It’s Wednesday, and time again for Faith and Art with Rosanna, courtesy of Idaho artist Rosanna Cartwright who shares sketches she’s made during sermons and theological discussions.
Today we get to look inside the mind of an artist! Rosanna has shared an opening sketch of a project, a bird walking around in a suit of armor! The stimulus for this unusual thought becomes clear as you read the words all around the birdie. Concepts like “faith” mix with vulnerability and fear. The bird has self-identity and purpose, but the words that define those things become heavy.
Whether the words are inspirational or challenging, the more rigidly they become defined, the more they form the armor protecting the self rather than freedom to be the self. The bird ends up well-sheltered, but (one assumes) no longer able to fly. At that point is the bird still defined by its identity and purpose, or is it more defined by the armor it wears to protect them?
Down at the lower right of the introductory sketch, we see the bird in alternate form, flying free, with the large word, “FAITH” lifting up its wings.
Interestingly enough, the finished product looks like this:
Notice that the jumble of words has been reduced to a couple, measurable streams. All the weight of uncertainty and vulnerability is condensed into a single admission: we are vulnerable. That’s reality. Nothing will ever change that this side of the grave.
Admitting and defining our vulnerability robs it of its central place and ultimate power. It’s no longer lurking out there, a gigantic monster waiting to devour us. It’s there, simply and truly, on the page. But it no longer holds the center spot. Instead we respond to vulnerability with a more important question: what will we do in the face of it? The central agency doesn’t lie with anything that could harm us. Our response defines how we’ll understand our lives.
Even that response is simplified. We have the armored, ground-bound fear which appears to protect, but ends up robbing the bird of its ability to soar. We also have trust, higher on the page and thus physically closer to the word “vulnerable”, but also more honest, integral, and free.
Trust and fear don’t lead to the same results. We need each at different times, but they can’t both be at the center of our faith response. In the face of vulnerability and imperfection—our own and the world’s—which defines us more? Are we armored birds, weighed down in the hopes of preserving an identity that we’ve already lost by putting on the armor, or are we soaring birds, exposed to the world, yet winging through it with joy?
You can find Rosanna at her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/rosanna.cartwright.3. We’ll be back next week with another drawing!