A church steeple
There are dozens of churches in East Liverpool. Like many towns across the U.S., immigrants came to Appalachia in hopes of finding a better life for themselves and their families, building churches on every street corner.
Because I’ve spent years living in this area, I’ve been able to take my time studying the region’s houses of worship, primarily focusing on the outside of each structure. Whether old stone cathedrals lasting over 100 years or remodeled wooden chapels, their message is the same:
The building represents peace and hope—like the sunrise represents a new day.
Unfortunately, congregations in this area have dwindled in size. Very few teens and young adults attend. I am sure this true in other areas of our country too.
So, as a parent, I’ve started taking my children to different churches. I want them to see diversity exists not only in our outward appearances, but also in our cultures and beliefs. In other words, I feel it’s important my children experience differences in other people. And at the same time, that through spirituality, we are the same.
In addition, as an artist and an art teacher, I am always looking for ways to bring innovative ideas into my classroom. My daily walks not only improve my physical health, they help my mental well-being.
As I walk, my mind clears of the day’s stress. I notice snow on trees and that the color of the winter sky changes depending upon the day and the time. I try not to worry or think about the future, concentrating instead on uncluttering my mind so I can better observe the nature around me.
This past Saturday morning as I stepped out on the field of snow, St. John’s church steeple stood out against a beautiful sunrise.
The challenge came when holding my two large playful dogs while taking off my mittens to find the camera on my phone and hold my phone steady just long enough to take a picture. Click click. I got it!
That church steeple, representing peace and hope, and that one hour spent in quiet time, is a blessing in my life. It has helped me to appreciate who I am as a person. Most of all, it has helped me to work on my spirituality.
So, last week I implemented this concept in my classroom, showing my students how to concentrate on painting a winter sky. Watercolor is not an easy medium to understand. But once understood …the results are beautiful.