Part 2 of an Interview with Warren Traynor, Pastor of Family and Care Ministries, Christ Community Church, Leawood Campus, Leawood KS, reflecting on the painting entitled “Engaging”
“Time to Consider, Reflect, Ponder, Process, Dig Deeper into our Story”
Warren: I like this painting “Engaging”, as I’ve looked through your website several times, and I think of all the pictures you’ve done, and I love many, many of them, but of all of them, this one to me….really when you said ‘hey, I want you to talk about this one’, I went, ‘you couldn’t have picked a better one’. Because when I look at this picture, it appears to be a child, but it doesn’t have to be a child, and it appears to be a boy, but it doesn’t have to be a boy, and so it’s universal, and I love that. It looks like a sunset, but it could also be a sunrise, and when I look at that, I think two things: One, it makes me reflect, because I think often this is a moment when the sun is setting, there is a stillness on the air, and it’s a time to reflect. It’s a time to process, it’s a time to consider and ponder and to maybe dig out deeper things, and so I see a young boy or man, cause I genderize to me, looking obviously not just at what is ahead of them, but at his surroundings. People need to be surrounded in that, not in isolation, because they’re never alone, God is always there, but we need these moments of aloneness so that we can reflect and truly get ahold of ourselves.
Second, the way his head is kind of on the shoulders says ‘I’m reflecting” and it says “I’m wondering” and “ I’m questioning”. I love that there’s obviously something off in the distance, and I immediately think, I reflect and I go ‘what’s out there, what’s coming?’ ‘where am I going?’ and when you start asking those questions, those start to create the meaning of life questions, we start to ask ourselves, ‘ok, where am I headed?” What is that? So it’s a curiosity thing.
In The Journey** we talk about being curious about your story. When you’re reflecting, you have an opportunity to be curious, and that’s what I see here. I see this young figure looking out, pondering being curious. And I think if we’re curious, we’re learning and we’re desiring to figure it out. When we do that, good things happen. So I love that. I also consider it being a sunrise and I see it as full of hope asking ‘what’s the day going to bring?’. When I consider it a sunset, I think of things like peace, and tranquility, and those things made me feel restful and ok with the world around me, and with myself, because that’s really important to be ok with yourself. This tells me that something bigger than me is in control, and that’s huge. In this case, I feel it’s beyond my reach. I’m not in charge of it moving, I’m not in charge of the color of it, I’m not in charge of what’s being done; it’s there and a reminder that something is bigger than me. We all need that because in our broken moments, when we reflect on things that aren’t calming, that aren’t peaceful, that are struggles, the idea that there’s something bigger is critical. That’s so important because when we have that, then Rosemary, we can put things in the proper perspective. That’s why, when I look at this, I just love everything about this picture.
You could look at it and just say ‘ok, that’s really nice, it’s a nice landscape, or seascape, whatever’, but no, it’s so much more than that. I think people see things in art, and I think sometimes in art, if they will allow themselves to embrace it, it can really guide them in thinking, and in processing. I think that’s what you’ve been able to do, and I see that not just in this picture, but in other pictures on your site, you’re inviting people in.
A picture can get hung on the wall, and people look at it and say ‘that’s a nice picture, I like the color’, or whatever. It’s also important to wonder what’s the artist looking at, what do they see, what are they trying to capture in this. I think when we do that, the picture is more meaningful to us. I think that’s what makes art, in the form of a portrait or painting or photograph, so captivating. It speaks to us.
