Art plays an important role at St. Lydia’s, and not just in our graphic design or excellent taste in tablecloths. During the sacred meal we share each Sunday night, when we cook together, break bread, pray and sing at our table, we place practice before belief, choosing to let the meaning of what we do unfold from our liturgy (which is grounded in a long history and rich tradition of Christian worship) into the rest of our lives. Making art, for me at least, is also a practice, one that has important parallels with this liturgical practice. I work in my studio because I feel a kind of hunger that can’t be satisfied in any other way.Many of the people who come to St. Lydia’s come from outside church traditions, and the hunger they feel for spiritual communion is easiest to identify by its similarity to other kinds of hunger. The hunger for food, the hunger for fellowship and connection, and for a place to ask the questions that have no answers. We arrive hungry, we pick up what’s in front of us, and we work with it until we’ve made something edible, or something that we can look at, consider, chew on.
There is no direct correlation between object and meaning in the making of art, and the same goes for dinner church. Every week as a community we walk up to the line between what we know and what we don’t know and try to spend a few hours living in between those two realms. Every time we make a work of art or consider one, we are walking up to the same line; we practice a radical way of looking at the world where the old categories—high church or low church, decorative art or fine art, rich or poor, in or out—don’t apply.