Sketching as Prayer Retreat January 8, 2022

The turning of the calendar provides a context for looking back in evaluation of the year just past and looking forward as we give thought to our trajectory for the coming year. The future is unknown to us, but we can have the certainty of knowing that we are in God’s loving hands, and all our days are known to him. With myriad health concerns and general societal turmoil, though, it can be easy to feel at loose ends and anxious about what lies ahead, unless we take time to draw into Gods presence and allow our minds to slow down. That’s often easier to do in the presence of others who are also seeking God’s presence, so you are invited to a day of retreat and reflection.

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
 You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
 You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways…
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!   (Psalm 139:1-3, 17)

While most of us would like to be mindful of God’s presence and able to discern his thoughts (at least some of them), it is often difficult to notice that which is quiet and subtle, especially when so much else clamors for our attention. God more often whispers than shouts, and leaves fingerprints for us to search out rather than neon lights flashing in our faces.

Every aspect of creation bears marks of its Creator, signs pointing to the ongoing presence, stability and love of God, who is still watching over and sustaining this world through all the turmoil of this present time. I find that sketching or writing as I observe creation can be one pathway to being present here and now, seeing God’s fingerprints in the world around us, and becoming aware of his presence. And when we become aware of God’s presence, we are drawn into prayer, either with words or in silent communion with and worship of the Master Artist and Author of our faith.

In this retreat we will open our sketchbooks or journals, eyes, and hearts to God’s presence and look with eyes of faith into the world around us to see God’s touch, as we draw apart for a few hours from our responsibilities and worries to rest in his presence.

Details:
Saturday, January 8, 2022
9:45 AM – 3:00 PM
Immanuel Church
Wappingers Falls, NY

We will alternate brief presentations with periods of silence for meditation, prayer, and sketching, followed by a time to share thoughts, observations, and sketches.

All are welcome and artistic experience isn’t necessary, but you will need a few supplies. Email me (melissafischerartist@gmail.com) for more details and to register.

Sketching as Prayer Retreat October 30, 2021

Join me for a day of retreat, rest, and renewal as we open our eyes, our sketchbooks or journals, and our hearts to God’s presence in his creation. This is an invitation to give yourself a day to slow down and renew your focus on our steadfast God through silence and prayer before the busyness of the holiday season is upon us. We will have times to encourage one another with the thoughts, insights, and sketches or written words that have come from our observation and meditation. Artistic experience is not necessary; you can sketch with any kind of simple art supplies or you can “sketch” with words.

Details:
Saturday, October 30, 2021
9:45 AM to 3:00 PM
Wappingers Falls, NY
Email me (melissafischerartist@gmail.com) for more details or to let me know you’d like to participate.

Sketching People at Classis

I was away the past two days at Classis, our denomination’s biannual regional meeting for pastors, elders, and deacons to discuss church business, planning, and policy. This was my first time as a delegate to an actual Classis meeting, as our spring meeting was by Zoom, due to Covid. I am not ordinarily a fan of business meetings and wasn’t sure how I’d feel about sitting through an evening meeting followed by much of the next day in meetings, but I loved being at Classis.

Of course it helped that Classis was held Camp Connri, a beautiful location in the quiet Northeastern corner of Connecticut, where I could sketch outside before it all started Wednesday and then early yesterday morning.

There was such an atmosphere of love for God and of a desire to honor him by serving and loving people, both those in the church and in the community at large, that the deliberations were inspiring to me on multiple levels. I especially enjoyed connecting with other delegates and hearing their thoughts and experiences of prayer and of ways of encouraging spiritual growth in ourselves and others. It was a privilege to meet with these very inspiring pastors, elders, and deacons in our region! I also was very inspired by sharing sketches and ideas with a fellow deacon from our church who’s also an artist and with an artist we met who is a leader in an Indonesian church in New Hampshire.

Of course I sketched people throughout the meetings, and as I look at my sketches now, I am reminded of those people and of some of what they said during the meetings and in conversations I had with them; in that sense my sketches function as notes, and also as prompts for prayer.

Sketching as Prayer Retreat– Saturday, August 28

Sketching as Prayer Retreat
August 28, 2021
9:45 
AM to 3:00 PM

Immanuel Church
Wappingers Falls, NY
 

Join us for a day of retreat, rest, and renewal as we open our sketchbooks or journals, eyes, and hearts to God’s presence in his creation and look to discover his fingerprints all around us. This is an opportunity to slow down and renew our focus on God through silence and prayer. We will also have times to encourage one another with the thoughts, insights, and sketches or written words that have come from our observation and meditation. Artistic experience not necessary; you can sketch with any kind of simple art supplies or with written words.

Details:
Saturday, August 28, 2021
9:45 AM to 3:00 PM
Immanuel Church (Wappingers Falls, NY)

Email Melissa Fischer (melissafischerartist@gmail.com) for more details or to let her know you’ll participate.

Sketching as Prayer Retreat Sketches

We had fabulous weather for the Sketching as Prayer retreat two weeks ago, so all of the participants and I spent quite a bit of time outside on the beautiful grounds of Holy Cross Monastery. The cloisters are lovely, peaceful places from which to look down over the fields to view the river and the hills on the far side of the river. There are also numerous places to sit, either on strategically placed benches or on convenient rocks or fallen trees by the river, where one can relax to the lapping of river waves, while watching boats and birds pass by. Once when I was sketching by the river I heard light steps behind me and turned to see a doe walking in my directions. I sat very still, and she came to about six feet from me and started browsing on low branches before she saw me. She startled and ran a short distance, then stopped to study me before ambling slowly on her way.

The monastery was in retreat silence, so other than in our meeting room and over dinner, there was no conversation in the building or on the grounds, so we had a very peaceful, meditative atmosphere– perfect for our retreat! I had prepared short power point presentations for each session, which included discussion of the various topics and approaches, and then we all dispersed to sketch and pray or meditate and just to enjoy our time of retreat.

Here are a few of my sketches (click on the image in order to view larger image):

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