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Center for Action and Contemplation
Crisis Contemplation
Crisis Contemplation

Art Is Prophetic

Friday, June 30, 2023

Barbara Holmes emphasizes how the arts are an integral part of crisis contemplation and healing communal wounds.  

The artists are the prophets. They say what can’t be said in ways that can be heard. They dance it, rap it, and write it in dramas. They are the forerunners for the community. During the Civil Rights Movement, what stitched the movement together was the art and the songs. Everybody did not agree on the process and strategies, but they all agreed on the old songs. Everybody knew them and could sing them. Art knit a community together without having to do a lot of talking about it. The poetry and rap rhythms offered survival to people who were marginalized into poverty. Through art, they could take that poverty and turn it on its head. In our communities, we offer graffiti images of folks who are slain. We dance. We let our bodies reveal our suffering and our persistence. When all else fails, we sing ourselves sane.  

Art opens portals to new realities…. Art is prophetic. Art is humanizing. It speaks truth to power, and so it is another way in which a community can come together and express themselves in ways the power structures can do nothing about. What do you do about a rap song that speaks of the brutality of the system?…  

Art is an expression of Spirit. A lot that comes out of artists is not coming from them. It’s coming through them. The reason art is so powerful is that when you have expressions of art coming through a group of people, a village, a community, you have a great deal of creative and strategic power that’s available to everyone for their use. Making art together is an act of creation that I find invigorating. My communities of choice are artistic communities because they’re always on the cutting edge. They’re not leading with what they think. They’re leading with what is coming through them and that’s always so healing. [1] 

CAC staff member Drew Jackson writes poetry inspired by the Bible. In this poem, he writes of the angel Gabriel and the prophets that confront injustice with God’s healing power. 

The Spirit of Elijah 

Luke 1:14–18 

I’ve been told that God shows up  
on shores, in boats, with Bibles  
and swords. 

I’ve been told that God does  
the bidding of kings  
seeking to plant their flag on my soil. 

I’ve been told that God snuggles up to  
power that delights to  
kill bodies like mine. 

But that’s not what Gabriel said.  

Gabriel said that God’s prophet  
will have the spirit of Elijah,  
bringing life to widows’ households.  

Gabriel said that God’s prophet  
will possess the power of the Tishbite,  
tearing down monuments to the god of domination.  

Gabriel said that God’s prophet  
will be filled with the Holy Spirit,  
committed to speaking out against Ahabs and Jezebels.  

Thus saith the LORD. [2] 


[1] Adapted from Barbara Holmes and Donny Bryant, “The Village Response,” The Cosmic We, season 4, episode 4 (Albuquerque, NM: Center for Action and Contemplation, forthcoming), podcast, MP3 audio. 

[2] Taken from God Speaks Through Wombs by Drew Jackson. Copyright © 2021 by Drew Edward Jackson. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515-1426.  

Image credit: A path from one week to the next—Izzy Spitz, Untitled, watercolor. CAC Staff, Untitled, watercolor. Izzy Spitz, Field Study 2, oil pastel on canvas. Used with permission. Click here to enlarge image

When the world swirls around us we go to the sacred center. 

Story from Our Community:  

Recently in the Daily Meditations, I read two phrases resonated in me: “Many people fall into non-dual consciousness,” and “Crisis contemplation arose out of necessity.” When the Covid-19 pandemic began, I felt compelled to embark on a few religious disciplines that would help me navigate the fear, isolation, and uncertainty. Little did I know that an extreme racial upheaval and trauma would rock this nation at the same time. As a Black, 67-year-old female who has lived in the inner-city for most of my life, violence is not foreign to me. Even with fasting and daily prayer, I found myself growing numb as the killings, protests, and riots continued. My prayer, hope, and belief is that we can use this time of national discomfort and suffering to propel us to change. In the midst of restarting, I feel we all have a tremendous opportunity to change directions. This would truly be the blessing to come out of the isolation and pain we collectively experienced from the crisis of the global pandemic. —Fabian C. 

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