Harbor – Any place of shelter or refuge.

Tomorrow our family will celebrate the life of one family member while another will have heart surgery.

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Awesome Melody

(Above) Horse studies from the sketchbook of Jacqueline Perry, 2012

One afternoon in June, my friend and I went to the stables at Glendorn to sketch horses. The horses moved every few seconds to keep the bugs off; at least they looked uncomfortable to me–swishing their tails, shaking their heads, shifting their great weight from side to side, trading positions every few minutes.  They appeared ‘antsy’, but maybe it was just me.

Highs and Lows: My low today was being a poor listener; I felt ‘antsy’. I interupted a colleague a few too many times and talked more than was helpful. My high came near the end of the day, while listening to a friend share some awesome stories of when she was growing up.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for delighting my ears through the melody of your work.*

When did you hear God’s awesome melody today?

* A phrase borrowed from a Baha’i peace prayer available from Peace Prayers from the World’s Faiths, by  Roger Grainger

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A Tiny Drop

Dry Creek Bed - Blackhawk State Park by Jacqueline Perry 9/30/12Dry Creek Bed, Blackhawk State Park 9/30/12,  Jacqueline Perry

A tiny drop of fear can water the imagination. When I moved to the Quad Cities six years ago, someone with the best of intentions warned me not to go walking alone at Blackhawk State Park.  A young woman’s remains had once been found there. The advice stuck in my mind and for six years I avoided walking the woodland trails.

Last Sunday afternoon, I had the best time walking the pathes at Blackhawk State Park. At times, the trails, made dusty from use, wrapped tightly along dry creek beds and steep ledges. The late afternoon sun filtered through golden leaves. Along the way, I met several generations laughing and enjoying the woods. The deep dry creek beds were the most interesting to me, full of rocks and leaves and not a drop of fear.


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Study for Psalm 42, by Jacqueline Perry, markers on paper, 2005

 “As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.” Psalm 42:1

This week, I came across two drawings that I did while in seminary. My schedule was pretty screwed up back then. More times than I care to admit, I would set my alarm for 3:00 a.m. in order to complete an assignment. There was little time for art, but I wanted to do it.

To get back into the practice of art, a friend suggested to me that I might start by just holding some art supply in my hand and present that to God. At the time, I had been cutting small paper squares and putting them in a glass canning jar for use later to create some small mosaic something. It was comforting to sit before God during prayer time,  just holding that glass jar, without words. My holding the half empty jar said it all.

Psalm 42 study II, Jacqueline Perry, marker on paper

I plan to make prints of these two studies and will post my process.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for quenching our thirst for you in amazing ways.

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Gallery Talk

“Glendorn Woods (square)”, Jacqueline Perry, acrylic on canvas

What a fun time last night during my “gallery talk” at church. I hung a number of art pieces from the summer and gave a PowerPoint presentation from my sabbatical. Thanks, Beth, Linda, Amy, and others for bringing the great food and decorations. We crowded into the Son Cafe around tables and bar stools. I enjoyed hearing the range of replies to my question, ‘Who showed you the wonders of nature?’ :

  • ‘Dr. Arp knew everything about animals. If I had a question about a fox or some other animal, he could answer it. He grew up on the farm.’
  • ‘One time all the men in the family went hunting and I wanted to go, too, but they said that I couldn’t go. My aunt, noticed how disappointed I was and she asked, “Do you want to go?” I replied, “O, yes.” She let me go. When I finally spotted a deer, I took aim…and then decided it was enough just to be there.’
  • ‘My daughter. She studied eco-biology and now works for the park service and studies grouse’.
  • ‘I knew a couple who lived in the desert, but raised flowers and sold them at a road side stand. They loved the flowers, but  it also gave them a social life!”
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From my skectch book at Glendorn, “Reflection Sketch”, marker on paper, by Jacqueline Perry, 2012

Drawing means to sketch something with lines. It also means to pull out from a source, like drawing water from a deep well.

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Something More

“Anna Feeding a Doe” by Jacqueline Perry (5th trial proof). Linocut on rice paper.

The ‘plate’ is softer than linoleum and easy to cut.

“Anna Feeding a Doe” by Jacqueline Perry, first trial proof.

“Anna Feeding a Doe” by Jacqueline Perry, first trial plate

Printmaking can be tedious. There are many steps,  but it is so darned satisfying to lift the paper off of the plate to see the final outcome. The print is a surprise each time. I can pull twenty prints in a row, and experience twenty surprises. This amazes me.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for dull steps that lead me to something more.

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Tree Fungus

“Duck Creek-Dryad’s Saddle 8.24.12″ by Jacqueline Perry, scratch-art paper 6″x6”.

Dryad’s Saddle enters a living tree trunk through a wound in the tree. The fungus is a creamy color with  small brown spots. Large pancake-shaped funnels stack up in beautiful layers. I spotted this one at Duck Creek Park this morning…a small surpise.

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Cloudy Sky

Last week, we had many good cloud days. On the prairie, its so easy to notice the sky.

One day, facing the front of a simple red barn, I giggled because there were two simple matching puffy clouds on either side of the red barn. It looked like those pictures that little kids draw.

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Prairie Retreat Center

“Prairie Milkweed Afternoon I” by Jacqueline Perry, acrylic on canvas 20″ x 24″

“Prairie Milkweed Morning” by Jacqueline Perry, acrylic on canvas 20″ x 20″

“Prairie Milkweed Afternoon II”  Jacqueline Perry, acrylic on canvas 18″ x 14″

My french easle set up at Our Lady of the Prairie Retreat Center near Big Rock, Iowa. This is the first state for “Prairie Milkweed Morning”.

Thank you to Kathleen and Kathy and Our Lady of the Prairie Retreat Center (info at: http://www.chmiowa.org/catering_to_the_soul.cfm ) for your amazing hospitality these past five days. Thank you for your prairie bread, and homemade wild plum jam this morning!

What a perfect place to spend my last week of summer sabbatical. I began my time away in a soft muddy slough; I end the time surrounded by dry prairie grass. God’s creation is beautifully complex…and good.

My art project this week was to find the quiet center in the midst of complexity. Surely, I can apply these lessons to my ministry.

I am grateful to my congregation, First Congregational Church of Moline, for their gift of a sabbatical. The time has allowed me to explore more deeply ways to bridge art and faith through nature.  I plan to continue this blog and to explore art, faith, and nature, personally and in community. I hope that you will share your reflections with me. In gratitude–Jackie

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