Reprise: Is Grace a State? Does the Holy Spirit Sit for Portraits?

Blog by Sr. Janet Schlichting

In March of this past year, I shared with you my fretting over my art project—the collages of the 6 peace doves–tied to my theological musings about  the movement of grace and the unhindered surprise of the Spirit. I wanted the peace doves to be the Holy Spirit but they sat pretty, too static to express the “flowing, shimmering, gusting, blazing, cascading” sense I had of the spirit.   I proceeded to write about both grace and the Holy Spirit as “an ever-recurring mystery. It is mobility, not stability, that underlies and supports the matter-ing that we are and which surrounds us.”  My next piece would be an attempt to make visual the dynamism of the Spirit, that ever-moving and transforming force that we liken to wind, water and fire.

I’ve finished it.  Of course my efforts have fallen short but when I finally got some long-awaited inspiration, it became a collage of prayer and play, and eventually I had to stop somewhere.  I include a cellphone photo here, at a second remove from the project. And with it, a reflection based on the scriptural charge in  Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians ( I Thess 5) “Do not stifle the Spirit.”

The Holy Spirit and the Invitation to the dance.

She is among us, Sophia, Shekina—
She plays here in our midst,
elbowing spaciousness into our crowded fears.
Will you deny her the delight?
Always be joyful, pray continually,
Give thanks whatever happens.
The dance of union, of new creation goes on
And we are awhirl in it, carried in it, borne up on it—
The singing wind, the lilting song
that led Dominic, Joyful Friar,
Along the Gospel path.
Will you join in the song? Will you try a new step?
Are you fearful, are you dreary, dragging, benumbed?
Sure it has all been said, nothing new under the sun?
Ah, do not stifle the Spirit—she burns and she sizzles
With Divine dreams, she comes to light in us a new fire,
To strengthen the weak, to encourage the weary,
To shake us awake! To limber us up!
To kindle our hearts! To lead us in laughter!
To twinkle in our eyes, to be hope for a new day.

Posted in News, Weekly Word

14 responses to “Reprise: Is Grace a State? Does the Holy Spirit Sit for Portraits?

  1. Seeing your beautiful depiction of the Holy Spirit “hovering over the waters” and after reading your blog, I feel strengthened and encouraged, lifted up, and yes, even a little limbered up!
    Thank you Sr for sharing your talent your joyful spirit!

  2. Janet, I love your “dancing withe the Spirit”!! You are so
    creative! Thanks for sharing your marvelous talents.
    Peace, Mary Otho

  3. Dear Janet, Thanks so much for your wonderful reflection of the Holy Spirit in art and poetry. I plan to put a copy in my journal to keep me in touch with the Holy Spirit you so beautifully shared with us today.

  4. Beautiful, Jan! I am touched by the line…to limber us up. I’m seeing a chiropractor for being stiff in the mornings. Maybe I should tune in more often to the Spirit. And, if you make prints of your artwork, I want one!! ❤️

  5. Jan, I love this! (both the artwork and your reflection). IMHO, no, Holy Spirit does not sit for portraits… She is always on the move: dancing and twirling, moving about and within us. Yes, I want to join in!

    Thanks for sharing your prayerful thoughts!


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