Abigail O’Brien, an Irish artist, took a decade to complete her magnanimous series of installations The Seven Sacraments. A visual meditation using different mediums—photographs, found objects, needlepoint, sculpture—this series explores the interplay of domestic life and its tangible chores with the tangibility of the sacraments, and their concrete expressions of grace. Basin, water, linen, flour, bread, fish, goblet, lilies, grapes: this list conjures items both mundane and holy—daily tasks in the realm of home as well as those made vital to the public ministry of Jesus Christ and ecclesiastical rituals.
Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
Like most people, I’ve heard Martin Luther King, Jr. invoking the prophet Amos in old film footage. In the 1960s, this particular verse inspired many people to advocate for civil rights, and later to advocate against US involvement in the Vietnam conflict. Even now, Amos’s words are almost synonymous with Martin Luther King, Jr. and his work for justice. Yet King’s reason for calling up Amos was to petition his own followers to become “maladjusted.” That’s an astonishing call, not what I’d expected.
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.
I hear it first thing in the morning. Though it’s not really silence. There’s the whir of the fan, the slowly ticking clock. It’s not so much the absence of sound that defines silence, but a moment when the second hand slows the spinning Earth and creates an expansiveness of time. Not just on the borderlands of waking and sleeping, we cross the threshold into this broad space more often than we realize. Usually artists take us there.
“Stick to the daily learning targets. Do not get off track.” This is one of my administrators, the one that meets with me once a week to go over my lesson plans. Daily Learning Targets are like Bible Memory Work: we are to write these words on our hearts and minds. Do not stray from these words. And it’s not that I stray, but if I were to claim a characteristic of my teaching it’s that when I begin to study and discuss a story, I tend to walk my students down a path that we didn’t know we were going to walk down. Mayella Ewell’s geraniums, for example. The grace in Mercutio. Voldemort’s broken heart. All of these are bulls’ eyes; I just didn’t know I was shooting in their direction at the time.