God's Work
June 18, 2006


Day 6 of General Convention brings with it some delightful coincidences. Have you noticed that "God's Work" is the theme for Father's Day? And have you noticed that the election of the next Presiding Bishop is scheduled on the day that's themed "God's Work" ?

The theme brims with possibilities. God's work is all of creation! Much of the work in this exhibition celebrates the wonder all around us. Jan Neal's "Burning Bush" bursts forth with life cardinals, symbols of the Holy Spirit; red gladiolus, emblematic of God's fire. Kathy Thaden's mosaics let me almost understand how God may see the world He made. Tiny pieces cascading into a universal whole the work of human hands, echoing God's own.

Anne Wetzel's "Solomon's Seal" shows us beautiful creationso small, so perfect. It cannot be expanded nor improved on. “Keep my eyes open,” Anne writes; “just look ... It is all here for me to dwell in, to give me peace."

How may we give thanks for such a blessed dwelling place?

A friend of mine honors the blessings in her life by spending a lot of time in a much harsher place: Northern Malawi. She has made many friends there and lost some, to the terrible diseases that ravage the region. She keeps going back. Because of her, others have made the trip as well. No one returns unchanged.

After a visit, one young man commented, "The people there walk everywhere for miles. How can they do that? And sometimes they even sing as they walk. They are happy!"

How can that be? Are desperate people more pure or noble somehow? I do not know. People tend to be the same everywhere. But perhaps under the harsh lens of survival, God's work comes more clearly into focus.

The Episcopal Relief and Development photo "In the Shadow of Suffering" shows a harsh view as well, of desolation under a burning sun. It is hard to look at. It should be. Knowledge like this can change us; sometimes the effect is profound.

After learning about the great need at an Anglican orphanage in Kenya, my son's kindergarten teacher made several trips there. A boy named Geoffrey tugged at her heart. Now she has resigned her teaching job to spend more time there. She explained, "In Kenya, when I leave, the children have nothing. If they have a good day or a bad day or something special happens, they have no one to tell."

She continued, "The children tell me, 'When you come, you look us in the eye. No one else ever does that.' " They stand and talk to her for several hours every day. There are no chairs, but no one cares. What counts is that she listens.

Most of our lives here in North America have little to do with Third World relief zones. We are comfortable; there is plenty of food. Most of us even have jobs that we can take for granted. We have medical care, housing, electrical power, water everything we need.

We also have people in our own alleyways who are homeless and hurting. Laura Fisher Smith's contemporary icon "Our Mother Sits Alone" depicts a woman most of us might look away from. It's easy to ignore the needy, even when we walk past them and hear them call after us. Is it God's work to write our usual check for the Sunday morning offering and then think no more about all that? Can we comfortably tell God that we have done our share, that someone else must tend to all the rest?

In the Episcopal Relief and Development photograph "Another Step Forward/The Road Ahead," we see a group of women in a cloudless African landscape, in front of a single tree. These women are swaying together, singing. They are celebrating!

God bless them for all that they celebrate! I join them; I am happy for them and with them. God is present there
and everywhere. God's work is going on every minute, in every corner of this planet. Let us go forth in peace to love and serve the Lord. Thanks be to God! Alleluia, Alleluia!

Brie Dodson, Curator
ECVA Director of Communications



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2006 The Episcopal Church and Visual Art