Inside: James K.A. Smith on art, solitude, and quarantine. Rachel Sturges on what we don’t tell kids about God. A conversation with Diane Glancy on the brokenness of language, her love of long-distance driving, and the loneliness of being Native and Fundamentalist, and much more . . .
Summer Stage Series
The Image Summer Stage is lively series of free online events with something for everyone in the Image community. Twice a week, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, we will present an eclectic mix of programming that features our editors and contributors from all over the world.
Home Alone Together
Every week for the next three months, twenty-five artists from around the world will contribute one photograph from a different part of their living spaces. Together, these photographs—whether taken in a kitchen, bedroom, or looking out a window—will articulate a new, collective picture of home in a time of pandemic.
Redeeming the Time
It’s not an accident that art finds us in these moments, or that we find art. Each week as part of our series “Redeeming the Time,” we will publish original essays, poems, and works from our editors and editorial advisors that speak to our current moment.
Like the strange paradox of social distancing, where we step away from our neighbors in order to protect them, so the artist loves the world by retreating from it. The art of solitude is ultimately social.
Noah and his family pretend not to see the children on the boat. Children, teenagers, some tiny, some large and hairy, a wild pack who slide through the debris tunnels or hide in the great room eleven cubits down. Who did they throw overboard to make room?
No thing made
or unmade, or born or yet to be, can separate us from the Love
that drew us forth from weave to know the weave and return to it.
I too half-curled, half-clutched
in bedclothes, writing the light full
then fitful as it ascends into cloud drift,
warm snarls of will among fluid states
I remember when those hands were furnaces burning in the hearts of celestial bodies. I watched the very dust fall to earth and become you.
The orchard blooms,
and strangers tend, in wooded plots (or tombs),
blue nightshade, to the bitter end of gene.
How does this resound in my heart, Lord? Do you hear it? It’s the sound of my shovel hitting those aluminum markers.
We will be the young tufts of spring.
My shadow will lay itself down over yours, reader.
We will not cut ourselves open any longer.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture,
overtaken by another giddiness.
Because we die, we all die, and the oak lives,
those imagined rings like so many glasses
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Once upon a time I thought belonging just happened, was angry or ashamed when I couldn’t experience it. But togetherness happens with practice and intention. It takes everything: pain, grief, rage, as well as my good intentions. This is even more evident now: though physically distanced from my church, I feel less alone in the body of Christ than I ever have before.
But quarantining inside two small rooms in a retirement village has more than the intended, necessary consequence. Quarantine is a muffler, it is a black-out shade. It is the space between a daughter and her father. The singular. The plural.
The death of George Floyd has shown once again how urgent and necessary systemic change is. In many cases, attacking a monument should not be seen as undesirable collateral damage, like looting a TV. Instead, these attacks are like gashes in the self-satisfied veneer of democracy and respectability, creating room for new narratives. In this case, immutable preservation is the actual violence.
And then I wonder: is this the quiet that dominates the life of all those people in hiding as well? The smallness, the excessive focus on detail, the mind going around in ever smaller circles? Will deeper thoughts and grand narratives only make themselves heard after this is all over?
In these days of world pandemic caused by something that can’t be seen by the naked eye, I’m coming around to seeing this song as one of faith in our interconnectedness, our interconnectivity. The songs and drumming drifting down from balconies to fill the streets in Rome can be heard echoing from rooftops and windows in Barcelona to Budapest, Ankara to Panama, New York City to Gurgaon. We all sing the same song, though in different keys.