"I prayed, and understanding was given
me; I called on God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me.
... I do not hide her wealth, for it is an unfailing
treasure for mortals; those who get it obtain friendship
with God, commended for the gifts that come from
Friendship with God: what does
that mean? I once heard Br. Charles LaFond,
SSJE (Society of St. John the Evangelist) compare God
to a warm, vivacious, conspiratorial "great friend,"
who might enthusiastically peruse possibilities for our
lives, rub His hands together happily, and say, "Hmm
... now, what can we do with that?"
I got to know Br. Charles' teachings
in a workshop I was privileged to take with
him at St. John's Episcopal Church on Lafayette Square
in Washington, D.C., when the cherry blossoms were at
their fullest in the spring of 2005. Later I distilled
his teachings into a set of "Brother Charles' Rules,"
and have copied them onto the first page of every sketchbook
since then. Rule One is: "Every choice we make is
either toward God or away from God."
Seeking friendship with God
would seem to be the ultimate choice
Him. As the Apostle James wrote: "Draw near to God,
and He will draw near to you." The English word "friend"
has its roots in an Old English verb meaning "to
love, to favor," and is "kissing cousins"
with another word meaning "free." Love, favor,
freedom – what's not to like? Is it really that simple?
In his last interview, a few
months before his death in 1963, C.S. Lewis said,
"... The most deeply compelled action is also the
freest action. By that I mean, no part of you is outside
the action. It is a paradox." But that doesn't mean
freedom is easy. Jesus' most deeply compelled action
for us, and also His freest, was arguably His death on
Friendship means being fully
present to another; sharing his experience,
walking a mile in his shoes. Jesus' willingness to do
those things led him to live with us and die for us. Friendship
is God's gift to us; can we reciprocate? That could well
culminate in Jesus' admonition, "Take up your cross
and follow Me."
King Solomon wrote that friendship
with God starts with prayer.
understanding and wisdom, Solomon said; and finally confers
this holy friendship, which gives us "the gifts that
come through instruction." Indeed, prayer is all
about submitting ourselves to God's will and inviting
His instruction. What mortal can know where that may lead?
The works of art in this exhibition
explore the awe-inspiring idea
of what it
must be like to share "friendship with God"
so far as we are able: to join in the experience of Christ;
to engage in His world, to the extent that we may; to
walk with Him.
Here you will see works that
may seem controversial or difficult. That
is not necessarily a bad thing; Jesus was marvelously
controversial and delightfully difficult, too.
The Rev. Paul Fromberg's "Station
One: Jesus is Condemned to Die"
the Stations of the Cross on our terms, in our time. Fromberg
pulls back the veil of two thousand years' passage and
refuses to spare us the immediacy of the experience. "My
Sinai," created by Shanna Paul and The Rev. Jim Quigley
of Christ Church, Bowling Green, Kentucky, speaks for
itself of the conflict, temptation, and yearning that
must surely have torn a Son of Man who was fully divine,
yet fully human. Laurie Gudim's "Christ the Compassionate"
and Jan Neal's "Magdalene" pull at the heart
with their eloquence and restraint. Camilla Brunschwyler
Armstrong's "Bearing the Light of Being" makes
concrete the paradox of the Holy Trinity: the "push-and-pull"
of something we can almost grasp, yet never fully understand;
the holy presence that is always with us, yet impossibly
beyond our comprehension. And Victoria Logue's "Ichthus"
evokes the mystery of early Christianity: a time when
anything seemed possible, yet nothing was known.
I hope these works will bring
you insight into friendship with God - an
experience that, once we seek it, will surely forever
ECVA Director of Communications