Stumbling into the Waterfall: 25 Years of Image

To celebrate Image’s twenty-fifth anniversary, we are posting a series of essays from people who have encountered our programs over the years. Today’s post is the first.

I had been living a double life.

Two nights a week, I attended a large evangelical church, where I prayed, sang, and gave my money and time. I led a small group where we spoke fiercely of our spiritual struggles, relationships, careers, and painful pasts.

At the same time, while riding the train downtown to my publishing job every morning, I wrote poems. My notebooks revealed another flavor of faith and struggle, prayer wrought with image and metaphor.

Both of these lives manifested the “real” me, and one was not more valuable than the other. But sustaining two identities with equal passion cannot last long. I’d lived that way through most of college and grad school, and now it was 1999, the thick of adulthood.  Could I bring my two lives together? Could I experience the fullness of millennial joy Prince had promised years ago?

One afternoon at a local Barnes & Noble, I wandered to the newsstand and spotted a new acquisition: Image: A Journal of Arts and Religion. The cover image, Sacrificial Grace by Makoto Fujimura, gripped me with its decided lack of grip. This abstract, color-streaked waterfall “counted” as religious art? I wanted to enter it with my arms open, allow it to drench me with its mystery.

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