One of the things I love about John August Swanson’s art is the attention he gives to the beautiful world around us. In his serigraphs and paintings, the night sky sparkles with a vast multitude of stars. Or a glimmer of dawn or twilight gilds the horizon. Or billowing clouds reflect the colors of a sunset. Meanwhile, the rolling hills are full of the rich and varied greens of leaves and grasses. Flowers, fruits, and grains are growing, being harvested, or given as gifts. Animals are depicted with great attention to detail. The landscape is so evocative, one can almost hear the breezes blowing and the birds singing.
Our sunrise gathering in the meditation garden on Easter Sunday (6:15 a.m. on April 16) will be a little bit like bringing a Swanson painting to life. We’ll gather when the morning star may still be visible, and the sky will lighten as we worship. We’ll come from our homes with the intent of celebrating Christ’s resurrection together. Birds will awaken chirping or fall asleep gently hooting. The bright green leaves of spring, and the faces of our fellow worshipers will increasingly come into focus. The gurgling fountain will echo the joy in our hearts. And, as if all that isn’t enough, the gifts from field, farm, and bakery will be hot coffee and cinnamon rolls. Some of us will stand, and some sit, as we sing, pray, and recount the Christian story of new life and the overflowing generosity of God.
Another day I look forward to with great anticipation will come at the end of the month. We are amazingly fortunate that John August Swanson himself is going to pay us a visit! Seven of his works have been on loan to us since the beginning of Lent (three in the narthex and four in the Aldersgate room) and our experience of the season has been immensely enriched by their presence. Now it is coming to pass that two of the works are finding a permanent home among us. The Hollander family is in process of purchasing and donating “Take Away the Stone” and “Entry into the City” as a gift in memory of Gene and Cathryn. Mr. Swanson will be with us on Sunday, April 30, in conjunction with our morning worship services, as we dedicate the gift and increase our understanding of his artistic vision.
Thanks be to God for Easter joy!