Hope RemainsEssays, Social Justice — By Lisa Engen on June 4, 2012 at 8:46 am
I have always been drawn to collage. I love the image of scraped pieces forming together to make something beautiful.
All art tells a story, including writing. I love taking individual words and making them fit together. So often my efforts feel small and thin at first, but then they combine into something thoughtful, something new. I write my first drafts by hand and I revise tediously, at least ten times per work.
Collage art reminds me of writing because sometimes I need to gather immense patience to finish a piece. You need adhesives. I like the idea of something being firmly fitted. Collage is often asymmetric; this is beautiful to me because it is how I often feel, very not symmetrical. I use cutting tools, to sharpen images, like I have to be refined myself. You can use embellishments for collage, but I’m not much of an embellishment girl. When I create, I pay attention to each scrap’s placement in relation to the other pieces. Collages are not single images. They are made up of many pieces.
I was eighteen when I made my first piece; images of people around the world, images of beauty. I kept it close to me wherever I moved, wherever I went. I kept looking, staring, and dreaming that others could know hope.
Every time I looked something stood out differently than the time previous.
I stood surprised how muted things rose out of the background and how mismatched pieces combined to make a picture whole.
On Wednesday evenings I experience a living collage of God’s people. Mismatched forms occupy spaces in a dimly lit sanctuary, alongside wooden pews. Votive candles flicker on the round tables. Plain napkins hold lines of cookies set beside mugs with rising heat. In small offerings of prayer they speak of their lives made up of vulnerable threads.
One who once slept on a rescue mission bed seeks remembrance for those beds at winter capacity. Those who step into lines for food seek to help others into the line before themselves. Someone remembers being hungry as a child and cries out that other children need not know that pain. Their own belonging s are sparse, yet they work together to gather material resources for a single mother in an empty apartment. Many struggle with illness and they offer transportation, walking companions, counsel through paperwork, and company to not be alone. A young woman finds someone willing to help with the maintenance of her car. Some speak for their friends beside them who cannot mentally form words. One will travel to visit a son in juvenile detention and a mismatched form will go alongside him.
Perhaps the combined tears they have cried could not be gathered by human hands. They have known hard living days and nights unfolding again and again.
Then the Bible opens, for those pressed into ashes is hope even visible?
No one answers a question in solitude. A voice sounds and then another phrase, another opinion turning, scraps of voice, pieces forming into something beautiful.
To close, a bent body of many lived years straightens and a voice of angelic proportion rises in praise.
In mercy, scraps of brokenness when placed together form beauty.
Hope remains. There is always hope.