The first touch between a baby and its Mother, Father or loved one is an incredibly unique moment. When those teeny tiny baby fingers wrap themselves around your finger, well, I know my heart instantly liquefies. I'm sure babies could solve world peace - we are powerless! To me, Jesus was from the beginning the ultimate first touch of joy, brought into the world through our infinitely loving God.
In this season of advent, I'm mindful to wait in joyful hope... waiting to celebrate the incarnation of God in the birth of Jesus. When I think about advent I don't think about it like waiting at a dentist's office or waiting for test results. It's more like waiting at an airport for a loved one to arrive, or waiting for a birthday party, the news is more than good!
Following advent we celebrate Jesus' birth (Christmas). Because of his birth we can also give thanks for his life. His actions and parables now reach out to us all, showing us that we all have divinity within us, we are all family. We are true kindred, all wonderfully made, all divine gifts from our creator God. As Daniel O'Leary explains "The human love of Jesus was the divine love of God. So is ours." In many ways I think Jesus's incarnation and life teaches us that the good news can be heard as a symphony, a gift from beyond, now played by a variety of musicians (all creatures great and small). We can choose to love all as family as he did. Perhaps we too can live divine love when we recognise our kinship with other musicians, simply proclaiming 'the Christ in me sees the Christ in you' - together we are the symphony.
I have created this image as an illustrated symphony, a window into how I imagine the Nativity scene might look today. When praying/thinking about the Nativity I found my imagination being drawn towards the hands and feet of little baby Jesus. He would have grabbed onto Mary's finger, connected his little hands and feet with Mary, Joseph and others he encountered. No words can adequately explain the first touch of a baby or what that would have been like 2000+ years ago, so... I hope this illustration communicates some of that love without words.
Some artwork notes about this piece:
- Mary's hand gently hovers on the right as Jesus grabs tight.
- Multiple skin tones symbolise that Jesus came for all nations and all people.
- Joseph's Hoodie symbolises travel-wear that might be typical of a rebel refugee today. Perhaps he would be cold all huddled up in a refugee tent today?
- See if you can find other symbols?
- Jesus was radically inclusive, I wonder where he learned to include all 'colours'?
- Look, imagine, perhaps read the Nativity scripture and see what is revealed for you?
Thank you for journeying with me this year. I am deeply grateful to be growing with vulnerability as part of an incredible family. I'm listening, finding my feet in religious life, connecting, falling, getting up, dancing, waiting, one step at a time. I hope this advent and Christmas season is full of joy, may we all embrace our gifts of many colours. As Richard Rohr reminds us "It's all a gift".
Much love and merry Christmas family
- View this month's News Flash: December #7. Discover Christmas cards, a wonderful animation and a rendition of Joy to the World.
- Sign up to receive a monthly email here
Watch below to see the 30 second illustration creation
The month of November is a time when we especially remember all souls and the community of saints that have gone before us.
When thinking about loved ones and our community of saints, I found myself wondering... Is there a main message that they have left us with? Through researching the lives of the saints and much prayer, I recently had a 'light bulb' moment as I began to see a motif emerge from my contemplative brain cocoon! I began to see that all saints show us by their lives that relationship with God and experiencing true life on earth does not come through specifically what we say. God’s love grows through our ordinary actions. I'm sure we all have fond memories of our loved ones and their simple actions of love. For example; I won't always remember what my Grandfather said, but I will forever remember him especially making me a traditional Maltese dish every Friday night - an action of love that united us.
St Mary MacKillop alludes to the need for us to to act in love when she wrote to Sisters on the 25th March 1873: "I need not tell you to be dutiful and thankful to God for this, and to show by your actions more than by words that you are so." Importantly this quote is part of a powerful letter Mary wrote before she departed for Rome. She was leaving Sisters in the care of Fr Reynolds and others she trusted as she courageously ventured off to try to get Rule approved for the Sisters of Saint Joseph (spoiler alert, she accomplished her mission!). In this letter she calls for unity, respect while she is away, asking for "a true spirit of charity and unity amongst you." She is essentially asking Sisters to act in the ordinary with charity and kindness. She goes on to say "See then how careful you must be. In our unity lies, under God our strength." We know that Mary certainly lived these actions throughout her life.
Ironically many saints have explained this through words - even though their actions speak much much louder:
"Preach the Gospel at all times and only if necessary use words" ~ St Francis of Assisi
"The proof of love is deed." ~ Catherine McAuley
"Actions speak louder than words; let your words teach and your actions speak" ~ St Anthony of Padua
"Love has to be put into action, and that action is service" ~ St Teresa of Calcutta
"Christ has no body now, but yours. No hands, no feet on earth, but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ looks compassion into the world. Yours are the feet with which Christ walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which Christ blesses the world." ~ St Teresa of Avila
As I began to think about quotes from our community of saints and the actions of loved ones I felt inspired to create some cartoons around these. About this time our librarian at school also asked me, "can you create bookmarks for us with quotes that we can give our students?" Then low and behold two others also randomly asked for bookmarks. Their requests stayed with me, inspiration struck, and before I knew it I was creating bookmarks. I am in no way a saint but these three bookmarks are just a small ordinary action to remember the actions of those on whose shoulders we stand. These are available to download for free below. I hope this small act of kindness may inspire you to "go and do likewise". May the actions of the saints and souls we love continue to unite us, growing like a mustard seed in our hearts... and in-turn passing onto others...
"Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
And let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace. Amen."
Much love, Jane
- View this month's News Flash: November #6 + Sign up here
- Much gratitude also to those who have helped with the bookmarks especially Roslyn Kennedy (our archivist at North Sydney) and Sr Marie Foale rsj for your help and wisdom in researching and understanding Mary's letters.
- As a side note, You'll see on the time-lapse video (for Mary's bookmark) that I had originally drawn "We must teach more by example than by word" believing it was a quote from Mary after finding it several places online. But, as it turns out, it was adapted over time and not accurate. There is a cheeky quote that seems to fit here; "Thou shalt trust everything you see on the internet ~ Abraham Lincoln"
I hope you enjoy these 30 second time-lapse videos. View at full screen by clicking the video, then click on the arrows at the bottom right corner of the video.
These downloadable files are saved to print to about A4 size. They are available to download as single bookmark images or I have created a layout with 4 bookmarks per page. This artwork is copyright and is for PERSONAL USE ONLY. Not to be sold anywhere without permission.
If you would like to reproduce these as a larger item just send me a message and just ask if you have any questions at all.
Samples of the 4 page letter Mary wrote to Sisters
Jane Maisey rsj