The Makings of an Altar

 Before the craft, there was the man. Before the art, there were the hands. Every piece that reigns as a master was first born on scraps of paper in quiet strokes of soft pencil led; quiet strokes of revelation.IMG_4771

IMG_2918I sit in a retired swiveling barber’s chair with a steaming cup of coffee, warmth between my palms. It is morning and the dawn begins to seep into the wooden planks of floor at my feet. It is quiet. I breathe in stillness and coffee and breathe out peace; my heart is content. Alone, I muse upon the risen canvas at the other end of the long rectangular room. Centered-around this blank canvas is a rising atmosphere of creative ambition; it marks the beginning of a sanctifying process. There it is, that feeling; the familiar excitement of unlocked potential; the consciousness of faith increasing; the awareness of heaven opening up on earth. In all of its vacuity of whiteness, there is a fullness of glory yet to be displayed. It holds the promise of the miraculous; it is the center of a holy space.   IMG_2921IMG_2923

Here I am. I have found myself in the midst of this holy place, in this place set apart: our studio-gallery home four stories high with walls made up of mostly windows, the rest covered by art; with crumbs strewn all across the counter and beneath the swiveling chair; with coffee grinds dusting the kitchen glass table and paintbrushes and nibs, unopened envelopes and unchecked to-do lists, unfinished journals and caps without pens scattered all about me. In the silence, I dwell in the undying devotion that will commence hereafter. Just a day before, this canvas was a pile of pieces in the place where it now stands. Gathered at the feet of my Artist were the makings of an altar:Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset perfectly measured wood angled at the ends for seamless alignment, a rolled canvas, hammer and brass tacks. They are assembled and built by the tough, worshipping hands of a Craftsman of All Skill. They are unholy materials built for a holy purpose (isn’t that a story I know all too well? Unrighteous parts put together in a holy design; built and refined by The Craftsman). I see my Artist fit the frame and work his hands across the threads of canvas. Milky white skin stretches across wooden bones. He knows this craft, this prepping for the miracle. It is his ritual before each painted piece; a ceremonial endeavor for the soul, manifested in physical labor. Arms strong and eyes steady, he studies this blank form; vision focused and head clear, seeing the work that is before him. Mind, body, and soul, my Artist obeys the call to create, bound in selfless service.IMG_2934IMG_2937My heart pounding resounds off the gallery walls above me and around me. I abide in a space where miracles take shape. Upon that empty canvas, I will witness the strokes of revelation, revealing Truth and Beauty, just as I have seen so many times before. How will this piece be different? How will we change? How will He use my Artist’s hands to tell of His glory? I pray over the hands and heart of my Artist right then and there in this moment of meditation; I am yet again taken-up with the strong conviction of prayer over my husband’s unique gift- the gift that we would protect and steward in our unity. The preparatory canvas-making, the Artists’ devotion, the whispers of prayers, they are all a part of this refining process; this partaking of holiness; this communing with God.

IMG_2939IMG_2942IMG_2943I raise my coffee to my lips to take another sip of awakening. The morning light strengthens. Golden streaks gape across the floor and creep up the walls around me. The world is waking beneath; the sounds of Hampden Avenue commence. With the light, I know that silence is fleeting and will soon be lifted by a constant, conglomerate hum of whizzing commuters, whirling sirens, and warped chatter from the hair salon on the first floor. I close my eyes- emerging- readying myself for the moment to break. The eyes open and the blank canvas illuminates. Here’s to another day, a new beginning- an unmarked endeavor. May heaven come down and may we never be the same. IMG_4948

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2 Comments

Candace
Candace

August 16, 2015

What a beautiful, worshipful tale!

“How will this piece be different? How will we change? How will He use my Artist’s hands to tell of His glory?”

May God bless you and your wife. I hope to fill our home with your works as time goes by, so we can share your story and faith.

Cynthia Gardner
Cynthia Gardner

August 10, 2015

Hi Jake, I’ve spent a little time tonight (actually 12am, I’m a night-owl) and explored your site. I love the piece ‘altar’ and you’ve created in words the way I feel when I’m working. Near the end of a BFA in college (second time around at age 56) I had just about given up hope of creating works w meaning as all the “experts” have told me (repeatedly) that my work is “too literal, you can’t make that we’re a ‘state’ school (i.e. no ‘religious’ meaning, unless of course your disgracing Christianity, then it’s ok) or that the ‘idea’ should be ambiguous”. Your work is fresh, beautiful and meaningful. Looking through your site has restored my faith that my work has purpose (after-all). Peace to you, Cynthia

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