Youth Sunday

Homily 1Midnight Road in Chattanooga by Aaron Kearns

I was in the car with my parents, driving home from Chattanooga. Now, usually with these late night drivings I would just pass out while listening to music, but that day, I decided to pull out my video camera and shoot some clips of the highway. I didn’t really know what I would use it for at the time.

Back at home, I loaded the clips into my computer, and then just left them there to sit. This past Saturday, I was looking through some of my older shoots and rediscovered the driving clips. Watching them again, I saw some potential for a video poem of sorts. Though the film is now only a minute long, I originally had over an hour and a half of footage of the night highway. Oh the many wonders of movie editing (and spare time) indeed.

The main idea behind the film, was to recreate the experience of a long monotonous drive. With memories of it fading, the dream like state of the (almost) empty road, how things began to blend together as time slows down to a state of almost stopping and suspended animation. This film, has a story behind it, much like many other works of art out there.

Many well known and acclaimed works of art tell stories of casual scenes. The Starry Night, Bedroom in Arles, even the Mona Lisa. Even photography can have the same effect of making something interesting out of something so normal. That doesn’t include all photography obviously. “Selfies” (yeah, that’s what them kids call it nowadays) don’t exactly make the best subjects for an art museum.

What goes through the mind of the artist? What inspires them, what motivates them? I obviously can’t speak for all artists out there, but communication is the leading motive for me. Telling a story, through any kind of medium, without the limits that reality forces on us. Political cartoons, being a good example, take real situations and/or scenarios going on at the time and express the thoughts of the said artist. Ralph Steadman (one of my favorite artists) is a perfect example.

Art also is based heavily on the experiences of the artist. The experiences can vary, from everyday occurrences to major life changing events. Acclaimed author Kurt Vonnegut based his masterpiece Slaughterhouse-Five off of his traumatic memories of the war. Just about any moment can be made into art if looked at in the right way, as a way to communicate about a personal truth, to tell about how the artist sees it. Vonnegut showed the dark side of war, and Debussy recreated a quiet moonlit night through a piano piece.

Many people think that art is restricted to filmmaking and painting, drawing, writing, etc. But it isn’t.  Art isn’t a specific club you have to join by following a set of rules.  It’s something important to life. It’s creativity. So, what are you best at?  What do you like to do to express your creativity?


Homily 2Kintsukuroi by Emma Antenen

Most often, life flows from one moment to the next, but I also have faced devastations and outright traumas that left me wrecked. In those moments, I have wondered what would become of the pieces. I am the broken pieces of my experience.

Kintsukuroi means “to repair with gold”; the art of repairing broken pottery with gold or silver lacquer. The art is often associated with an understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken and repaired. In the learning about Japanese art of kintsukuroi, I fell in love with the beauty of being broken apart and what can follow. It is a poetic metaphor for life.

My mothers were together for 16 years, separating when I was eight years old. When they told me, my first question was “Will we still be a family?” My moms reassured me even though they wouldn’t be living in the same home, we would remain as one. They went further to talk about different types of families and in separating; we would become yet another type of family, but family all the same. Following the separation, my moms maintained a good relationship and we would often have “family dinners” with all of us attending. In time I healed from my parent’s divorce.

I often speak with deep gratitude for the “bad” events of my life. Although each seemed difficult if not impossible to surpass, I grew stronger in the course of simply staying the course. I met people of significance I would not have otherwise, I gained necessary power, or I turned in another direction taking me down a path I needed to discover. In this, I have become truly thankful for the trials I have come through and definitely my life has become more gratifying.

In having been broken open, I realize I am not ruined, rather a willow, twisting, weeping….budding into green. Spring green, lime and forest, richly nourishing myself with the earth. I survived to see my scars turn silver, their pattern telling stories across my face, hands, arms, and legs. Their pattern a road map by which to remember my past. I am Kintsukuroi.

When something breaks us, we often lose the will to stay engaged in our lives. We lose the will to breathe. Sometimes, we even lose the will to live, but the idea of finding the blessings in being broken and healing can help see us through the most difficult of times.

Time and the will to survive are great equalizers. Eventually, remembering to breathe will come more naturally, disbelief will evolve into acceptance, and the deep ache of loss or trauma will transform into happier times. Although the fractures may never disappear, a certain beauty from this of will emerge. The new fractures in the shattered bowl of our life will be filled with the love that remains. I know this to be true. I am Kintsukuroi. I. Am. Reborn.


Homily 3How It’s Made by Connor Jones

Today, we have spoken to you of finding beauty and healing in times of pain, and discussed art as a concept. A sort of connection between the artist and the audience through shared experiences. However, the theme of the service today is embracing the artist in all of us, and I think the question is no longer what is it, but how is it done? How do I become an artist?

In a few, simple words, you have to know your emotions and your medium, and then make the two worlds meet. But obviously this doesn’t just happen. You have to work like you would for anything ultimately rewarding, because what you get on the other end is called an aesthetic experience. An aesthetic experience affects us emotionally, and usually reminds us of of something from our pasts. My favorites are getting chills when you hear a song, feeling something old and familiar when you go home, or when a baby reaches out and grabs your finger. The emotions we feel are what keep us going, because all the other stuff we do is essentially just book-keeping. So, in an attempt to help you find an aesthetic experience, I’ve got a few few tips to make it more enjoyable.

Be a part of the community. You aren’t as unique as you think you are; there are other people who express themselves in the same way that you find best, The only difference is skill level and focus.

Learn to observe these others, rather than comparing yourself to them. Find things you want to emulate.

The means determine the ends; the process should represent the product.

Failure is inevitable. Your reaction in not so inflexible.

You get out what you put in, and it’s about working smart, not hard.

I suggest these things because they work for me. I encourage you to experiment, and, above all, have fun with it.