A Christmas Prayer

My latest column in the Christian Courier is a prayer for Christmas.
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Praise to you, O living Word, for you give the gift of our world. You are the creating one through whom ancient Laurentian mountains have their craggy existence. By your imaginative power, forests of black spruce, larch, and balsam grow along ridges of granite and gneiss. By your gracious creativity, lynx and porcupine make their fleet-footed or lumbering way through habitats long called home. “All, at a Word, has become this almost overwhelming loveliness” (Margaret Avison).

Praise to you, O living Word, who has been born, like us, in a rush of blood and water—vulnerable, with your mother, in your passage into this world. The love displayed in your birth is an accompanying love that risks pain and loss and cold and homelessness, even as you are warmly received into the arms of Mary. This young woman who has borne God, leads you into a beautiful and fearful world, teaching you the prayers of your people along the way. You have learned from her; you are yourself with her and the people to whom she belongs. You find yourself, and are yourself, in relation to the God who makes covenant with this people.

Praise to you, O living Word, for you are the showing forth of God’s glory. In your speaking, the magnificence of God is heard. In your face, the beauty of God is seen. In your living, the grandeur of God is made apparent. We had always expected God’s glory to be otherworldly, almost unimaginable, yet here you are in time and space. God’s grandeur in a bawling baby. Glory to God in the highest; Glory to God in an unremarkable Lord alongside us. Continue reading

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Can there be an excess of colour, light, and texture? #chihuly

Today I went down with Becky and the kids to take in the Chihuly exhibit at the Musée des beaux-arts. It is a good-sized, though not huge exhibit – though regardless of its size it represents a cornucopia of colour and shapes and light. Chihuly has the capacity to create enchanting pieces of glass – and astonishing larger pieces made up of multiple piece of glass. More than enchanting, his pieces are remarkable for their colours and patterns and the ways that light is used to set them off as a feast for the eyes.

Another important aspect of these pieces is that they could never have been created by one person. The level of physical effort that goes into blowing, or otherwise creating, pieces of glass of this size requires a team of creators, with Chihuly at the lead.

I can only imagine that there is, out there, an fairly vast literature about the significance of Chihuly’s work and, more specifically, on the question of whether it is mere “decorative arts” – that is, whether it offers some statement on the nature or meaning of human life and community or is simply intended to add colour and beauty to the background and foreground of our daily life. At a minimum, the display I saw today suggested that we are drawn to his work because we are drawn to light and colour and beauty – symmetry and organic shapes and a diverse but generally bright palette. Here are a few of the pieces.

But after these photos I took this morning, and after the jump, I also want to briefly consider (and contrast with the work of Chihuly) a painting I saw in another section of the gallery today.

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