Lenten Disciplines like a Walk in the Woods

A quiet walk in an old growth forest offers a place of refuge and retreat from the bustle and pace of modern urban life. We need time in such places–set aside, left alone, undeveloped–to restore our physical and emotional life.

The same can be said for the promise of spiritual disciplines (such as fasting, solitude, and scripture meditation) as practiced during the season of Lent (or at any other time). They serve as places to listen quietly for the Word and the Spirit of God, to restore our souls, and to recalibrate the connections between our emotional, our intellectual, and our physical lives.

Trying to find those connections without the space offered by the disciplines is like trying to listen to a long lost friend on the phone while sitting in a noisy nightclub, or standing on the floor of the stock exchange, or doing the wave in a crowded stadium. Under such conditions we may not hear the message at all. In the midst of our busy lives, apart from places of refuge and discipline, we can become like the impoverished child of which C. S. Lewis spoke: content to sit in the gutter with our mud pies yet unable to grasp what is being offered with an invitation to the beach.

For the early church fathers and mothers, this was at least in part the logic of (as it may seem to us) their strange practices of curtailing food and sleep. They were aiming at something better: to cleanse the palate, to clear the mind, to recover God’s image given originally in creation, revealed again in the life of Jesus. Leaving off all of the extra things allowed them to rediscover the taste of spring water.

The painting featured in this post is entitled Generations. For more information on this painting, and other paintings in the series, go to the Landscape gallery of my art work at Fine Art America.

An Opening Invitation

Welcome to my forum for discussions of faith and the arts. I am an artist (watercolorist, musician, writer) and a theologian (Christian), and I am interested in the relevance of each of these “fields” for each other, and for the expression and exploration of the Christian faith as expressed in its classical and biblical sources.  In coming days I plan to post a variety of articles on the far-reaching and wide-ranging implications of this subject. I hope you will let me know if any of these thoughts are helpful to you, or if you have suggestions for how to explore a topic with better insight. I welcome your comments and responses. For now I must get used to working in WordPress. See you soon, I hope!

The art work included in this post is titled, “Past and Present.” The subject is a group of Iris blossoms that grow in the cemetery at Glen Cove, Texas, where many members of my family are buried. For more information on this and other of my art works see my galleries at Fine Art America.