By Alison Batley
“We are only pencils in the hand of God.” — Mother Theresa
In one my favorite books, The Reed of God, Carol Houslander asks each of us to discover what kind of empty form has God shaped us to be?
In reflecting on our Lady’s virginal emptiness, Houslander invites us to and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to each one of us the purpose for which we were made. Energized by this challenge, I push through my fear and started asking God to show me the form of my purposeful emptiness.
I reflected deeper on my calling as an artist and a teacher, asking God to reveal to me what kind of object would best represent me? At Mass the next day, I saw anew the ideal form for me in the hands of a child bringing up the water in the cruet at the offertory.
On further reflection, this humble vessel was the perfect visual metaphor. Open to receive, water is poured into its spout and then emptied out to give sacrificial life to others in an infinite rhythm of receptivity and self-giving. This little transparent vessel, created to purify and to add a drop of humanity to Christ’s sacrifice through the mingling of water and wine inspires me towards agape love.
This transfiguring love reminded me of a little note I received from a beloved Dominican Sister on the Feast of Artist in the Jubilee Year. Her words helped me to solidify my vocation as an artist and a teacher. Superimposed on the vessel in the diptych image (above), these words keep me on my knees each day asking God to give me the grace to live out my sanctification through this calling.
My response comes in the little vocation statement written in my own blood on the petal-like silk tissue. Down poring water enters, in the second image, uniting my words to the Baptism Christ offered me at my rebirth as an infant. My communion veil, made from my mother’s bridal veil, encircles the vessel with white laurels reminding me of my all-consuming experience with Christ in the Eucharist.
I unite my blood with the sacrifice of Christ in the first image of the Triptych (above) as the crimson drip enters the neck of the Cruet. This blood is poured out in the next image as we are called to empty ourselves in our self-giving to others. The final image shows the empty, spent vessel, and stained with marks of the passion. Drained, it rests in a posture of receptivity. The vessels only purpose is to receive the rivers of living water again and, with grace, I pour myself out again, to quench his thirst. As He Thirsts on the cross, how is Christ asking you to pour yourself out this week?
May this reflection inspire you to reflect on your own lives and to discover more deeply the purpose for which you were created? What kind of vessel did God create you to be?
Image 1: “I Thirst…”
Image 2: “I Pour”