Fusion: The Art of Glass and Grace

“All the arts we practice are apprenticeship.  The big art is our life.” 

–M. C. Richards

The Fusion Retreat that Armandee Drew and I are leading Nov. 15-16th (as part of the Center for Lifelong Learning at Columbia Seminary in Atlanta) uses the metaphor of glass as a way to enrich our spiritual lives. While retreat participants learn new spiritual techniques, they will create a fused dichroic glass art piece as a reminder of the wholeness and unique depth of their spiritual work.

My first Fusion experience was illuminating. I had placed a lifetime of blame on certain people because of child safety issues in my past. Physically walking through my timeline, I realized that this is why I fill with rage when I see children in danger, and why I’ve given my life serving at-risk youth. My brokenness was always working for equilibrium, always trying to maintain the security that I had lost at such a young age. My inner (insecure) self was always screaming: “Notice me!”  This is why I’m so rattled now with what is going on in our world. The things we have held dear and relied on for security seem to be crumbling.

As we “take notice” of the various materials and components in our lives, moving us apart from our creator and each other, the impulse is to work harder, longer, and more fervently. Yet the real power is in solitude. The real power is facing the joys, fears, doubts, and pains and affirming them as the pieces that make us who we are, and bring us to where we need to be.

Our openness, and attentiveness to our inner selves brings us face to face with God’s grace–God’s unmerited favor.

As we attend to the things (experiences, emotions, fears) that have made us who we are and even welcome them, then we can lay them on the kiln floor and ask God to do God’s work, rounding out the sharp edges, subduing the bold colors and bringing forth the overlooked.

God promises that when we offer our lives to the kiln of God’s spirit, the distinct parts of it will be integrated into a unique whole. It’s as if God is saying, “Notice Me. Lay it all out and watch me work.” 

I love the squeals we hear when people take their fused glass  pieces out of the kiln. “How did God do that?” is what they are really expressing. And that is what grace is, isn’t it?  It’s us placing our shards and junk in a pile, and God making something beautiful out of it. God does it every day. But when we take notice and squeal at the absurdity of it all, we are participants in God’s grace. That’s when the connection is made. God gives us favor that we didn’t deserve and we finally take notice.

When we notice our life as a work of God’s art, it is a step into graceful living. And when we see it happening over and over again, we start to see with a new set of eyes. Before long we want to invite others along on the journey of grace. And as we take action and share the grace we have freely received, we see it playing out on a global level as well.

Join us. You will meet new friends, see with new eyes, and even have a fused glass piece as a way to remember that ours is a God of grace, wonder and hope. God fuses our lives with others to form the most beautiful intricate creations!

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