In addition to working at the river and in the studio, pilgrimage inspires me to connect with communities I am a part of. While at Bethlehem Farm this past summer, I created a series of window paintings that explore my community’s relationship to energy–the stuff that powers our daily lives and the spiritual force that will never let us go. These stained glass-like paintings are repurposed energy inefficient windows from a local homeowner we were working with. The composition of rounded forms made me think of our interconnectedness, the flow between us that moves us to deeper compassion. Using oil paint, I was sitting with words I had read in the Telling Takes Us Home:
“The story of Appalachia is the story of what many call a “sacrifice zone,” one of the many places of suffering in our world that are exploited for the sake of a global capitalist economy that seeks the ‘maximization of profit’ at any cost and funnels wealth to those at the top.”
The people of Appalachia are just one example of those who disproportionately suffer from the effects of extreme energy. Their proximity to dangerous forms of extraction invites us to reconsider our relationship with electricity and the cultural landscape we move through…and to ask what role churches are playing in renewing our relationship with the web of life. The words from this people’s pastoral letter are a heavy reality. But creativity, as seen with these panels, helps to hold and transform the burden of energy violence into something new and life-giving.
I continue to create paintings that invite active, intentional, collective discernment in our spiritual communities. As the patterns repeat and the cycles evolve, I trust–and hope you will, too–the slow reverberating flow between us and in us and around us, the quiet and all encompassing love of God calling all of creation to renewal.
Casey Murano is an artist and creative pilgrim. She grew up surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains in Roanoke, Virginia and studied art and geography at the University of Richmond. Her involvement in the campus chaplaincy inspired a series of pilgrimages, including walking the Camino de Santiago, visiting sacred sites and learning about sustainability in Italy, and biking to nearby rivers. After graduation, she participated in the St. Joseph Worker Program in Minnesota, and served as an artist in residence at Sarah’s…an Oasis for Women. You can learn more at https://www.caseymurano.com/
Submitted by Casey Murano, VA
Especially during this synod season, pilgrimage as a way of living can invite us to be open to the movement of the Spirit in our daily lives. I think of pilgrimage as as a journey through a landscape of some kind that prompts spiritual transformation. For me, art-making is part of this creative unfolding. Much of my work involves a repeated returning to water and attentiveness to movement in in-between spaces, whether water rushing between rocks, the washes of paint settling into the paper, or ripples of activism in my watershed.