Friday, September 19, 2008

Some thoughts from my latest Ayuda Arts Update

Creative Work in the Midst of Violence
September has arrived again. We greet the fall excited about what this next year will hold for Ayuda's Community Arts Program. We continue to hold out our collaborative creative work as an important part of what Ayuda (meaning "help" in Spanish) is about. As we have prepared our themes for this year, we have decided to turn our intent gaze into the violence that surrounds us and abides within us. Violence is dangerous territory. Alone, violence has the ability to reduce our lives to a base level existence. Once there, there is one purpose: survival. Our days become two-dimensional where we hide to avoid the intrusion of the violence that exists outside us and we seek distraction to avoid wrestling with the violence we find in ourselves.

The 16th chapter of Ezekiel describes God finding an unwanted child exposed to its environment striving for survival. "No one looked on you with pity or had compassion... rather, you were thrown out into the open field, for on the day you were born you were despised. Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, as you lay there in your blood I said to you, 'LIVE!'" This allegory continues to describe how God bathes, clothes, adorns, and feeds the child with the finest of foods.
This is our God who encounters one discarded and restores worth and beauty.

Ayuda's mission statement speaks of revealing Jesus' restoration: restoring our souls to that Community which created it; restoring the humanity of one person relating to another; restoring voice to our inner search for identity and worth. Ayuda's persistence in doing creative work restores beauty to our community, which lies in danger of operating only from the pale necessity of survival.

"The dichotomy between beauty and necessity has always been a false tension. Yet as a distraction, it has been extremely effective at crippling our power to bring full-bodied, earth-rending change. In our line of work, the task of stoking our vision and constantly imagining possibilities is absolutely essential." - Dee Dee Risher, former editor at The Other Side.

We believe that creative work resists the heaviness of violence and brings about an imaginative engagement with possibilities beyond survival. At Ayuda, we feel brokenness. Our work is to daily choose restoration through that which is beautiful. And we invite you along.

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