Art and Prayer

New Year’s Retreat: January 6

We’re just days away from 2024—a new year, a chance for a fresh start, a time to refine our perspective, an opportunity to set our course for the next twelve months. Or… to do nothing and continue on whatever default path we’ve been following.

Of course there’s nothing inherently special about January 1st. It’s not like the winter solstice, when the days cease becoming shorter and slowly start lengthening. And it’s not like that glorious day when the first spring blossom bursts forth with its promise of riotous color and exuberant birdsong to come. Despite that lack of inherent meaning, I like to take the turning of one calendar year to the next as an annual reminder and opportunity to evaluate where I’ve been and where I’m going, with the hope that I will live mindfully and with attention to all that is most important to me in the coming year.

We all have hopes and dreams, or maybe fears for the next 12 months. Much is unknown to us and beyond our control, but there’s also much that we can know and some that we can influence. We can have the certainty of knowing we are in God’s loving care, and that all our days are known to him. But with health concerns, a challenging economy, and general world and societal turmoil it can be easy to feel at loose ends and anxious about what lies ahead, looking back with regret and forward with fear… unless we allow our minds to slow down and we take time to draw into God’s presence. Sometimes it’s easier to do that in the presence of others who are also seeking God’s presence, so you are invited to a day of retreat and reflection, a day of looking back with gratitude and forward with hope.

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways…
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!   (Psalm 139:1-3, 17)

Every aspect of creation bears marks of its Creator, signs pointing to the ongoing presence, stability and love of God, who is still watching over and sustaining this world through all the turmoil of this present time. For myself, I find that sketching or writing as I observe creation can be one pathway to seeing God’s fingerprints in the world around me and becoming aware of his presence. And when I become aware of God’s presence, I am drawn into prayer, either with words or in silent communion with and worship of the Master Artist and Author of our faith. I hope you will join me in seeking God at the start of 2024, so that we can encourage one another now and throughout the coming year.

In this retreat we will open our sketchbooks or journals, eyes and hearts to God’s presence and look with faith into the world around us to see God’s touch, as we draw apart for a few hours from our responsibilities and worries to rest in his presence.

Saturday, January 6, 2024
9:45 AM – 3:00 PM
Immanuel Church
Wappingers Falls, NY

We will alternate brief times of sharing with periods of silence and solitude.

All are welcome, men & women, artists & nonartists. Email me ( for more details and to register.

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