So you may be wondering what this photo has to do with faith and art. You may be wondering what happened to faith and art and what happened to this blog since it's been a while since anything has been posted. Well, it's here. I'm here. And here's the deal - this isn't just an "idea" anymore (I've tried to link back to specific posts or other things that explain... re-introduce... the hopes I have for this blog, the group and the idea overall.)
This whole Faith & Art thing is what I honestly feel like is God's gift to me. Not gift as in "I'm so gifted" or "my gift is my art." But gift as in God loves me so much that He decided He would plant this idea because He knew that it would bless my life in my thinking and my actions and that it has been a seriously great thing for me in that even when I'm not posting, the faith and art connection is something that is woven through just about every aspect of my life. This post started it all: Art.
Ok, so if that's the case then what happened? Why did the posts dwindle and the challenges stop? Well, for a time, I started to think maybe I wasn't personally capable of making this successful. I let myself think maybe this would serve it's purpose more as a small-group in a church setting. And let me be perfectly clear here: I knew better. A church small group was never part of what I felt like God was giving me to think about. It was always a community thing - whether the original idea of being rooted in the community of St. Bernard or somehow adapting to the suburban life God seems to have for us right now. But ultimately I ran into the same problem I addressed in this post: In which I tell it like it is. For me at least.
I felt like I had to censor myself and what I was feeling creatively in order to be church-safe and "Christian." That's not anyone's fault but mine. Remember, I knew this was never supposed to be a church group and the only reason I didn't stick with that was because I doubted whether I was capable of starting or leading something like this. So now, six months later, I'd like to say I know better and I'm totally capable. And I want to. That's where the photo from above comes in.
Yesterday I volunteered for the Springdale Vineyard's S.O.S. event. "S.O.S." stands for Summer of Service and involves 800+ high school students from all over the country going out and doing small things in great love to change the world. My volunteer role in the afternoon was as a photographer for a free block party in Lincoln Heights, where crime and poverty are a big problem. So three buses full of spaztic jr. high and sr. high students were dumped out and started setting up food tents, games, moon bounces, face painting tents. and speakers. They went door-to-door telling people about the free food and free games and prayed for anyone who would let them.
The kids who showed up were ecstatic and the adults were grateful. And it wasn't some sort of "we're here because we're so holy so we're going to bless your lives by doing this" kind of thing. Trust me, I saw it, the SOS kids and adult volunteers were just as blessed by it. You can't see that kind of poverty, watch a woman buy drugs on the street then return and ask you to pray for her or knock on a door to find a couple who hadn't eaten in three days and bring them food because the husband was too sick to walk... you can't take part in that without having it slap you in the face that you are f-ing blessed to have been lucky to win the birth lottery and many of these people haven't and that gives you the responsibility to do something to help. These kids were affected. With great power comes great responsibility, and being born into a middle-class or upper-middle-class family in the United States means you have some power, whether it seems like it or not.
So again, you're probably wondering what in the world does this have to do with art? Well, again, my afternoon role was photography and visually documenting the block party. Because of that, I was able to capture:
- images of high school kids praying with a Lincoln Heights police officer
- images of those same kids praying with an older woman who was seriously grateful that they cared
- photos of random neighborhood kids having a great time in a pick-up football game with some SOS kids and a youth leader who let them tackle him, jump on him and have him love all over them while they just got a chance to be kids in a safe environment
- seeing four obviously dedicated police officers come into a crowd of neighbors knowing a lot of the kids names and seeing the kids and adults showing obvious respect and even admiration and affection to these people who risk their lives to protect them every day
- a chance to photo-document two of the police officers dancing Soulja Boy with the neighborhood kids and the SOS kids
- capturing on film any number of other small interactions between SOS kids and Lincoln Heights residents
The result is over 100 photos of God making His presence known in Lincoln Heights on a Wednesday afternoon in June. The ability and desire to capture that is art. And I was so humbled to be able to be a part of that, to be given part of the responsibility to put on record that there are teenagers who are willing to give up a week of their summer to do something bigger than themselves while learning that having only themselves to give is a huge thing. It woke up, in me, the desire to move on with this.
A few kids asked about a necklace I was wearing which was one that I made. They wanted to know how and if they could do it and I was so irritated with myself that I hadn't posted directions online so I could tell them that of course they could do it - that was an exact moment of why I want Faith & Art online and updated regularly and accessible to everyone.
So here's the deal. This is no longer a hobby. This blog will be updated in the following manner:
- Once a week I'll be posting.
- You will be able to come here without having to buy a book or keep up with a reading schedule.
- There will be some sort of challenge or project or idea for you to take and act on.
- There is currently a Faith & Art Yahoo group that I would encourage you to join if you want to chat about anything posted during the week (you can change the settings so that you only get email once a day or once a week, etc. and you're not obligated to post anything to the group if you would rather only read what others are posting.)
- There will be a gallery on the Faith & Art group page showcasing projects you and anyone else do reglated to the challenges.
- There will also be a gallery with photos of outside projects anyone wants to show off.
- Even if you decide to joing the Yahoo group you are not obligated to ever create anything or post pictures of anything if you'd rather just hang out and see what everyone else is doing. You're not obligated to do anything if you're not comfortable doing anything in this setting.
- There will be get-togethers for anyone who's interested and those will be posted on the Faith & Art Yahoo group as well, only because I'm not comfortable asking people to post addresses or contact phone numbers or the like on an open blog like this. I will post here on the blog when those gatherings are taking place and if you are not a member of the Yahoo group you can email me for more information.
So that's it. To close, here are some more photos of the block party yesterday. I also volunteered as a pray team member last night and it was also very humbling and made me miss our YoungLife leader days. But no photos there unless Vineyard posts something. I'll let you know.