“though indeed the divine is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17v27)
Take a look at the first picture. This shows a recent one-off piece that I made as part of an online zoom art and faith group. We were given a story from the bible, discussed it and then had an hour to make our artistic responses. Our story was about manna, a mysterious substance which God provided as food when the people of Israel wandered in the wilderness. “When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that God has given you to eat. This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Everyone is to gather as much as they need. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.’” The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed. Now the house of Israel called its name manna, which means ’what is it?’.” I liked the idea that there was just the right amount of manna for each household: sufficient for that day.
In the picture you will see that I have used a kilner jar to represent the 'omer’, which is approximately a 2-pint measurement. What struck me about the manna was that it only lasted for a day, and in fact, if the people tried to save it, it went off. I liked the idea of daily grace, and of finding the ‘what is it?’ of today. What is the divine revealing to me now, what mysteries, like the mysterious substance of manna, will be revealed today? Inside the jar I cut up the lines of the poem below, using a different font for each line of the poem to reflect the idea that there are new and different mercies daily.
Listen to your life.
See it for the fathomless mystery that it is.
In the boredom and pain of it
no less than in the excitement and gladness:
touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it
because in the last analysis all moments are key moments,
and life itself is grace.
The second image shows a piece called You are not Lost which I made for an exhibition in Bradford. In this I used breadcrumbs, sugar and salt to signify welcome, referencing Eastern European threshold traditions. The title refers to a poem by David Wagoner which talks about the sense of belonging in our world. I like the idea of leaving a trail of breadcrumbs, rather like the fairy-tale of Hansel and Gretel, who navigate their way through the woods to safety. Maybe grace is like this trail, the manna that we pick up along the way, the small yet surprisingly sufficient moments in our everyday, helping us navigate our way through life.
Take time to look at the pictures and consider these questions:
What has your day been like today?
Can you find some breadcrumbs of grace in it?
What are your ‘what is it’s of today?
In the bible story, the Israelites are asked to keep an omer of manna in their tabernacle permanently to remind themselves of the daily divine provision.
You will need a jar, sheet of paper, scissors, pen or pencil
- Take time to think about your daily graces
- Write them down or draw them on the paper
- Cut up the paper and place in the jar
- Keep the jar in your house where you can see it
- Over the next week, take out one piece of paper each day and spend time with it, reminding yourself of your breadcrumb trail
This meditation is commissioned by Leeds Methodist Mission