my teeth and force some kind of holy behavior.

The more I receive the truth that God lives in me; the more I let go and allow Him to shine through, the more holiness becomes evident in my life. Holiness is beautiful when it draws attention to God.

Old Testament salvation was possible: believe in the promises of God and live an upright life. Christ came, not just to “save” me and take me to heaven when I die. He came so that through His death and resurrection, He might dwell in me in a new and living way–that He might give renew my heart, and from that renewed heart I will want to live a new life in Him; that He might be resurrected in and through me!

In Christ God is able to have a relationship with me through His Spirit dwelling in me. In Christ, God came closer than anyone can ever be: dwelling inside my heart!

All I can do; the thing I must do, is live my life in gratitude; live in such a way as to allow Him to flow through!

You Are Beheld in The Beloved

All the resources at your disposal
Keep the pain at bay.

There are so many things available
To fill the cracks in your life,

Yet the cracks are the places where
God shines through; the pain where
Lament is brought forth.

The world is the pharmacy that dispenses
Pills to temporarily cover the suffering
In your soul.

All the while, His eye is upon you.
You are beheld in the Beloved.

There is a thick wall erected by the
Medicine of the flesh.

May the Lord break this wall
And enfold you in His arms.

A Blessing for those who have lost sight of God…

“Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Jesus

May your eyes be opened to need.
The circumstances of your life mine the
Depths of your soul.

The crust of earth built up in a heap,
Rocks and dirt piled to protect you
From desire, be washed away layer by
Thick layer in the rain storms of

Broken relationships

Physical suffering

Financial need

Until the core of your heart is revealed
And cries out to the One who shaped
You from the earth and fashioned soul
From spirit.

He is the source of your longing
He the giver of desire.

May your desire be for Him.

Drawing Toward the End (a mid-life reflection)

“Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” 2 Cor. 4:16

I am dying and the
house of my life
is crumbling.

The days behind are
stacking up taller than
the days ahead.

May the remainder
of my life matter
more than the past

May the past serve as
fuel for the fire of
future intentions.

The days past have
constructed my heart
in such a way as to
bless the days ahead.

The lives that have entered
and exited from this house
have decorated the walls with
memories that paint the picture
of future days.

There are those who enter
and remain, some continue
to speak blessings that
circle around protecting
me from the storms.

Some bring darkness, and
yet they too, continue to offer
strength by virtue of my
response to them.

When I do come to the end
of my days; when the stack
of days becomes one, and this
house is a heap, may
my life have been lived in
the way intended by the
carpenter.

Christ’s life in me will not
have been lived in vain.

For I am forever a guest in HIs house.

Be Where You Are

I recently returned from a trip down south and saw friends who are living self sufficient lives, the way I want to live. I was inspired by the way they were doing things. After returning home I found that I was unhappy with my own place; my own town; my own house.

The challenge for me is to simply be where I am and not wish I was somewhere else. I go to other places and am fascinated by them because of their landscape or weather or culture and think to myself, “Why can’t I be here?” or I might think “If I were here in this place I could really do what I want to do; or be who I want to be.”

The reality is this: I am not in that place — I am in this place. Here where I am now is a gift that I must not take for granted. The fact of the matter is, no matter where I am — there I am. It is I that determines what I do and how I do it. No matter where I go I will likely still do the same things, the same way I always have. Oh, I may do things differently for awhile but soon, after the newness where off I will eventually fall back into the same old patterns and habits.

The challenge is not to go to another place in order to be different but be different where I am; to appreciate where I am and to direct my life in such a way as to live the kind of life that will enable me be anywhere and find peace, contentment and meaning. This requires the grace of God.

I realize that it was His grace that brought me to this conclusion. He does not reveal things to me and then leave me helpless. It is His grace that also empowers me to be transformed into the image of Christ who did not complain or accuse or play the victim because things didn’t work out the way He planned.

Lord, that you would enable me to, like St. Paul, learn to be content in whatever situation I find myself in. May the peace that comes from this contentment draw people to you. Amen.

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