The following is a step towards the culmination of a project sponsored by Rabbit Room called Pass the Piece. If you’d like to view what has been so inspiring for me, you may access the content of this year’s Hutchmoot Homebound through this weekend (Oct 28-31) beginning Thursday, HERE. (Note: You have to pay for the content, but it is so worth it.) You may never have thought you’d ever read a sentence like the one you just read. “Hutchmoot Homebound”? I want to challenge you that if you don’t know what you just read to “be curious.” There will be payoffs. If you do get access to the content, check out the Pass the Piece pages in the website’s Art Studio. It will bless your socks off!
After the Hutchmoot weekend in early October, a collaborative art project began in which artists were paired with other artists (much like a Secret Santa gift exchange). Each participant drew a name and for that drawn name, the artist drawing the name was to make something to pass on a piece of art to the artist whose name they drew. The receiving artist would then add to, augment, complete, respond to, you name it… the piece of art they received. Having participated in projects somewhat like this, I know how inspiring they can be. There is something about receiving and responding that resembles the surprise of grace. And, much like grace, the collaboration and responses don’t merely double the efforts, they exponentialize them. That is, the effort doesn’t merely become a multiple of efforts and creativity, but the end the product feels more like an exponent of the two.
At any rate, I was fortunate enough to have been paired with visual artist Dawn Waters Baker whose website you must visit and whose speaking engagements you must view. You will be blessed by her take on art and faith. You can find her online at www.dawnwatersbaker.com.
Through a bit of messaging back and forth and some personal discernment, Mrs Baker settled on Job as the subject of her piece which is titled, “In the Land of Uz.” In her painting, Dawn uses both color and imagery to communicate both the profound sadness of Job as well as points to the reconciliation at the end of the book. You can view the piece and read some of her comments on her Instagram page HERE.
In order to share both the artwork and the poetry I wrote in response to her work, I created a video in which you may view her beautiful painting and listen to the poetry.
Lastly, I just need to say how grateful I am to Dawn and her thoughtful engagement with a difficult subject like the book of Job and for her generosity in sharing such beautiful talent and art. My being able to work through and respond to her work has exponentialized blessing in me, and in a season which has felt so austere, this feels abundantly lavish. Thank you, Dawn.
You may view the video and poetry it inspired below.
Act I Now there was a day In the land of Uz When everything I loved was taken away, And as the sun went down I sat on the ground Of this dried, dead wilderness Of desert brown-- Dry as my eyes That cannot cry anymore. And here ‘neath this leafless tree I wonder if I will ever be Whole again, if I would ever want or live to see Another day. The sky turned from yellow-orange to red, And the crimson gave way To the darker hues of violence-- The violet, black and blues Of the beating I’d taken that day. What did I do for this? Why was I stripped? Is leaving all that is left, To mark one by one a death and a death And another death, another leaving? Is grieving the only way I’ll remember my love For those who died today? I thought if I clung to you That you would keep me from the Beasts Of grief and fear. Is that not true? What good then does clinging do? What’s the point if you won’t keep me From these things? If you will not shield me with your limbs Lean over, cover and shelter me? © Randall Edwards, 2021 Pass the Piece Project 2021 Ekphrastic poem in response to “In the Land of Uz” © Dawn Waters Baker 2021, 6x8 oil on aluminum panel
Act II Now there was a day In the land of Judah When the Love who is everything was taken away. And the sun went down On a mother who fell to the ground Outside the walls of a dried, dead town of desert brown-- dry as her eyes that could not cry anymore. And here ‘neath this cruel tree She wonders if she will ever be Whole again, if she will ever see him Alive someday. The sky turned from yellow-orange to red, And the crimson gave way To the day’s darker hues of violence The violet, black, and blue Of the beatings they gave him that day. What did He do for this? Why was He stripped, Made into a game by those who bet for all he had left, While she counts each cry, one by one Till his last breath? To them, she was just another mother grieving. Is grief the only way She’ll remember Love-- The Love she bore and who died this day? I never thought that I would see My son murdered so ruthlessly. In all the years I never thought in my heart That this would be the part He’d play, That of all days, this day, Would become His wedding day. How could I have known when I asked That He was waiting till the last So that on this tree Stretched out like a vine He would give himself as the best wine For me. © Randall Edwards, 2021 Pass the Piece Project 2021 Ekphrastic poem in response to “In the Land of Uz” © Dawn Waters Baker 2021, 6x8 oil on aluminum panel
Act III There will be a day When the Love worth everything Will return everything taken away. There will be no fading light. As life rises from the green ground, That which was dried and dead shall teem with life And every tear found, wiped from our eyes. There beside the River, ‘neath a boulevard of trees, We shall walk in an arbor of peace, In the shade of leaves which fall In healing on you and me. And in that dappled light we shall see, See, as He sees us. The sky breaks with the red and orange-yellow of day, The crimson calls to us: Rise, O Sleeper. Rise! Awake! And the darker hues of the violence, The violet, black, and blue of beatings taken Will slough off and be shaken away. Did He who was hanged on the tree Do this for you and me? The One who still bears those scars? Will we, the blessed meek, find everything ours? Stunned by this bliss. In silence we’ll wonder, What on earth did we do to deserve this? There it will be asked of us, Do you see? That all which you bore was borne by me? That what you were left to do I did not deny myself? That I too was not kept from those things? That on that tree I clung to you, And by it leaned in love, Leaned over to cover and shelter you And hide you in me. © Randall Edwards, 2021 Pass the Piece Project 2021 Ekphrastic poem in response to “In the Land of Uz” © Dawn Waters Baker 2021, 6x8 oil on aluminum panel