In my experience in gallery settings, while others may hurry from one piece to another, there would always be someone looking at the art piece in a deeper way. Obviously that art touched something deep inside of them. It made them want to linger, made them want to kind of let that piece of artwork dwell in them and speak to them, and it probably, I would say, brought out emotions and feelings. It touched a part of their story in some shape, form, texture or color, maybe it invoked a memory, maybe the artwork created a smell, maybe it connected with all of their other senses, not just their visual, and as a result they lingered there. They wanted that piece of art to speak to them, so to speak. They would then take so much from it. Even if they wouldn’t own if for whatever reason, and I understand that can’t always be, but for a moment they could interact with that piece of art. That art did something deep within their soul. I think that’s a role art can play and should play. I love it when artwork is meaningful, it has touched them; it has a purpose or a point. It’s interesting because if people could slow down, take a deep breath and say ‘what can I learn from this piece of art, from this photograph, from what the artist is trying to do’, then I think good things can happen.
In children’s ministry you realize kids are not auditory learners. They learn with all of their senses, and so if you fail to teach with all of those senses, you’re going to miss it. So the more senses I can engage in a learning scenario, the more likelihood they’re going to retain that and grow from it. That’s why that background in children’s ministry allows me to minister to adults in better ways.
When we become adults, we dismiss learning, to a point where we think learning is all auditory; that’s not true. We learn through all of our senses all of our life, and for some reason when we grow up we have a tendency to dismiss all of the other ways of learning except auditory. I think more and more and more, when you have all the forms of learning, visual, and auditory, and tactile and all those different forms of learning, I think that’s where you touch people really profoundly. Recently Dan Allender who wrote a book, “The Wounded Heart”, has been working with a group that has created a movie called “The Heart of Man”; it’s not out to be viewed yet, but I was lucky to see a preview of the movie. It tells the gospel story in a way that is amazing and it connects around sexual brokenness and around other brokenness. The music and the soundtrack is profound. It immerses us in more of our learning styles, the visual, auditory, music, touching themes deep within us, creating this emotional connection and vulnerability and understanding, so I can’t wait to see this movie on the big screen in a theater.
Rosemary: One of the reasons I love Disney is because I’m so amazed and passionate about how they tell story. When I look Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Frozen, the list goes on, there is so much to learn on so many levels that grab you at the child level, that engage the child in us, and bring you through that story so that you learn deeply. A lot of people are Disney fans, but others may feel they are too ‘adult’ to learn from these movies, or don’t take the time, or have simply forgotten their value.
Warren: As adults, we get cynical, and we put on lots of layering, lots of walls, and so we kind of dismiss all that…we think we’re too old, we’re too mature. But in reality, those things will still speak deeply to us. If they would slow down and stop and engage, it could speak to them in a new way. That’s what I think – that’s the power that The Journey Classes have – to get people to engage. I think that’s the power that art has – to get people to engage. I think when we say engage, we have to ask engage in what. I think the best engagement we can ever have, period, is to engage first and foremost within ourselves, and then within our own world, and then with our Creator. A lot of people would go ‘well, engage with our Creator, that’s number one’. Yea that is, but that’s not normally how we get there. We don’t’ normally – we say it because God first, we start with God. But what happens is then sometimes it’s like looking at a picture and we go ‘Oh I like that color’ and then we move on. But if we will start to engage ourselves and ponder and think and consider, and then engage our world, and ponder and think and consider, then when we get to God it’s different. Then our engagement with God is deeper, it’s more meaningful. It’s restorative, it’s healing, it’s all the things that lead us to human flourishing. I think that’s the power of The Journey, of art, of movies and of music, to help us if we will stop and linger and engage. We begin to get ahold of ourselves, and then we begin to get a better understanding and a hold of our world. And then when we put that in context of our Creator God, we then have more answers, and we’ve arrived at that through a deeper reflection and a deeper understanding because then we can truly say “God, what do you want me to learn from my world? What do you want me to learn from MY story, so that I can flourish?” And then you can turn that around and apply it to anything.
**The Journey is a 9-week class developed by Open Hearts Ministries, Kalamazoo Michigan.
Join us as we look at a Disney® “Beauty and the Beast” youtube short next week, beginning Feb. 27th, and consider how “Love is Transformative”.
Pictured above: Giclee Wrap of “Engaging” available at www.BegleyArt.com