The understanding and practice of prayer have greatly shaped the life of our Artist-in-Residence, Stefan Robinson. As he reflects on his faith journey, he notes that it is of critical importance to share with others what has been so transformative in his own life. Many of our students and staff with faith traditions often have a certain way of approaching the discipline of prayer, and a majority of us compartmentalize our lives into categories of how we devote our time--work, school, hobbies, friends, church--and prayer is often kept within one of those compartments.
Stefan feels called as our artist-in-residence to create art and create opportunities for our Baylor community to engage with prayer in new and impactful ways, ways that will allow prayer to crossover and break down the compartments of our life and free us to open ourselves to the gifts we are granted each day and respond unceasingly with a grateful attitude to the One who gives us those gifts. Through these projects, we hope to offer our students and staff ways to think through and to experience and engage in new ways of praying so that they may begin to create new habits of centering their lives around prayer.
Below are a few resources to nurture your study of prayer and encourage you with new thoughts and opportunities:
Essays on Prayer from the Baylor Institute for Faith and Learning's Christian Reflection Project
Books on Various Disciplines, including Prayer from the Spiritual Life Library
During the last week of classes, Stefan Robinson, Baylor Formation's Artist in Residence hand drew and painted a prayer labyrinth for students and staff to use during finals, retreats, worship services, in our work with local churches and any other time. He prayerfully and thoughtfully made the creation of the labyrinth a spiritual practice. Below, you can see the process of painting and read an interview in which Stefan shares his experience and his hope for future use of the labyrinth and additional projects.
1. Briefly, how have art and faith crossed paths in your life?
In Genesis 1, God created everything and then created us in His image, which means that each of us is creative (not just artists). I feel God’s pleasure when I paint, and that is one way I know that I am meant to paint. Each of us are called to something that gives us meaning and purpose, that allows us to more fully experience God’s pleasure. I find creativity and faith crossing paths and becoming one cohesive pathway when I seek what gives my life meaning and purpose.
2. How has walking a labyrinth benefited your faith journey in the past?
There are many beneficial prayer practices, and I have found the prayer labyrinth to be extra helpful. I find that the activity of walking helps me exhale my worries when I am on the journey into the center. Once I reach the center, after giving all my distractions and worries to God, I am able to share a beautifully quiet moment between myself and our living and loving God. Then, during the journey back outward, I give thanks for the abundant gifts God has blessed me with, breathing in the light and love of God. After this activity, I find I am more centered and peaceful in how I live my life.
3. Was creating the labyrinth just as meaningful as walking one? How did you transform the act of painting into something more?
Every step of the way in creating the prayer labyrinth included prayer. This was especially true in its creation. Each line I painted included several layers of prayer for students, parents, siblings, relationships, worries, dreams, goals, and ultimately God’s presence to be active and alive in every space the prayer labyrinth is placed. I asked the Holy Spirit to be present in the making and dwell in the space of the prayer labyrinth because I want the prayer labyrinth to be an invitation for each person to find another way to connect with God. The prayer labyrinth is no longer about the paint nor canvas, but is about each person’s relationship with God.
4. How do you hope Baylor students use this labyrinth during their time here?
I hope that every person that interacts with the prayer labyrinth is able to walk away more centered and more attuned with the presence of God in their lives. God wants to be in relationship with you. He wants to know more about who you are, what you are thinking and feeling. The prayer labyrinth is a simple invitation to share what is going on in your life with God who wants to be with you.
5. What other things do you hope to create during your stint as Artist-In-Residence?
Next we want to create a prayer wall. Our hope is to continue finding ways to help people connect with God in meaningful ways. In the fall, we hope to have an art show about creativity and faith, which would include a forum about creativity and faith. We also want to share a lecture about iconography and the use of sight as an act of worship. If any of these projects sound interesting to you, I would love to talk with you about them. Contact Stefan here.
The practice of placing slips of paper with prayers written on them into the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem was first noted in the 18th century. Prayer walls allow for petitionars to write their prayer and place them on a surface, a way of visualizing and doing something tangible. Prayer walls have since taken a modern turn, created by using wood, fencing materials, chalkboards, post-its and other materials. Several online prayer walls exist and people can even tweet their prayers to be printed and delivered to the Western Wall.
This summer, we are excited to construct several types of prayer walls for use in our chapel, special events, and retreats.