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I am not a visual artist.
I am not a sculptor, painter, or photographer.
I do, however, appreciate the work of those whose gifts make these works accessible to the world.
One of my daughters is a professional artist.
She has taken the time to teach me about the background, focal point, light, and other factors that enhance the depth and nature of visual art.
My first dad/daughter lesson occurred at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
We stood arm’s length from one of Monet’s Water Lily paintings.
Positioned nearby, my daughter invited me to observe the direction of strokes, the thickness and texture of the paint, and the unique blotting of colors against the background.
We moved across the room – more than once – and studied the same canvas from different angles.
She told me the story of Monet’s multiple visits to the same pond to enjoy and play with the everchanging light on water and flora.
There are hundreds of pieces of art at the Metropolitan.
We spent hours staring at this one, familiar canvas.
In recent years, we’ve made our way to other museums and other canvases.
My love for art has continued to evolve.
My daughter’s attentiveness to the visual has helped me bring varied and deeper attention to the verbal.
I love words, phrases, and paragraphs the way she loves hues, shades, patterns, and textures.
With this in mind, I want us to stare at the creation narratives together – those familiar first chapters of the Bible.
Genesis 1 and 2 are like two canvases of the same water lilies captured in a different light.
Like fine art, they beckon our deeper attention.
Our focus on the context, structure, patterns, stroke lines, and texture of these two stories, will no doubt have us looking at all biblical texts from varying constructive angles.
The stories will come alive in ways that will make you smile, help you better understand the faith community, explore your spirituality, and relax into the multi-faceted, mysterious nature of God.
Years ago, I was staring at these wordy works of art with a fellow minister.
Our faith development process and our denominational heritages could not have been further apart.
I was drawn to all things liturgical, reverent, and distant.
He and God were best buddies in the charismatic comfort of choruses and favorite verses.
We forged a faith friendship through our common study of these embryonic earth stories.
I’ve also seen these stories calm church conflicts, provide a connection for conversation among diverse world religions, and calm more than one soul – including my own.
I know there are a lot of stories in our huge Bible to read, but I’m inviting you to come to stare at these two creation stories for a few hours. You’ll never read the others in the same way.
Register for the Creation Through a New Lens course here.
Rev. Dr. Jim Dant is senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Greenville, SC.