That’s the solar calendar. On the liturgical calendar, we’re already a week into the long, long stretch of ordinary time that runs from Trinity Sunday, this past Sunday, through November’s celebration of the Reign of Christ Sunday and the beginning of Advent on the last Sunday in November — November 27 this year. If it’s true that “when you’re green, you’re growing,” these months of ordinary time should be a stretch of growth for those of us tuned in to the rhythms of the church year.
On the academic calendar, the bass beat for the dances of seminarians, teachers, and mothers of school-age children, this is still the heat of summer in every way. It’s the brief, intense time for team sports and competitions, summer camp with its provisioning, packing, and packing-off-to, tending to gardens, getting in some afternoons at the county pool or some hours at the local library. For some it’s the time of packing, moving, re-organizing and re-structuring, taking a deep breath and taking the plunge into a new movement of the dance.
In the Women’s Center we notice all these rhythms, as each day brings us closer to the events of the Fall: Katie Geneva Cannon Lecture, September 18, and the Post-Lecture Events of Monday, September 19; the Louisville AIDS Walk the following week, Sunday, September 25; a series of lunch-hour talks with Louisville-area clergywomen, on the delights and demands of life in a religious profession; the Transgender Day of Remembrance, Sunday, November 20; 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence (November 25 – December 10), for which we are hoping to do something . . . active; and of course, more fundraising, in the form of the Evening with the Stars Benefit, and the now-becoming-traditional Fall Arts and Crafts Sale.
We recognize that the days, even though they still seem long, sunny and warm, are growing shorter daily. We appreciate their tremendous potential for reflection, deliberation, learning, and growth. And we know that they are limited, and for that reason, precious: the summer doesn’t last forever. Nor would we want it to. One day in August, we know from experience, we will notice that leaning towards the fall that is anticipation and desire for its new beginning. For now, though, we are trying to make hay while the sun of this long day is shining, and to cultivate what is green and growing now, so that it will be fruitful, and nourishing, in the days to come.Among the green and growing things we are cultivating this summer is our annual fund! You can help by making a contribution to the Women’s Center during our Summer Donation Days!
You can go to OUR ONLINE DONATION SITE, the LPTS Online Donation Site (designate your gift to the Women’s Center), or send your check payable to LPTS – WOMEN’S CENTER FUND to The Women’s Center at Louisville Seminary, 1044 Alta Vista Rd., Louisville, KY 40205.
After pricing and setting up yesterday — a round of thankful applause goes to friends Blair, Brian, Christie, Daniel, and James for their assistance in this department! — we’re convinced this will be one of the more interesting sales of recent years. We have a particularly extensive and varied selection of knitted goods, and of jewelry, in addition to original art works, unique imports, and an extraordinary table of ceramics. So we encourage everyone who can to come by and browse. And buy, too — since proceeds from the sale benefit the Women’s Center and help fund our ongoing program.
This year, it will actually be possible for shoppers to use their credit cards, if they wish, in a limited way. [We hasten to add that we advocate shopping responsibly!] The Women’s Center’s online site is ready to sell credits good for the purchase of merchandise at the sale. Credits come in $5.00 units, with a 1% handling fee (so, a purchase of $5.05 will buy $5.00 of merchandise at the sale). The credits are non-refundable, however, so we encourage potential users to SHOP FIRST, and buy only the credits they will need. This arrangement is clearly not for everyone, but we thought it might permit some folks to take advantage of the sale who might otherwise not be able to do so.
December 10 is not only the date of the Women’s Center’s Fall Arts and Crafts Sale, however. It is also — admittedly thanks to some advance consultation of the calendar — the date of the Seminary’s annual Lessons and Carols service, followed by Apples for Advent. And this year, due only to the grace of that same calendar, it is also the anniversary of the adoption by the United Nations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“The arts,” it turns out, is a thread of thematic connection between these three seemingly coincidental celebrations. Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says “Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.” Moreover, “Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he [sic] is the author.” That is, the vision of the arts painted by the Declaration of Human Rights is that of a realm of freedom and engagement, within which people may fashion something for their individual or collective benefit. The vision of the arts as beneficial is one that makes us smile.
The annual Lessons and Carols service, too, pulses with the life of the arts — in text, in music, in song and symbol. In the juxtaposition of Biblical words and musical phrases, the mutual reflection of prose and psalmody, this community every year calls to mind and celebrates the profound beauty of the season of advent and the mysterious grace of the incarnation.
It is questionable, in fact, whether that profundity, mystery and grace can speak to us at all except through forms that strive for beauty of expression — that is, through the arts. It is these very forms that recall us to awe in the face of felicitous communions, whether of color or sound or shape, and to delight in those felicities. It is these forms, in the final analysis, that teach us the experience of grace.
When it comes to the ancient distinction between “art” and “craft,” the Women’s Center’s Fall Arts and Crafts Sale probably falls more on the side of the humble crafts than the exalted arts. And yet . . . the humble guise of common things — wool, for instance, or wax or clay — is not finally an obstacle to the experience of grace made possible by spirited form, and the mindful transformation of materials to which it testifies. The experience of grace is, in part, the sudden appreciation of something — however homely its origin — as wonderful, delightful, perfect in its own incomparable way, in the full awareness that it could have been otherwise, and that its particular, gracious way of being comes to us as a gift.
Here’s what the Women’s Center has on its calendar for the month of December:
December 1, World AIDS Day, supporting More Light’s dedicated worship service and information tabling event focused on that event.
We will be enthusiastically and gratefully accepting items for the Fall Arts and Crafts Sale through December 8 (or 9th, if you come to the pricing party and help us price them!)
