Your Containers or Your Life

Eight people are participating in the current Formation Series track “The Journey of Your Art and Poetry.” Each Wednesday night they share with one another how a Lenten poetic or art making discipline is helping them grow spiritually. Facilitator of the group, Mark Turner, offered the following to the group in their second meeting.

“Containers and Life” by Mark R. Turner, 11.5″x8.4″,
mixed media on paper: pencil, pen, collage

My mixed media image has us sitting out with the containers. But, wouldn’t you like to see what that design is like on the layer behind?

There is a story about a wedding celebration which went way beyond an afternoon reception and partied so hard they ran out of wine. Jesus and his disciples were there and his mother tapped him to help out with the pending disaster.

Jesus looked at six major containers: six amphorae each with a capacity of 20 to 30 gallons of liquid. With drink like that the party would have to go on for days even with a large crowd. But they were reserved for religious ritual cleansing water — a technical process strictly observed. He told the servers to fill the containers with water as they were meant to be.

Then he directed the servers to draw some of the water out and take it to the master of ceremonies who, rather than washing in the middle of the party, decided to sip it and was blown away. It was the best wine he had ever tasted.

Needless to say the party went on — and on — without a hitch — except for the couple who really were hitched and whose wedding would never be forgotten. (John 2:1-11)

Everyone truly appreciated those huge containers and never mentioned they had been employed for a much different use than intended. But, then, who cares about containers? It’s what is inside and poured out that matters.

Life is more than containers.

Pots, pans, houses,
Cars, stores, businesses,
Jobs, banks, corporations,
Institutions, systems,
Governments, nations,
Race, class, culture,
Our Way-of-Life,

We make them to serve that which really cannot be contained, the spirit which Jesus would later compare to the wind.

All these containers are temporary, but we tend to concentrate on them and forget the on-going party, to keep busy maintaining and guarding the containers while life radiates beyond us.

Peel back the container layer of my drawing and contemplate the uncontainable.

“Part of a Moment of Life” by Mark R. Turner,
7″x5.25″, mixed media on paper: pencil, pen

–  Mark Turner
co-leader, Cathedral Center for the Performing and Visual Arts

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