I am not a visual artist. I am not a sculptor, painter or photographer. I do, however, appreciate the work of those whose gifts make these works accessible to the world. One of my daughters is an artist. She has patiently taken the time to teach me about background, focal point, light and other factors that enhance the depth and nature of visual art. My first informal dad/daughter lesson occurred at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. We stood arm’s length from one of Monet’s Water Lily paintings. Positioned in close proximity, my daughter invited me to observe the direction of strokes, the thickness and texture of paint, and the unique blotting of colors against background. We moved across the room—more than once—and studied the same canvas from different angles. She told me the story of Monet’s multiple visits to the same pond in order to enjoy and play with the everchanging light on water and flora. There are hundreds of pieces of art at the Metropolitan. We spent an hour staring at this one, familiar canvas. In recent years, we’ve made our way to other museums and other canvases. My love for art has continued to evolve.
My daughter’s attentiveness to the visual has helped me bring varied and deeper attention to the verbal. I love words, phrases and paragraphs the way she loves hues, shades, patterns and textures. With this in mind, I’m spending time during this sabbatical staring at the Psalms. Like fine art, they beckon our deeper attention. Unlike other biblical writings, the Psalms are not so much God’s words to us as they are our words to God. Focusing on the context, structure, patterns, stroke lines and texture of these prayer songs will no doubt reveal nuances of truth I’ve missed before—reflections of my own struggles and celebrations.
If you’d like to wander through the museum of biblical literature with me, I’m specifically studying Psalms 139, 14, 79, 91, 137, 66, 119, 65 and 145. These will be the texts of my sermons throughout Fall 2022. I’m looking forward to staring at these Psalms with you. See you soon…