December 2, attending Lisa Larges’ talk, “Humor, Hospitality, & the Politics of Prefigurement,” 7:30 p.m. in Caldwell Chapel. Lisa Larges is Minister Coordinator of That All May Freely Serve, an organization dedicated to an inclusive church for all who are disenfranchised, a goal that includes the welcome of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people into full membership, including eligibility for ordination to all church functions.
December 3, Lunch with Lisa Larges and informal conversation in the Women’s Center, 12:30 p.m. All are invited to share — in the conversation, and the lunch!
December 9, Pricing party for the Fall Arts and Crafts Sale, 12:00 p.m. until all the items are priced, in the Women’s Center. This will be the last chance to donate items for the Sale, so we hope all crafters and artists will come by the Center. If past experience is any guide, this will be a wild and wooly time of roll-up-your-sleeves fun with a purpose, not to be missed!
December 10, The Women’s Center’s Annual Fall Arts and Crafts Sale, always featuring an amazing variety of treasures from the hands of students, faculty, staff, and friends of the Women’s Center. (Years past have seen everything from watercolor portraits to fresh eggs, with batik, jewelry, glassware, knits, and legendary spaghetti sauce in between.)
The sale takes place in the Winn Center Commons, from 9:00 a.m. until approximately 2:00 p.m. All interested members of the community are invited to help clean up the area after the sale and transport arts, crafts and display materials back to the Women’s Center at that time, for post-sale bargains and festivities.
December 13-17, we wish the students of LPTS well with Research, Study, and Finals!
December 15, Heather Thiessen, Part-time Director of the Women’s Center, will pick up her diploma at the University of Louisville’s Graduate Student Hooding and Award Ceremony, 4:00 p.m. in the Kentucky Yum Center.
December 25, Merry Christmas!
December 31, and a Very Happy New Year! We are especially looking forward to January and this J-term’s Art of Presence with Artist-in-Residence Rev. Cheryl Goodman-Morris and Dr. Johanna Bos.
Oh, and one more thing . . .
The Women’s Center is now happy to be able to serve as the regular Tuesday evening meeting space for a local Engaging Spirituality group, a program of JustFaith Ministries. [updated 12/1/10 18:04]
On Friday December 11 the Women’s Center held its annual Arts and Crafts Sale. Cold weather helped to facilitate the sale of all socks, hats and scarves. We welcome items for the sale throughout the year, so if anyone overlooked the date this time, save your stuff, or make new stuff for the sale next year! There were many beautiful decorative items, pictures, photographs and jewelry. Our sale netted around $1,200, a welcome addition to our funds. We are grateful to all who contributed and all who came to the sale and bought gifts for themselves or others. Carolyn Cardwell Copenhefer of our library staff deserves special mention for helping us out year after year; this year some very pretty Fair Isle hats by her hand graced our tables. All volunteers who helped with the set-up and the take-down, a tedious and time consuming job, receive our grateful thanks. Sherry Arconti of the Academic Support Services Staff went out of her way to help as did many others. All of you, who check out this blog, keep our sale in mind. It is always near the end of classes on the day that the Seminary has its “Lessons and Carols” service, another good reason to come our way. Our items are exceptionally pretty and well made and we price everything slightly lower than one would pay commercially.
This event was the last occasion for which our event-planner Marie McCanless helped to make it all happen. We say farewell to Marie with our gratitude for her work in the Center and with blessings on her future endeavors.
The Fall Arts and Crafts Sale is one of our regular fundraising events, so we always hope for a successful sale. But the sale also allows us to get the Women’s Center out of the Center and into the main thoroughfare of the Seminary community, which we like — taking the Center to the community, rather than always expecting the community to come to the Center, so to speak.
And then, there is an element of depth to the subject matter of the Arts and Crafts sale. (As there is with most things, when one stops to think about it.)
Consider this: the book of Exodus contains 9 chapters or so devoted almost exclusively to the artisanal requirements of the Tabernacle. First the HOLY GOD lays out the exquisitely detailed plans (25-28). Then (after a fling with a golden calf — a kind of negative artisanship, in which Aaron figures as a demented goldsmith) the people bring materials — not just raw materials, but hand-crafted and fabricated ones (35). Finally, artisans are called by name — Bezalel and Oholiab — as having special skill and teaching ability (inspired), and then the work is carried out — again, with a lot of text devoted to the description of the work (36-39).
Without going into the commentary about symbolism of various motifs, numbers, and colors that attaches itself to these descriptions, it seems worth noting this: all this careful human creative work, this art and craft, ultimately becomes a habitation for the presence of the HOLY ONE. At the end of chapter 40, the glorious presence of God of Israel surrounds and fills the sanctuary.
It’s hard to believe that movement — from attentive, dedicated human activity, activity that crafts the stuff of creation into a precise and beautiful form (isn’t that what art is, or part of what art is?), inspired by a vision from “somewhere else”, a vision of what isn’t yet but might be, to the recognition of the presence of the Holy One, with us — is either coincidental, or confined to the time of the ancient Israelites. The practice of art and craft is one of the practices wherein people encounter God.
Well, we’re not saying that people will see God at the Women’s Center’s Fall Arts and Crafts Sale. Exactly.
But our attention to arts and crafts is one way of saying that it is unjust to disparage and disregard this area of human activity — as we people have done for long, in consequence of its association with the feminine. Unjust, and unwise, since artisanry is part of that human work called for and called forth by God, that goes in to crafting the people and the beauty in which God desires to dwell.