baby Jesus in a locket
I’ve been distracted from writing these past few months because I’ve taken up paper mosaics, which involves cutting up previously used paper and using it to create something else.
I blame the coloring books I had dallied with earlier in the year, and the move from there to some very amateur illustrations for early reader books my friends are making for children in Ethiopia.
And then – oh, and then! I decided to make a mosaic out of all my old to-do lists, and behold – the Flower of Accomplishment!
this is not the finished product, but you get the idea
Then our children’s ministry director was recycling all the old Sunday School lithographs – the ones with the white, Van Dyke-bearded Jesus, teaching the well-behaved and well-dresssed children,
so I took a bunch of those and cut them up and made an icon of a saint I wish existed: Martha (as in Luke 10), Patron Saint of Clergywomen.
Yes, she is holding a baby and a plunger and if you have ever been a clergywoman (or a director of Christian Education) you will understand why.
Then I thought that Martha looked a little formal and prim, and I remembered my dear mentor friends Lucy and Carol, and am finishing up the icon of another saint I wish existed: Sarah (as in Genesis), Patron Saint of the Old Broads of the Church.
Sarah likes breaking the rules, ditching the collar and the dyed hair, without the sedate dark blue background but with a scandalous red one
She has eschewed the clerical collar, but is holding the ubiquitous cup of coffee and making a peace sign. She also keeps Jesus close to her heart. I’m not happy with her face yet, and I did some old school cutting and pasting to straighten her out, but she’s almost there. I think I have one more Patron Saint icon in me, but I’m not sure yet who she is. Jael, Patron Saint of the Mansplained? Eve, Patron Saint of the Rule Breakers?
Another favorite Old Broad of the Church, Margaret, would ask then ask me, “What have you learned from this?”
I have learned that when you take something very big and make it very small, you have a new appreciation for its beauty and character. Those old Sunday School lithographs were beautiful, and there are some beautiful pieces of quarter-inch squares in these pieces. And I have learned that when you take something very big and make it very small and then combine all that smallness to make something big again, you make a brand new thing that still has characteristics of the old thing. I think family systems theory would support that.
I have also learned that I am developing my patience muscles, which is a good thing, and that somehow these mosaics have to do with call and story telling. Martha and Sarah, like all the saints, are shaped by the stories that are in their DNA. Maybe we are too, shaped by the stories that get cut up and reorganized and glued down in different ways.
I got to hold a day-old baby yesterday. He is a tiny thing, made up of cells and molecules and atoms and genetic pieces of his mom and dad. His story has just begun, but he is already shaped the stories that surround his family and their friends. What a miraculous thing this is, this life, these tiny things that turn out, in the end, to be enormous.