Since Christmas I have been working on a large six panel tapestry which brings together the word Shalom, and the Book of Psalms. During Advent I completed a small tapestry featuring the Hebrew word 'shalom ', and it was based around some passages from Isaiah. I wrote about it while it was still in progress, which you can read here and get some idea of what I'm playing at. I don't mind the phrase 'playing at', it combines fun, recreation and experiment.
In due course I will do a second small one with the Hebrew word 'hesed'. I have chosen these two words because they open theological horizons, no one definition or statement of meaning comes close to expressing the 'thick textual textures' they create. That's why they are fertile theological ground, rich in possibility for exploring through the texture of textile colour and image. I have chosen six psalms which separately and together celebrate the God of shalom and hesed. And the two smaller panels will celebrate the equally rich poetry of Isaiah. When they are finished, the long Shalom column and the two small Hebrew tablets will hang in a cruciform pattern.
The panel above is on Psalm 1. The imagery is mostly self-evident, once you're told what the psalm text is. The stability of the life founded on study of Torah, meditation on the word of God, contemplative attentiveness to the gracious command and commanding grace of God. In the foreground the sylised orderliness of the landscape contrasts with the flowing rapids of life-giving water. The fecund trees with evergreen foliage and sound abundant fruit make blessing both visble and extravagant. Shalom is continual fruitfulness and roots irrigated from constant living water. Shalom is stability and constancy that comes from deep roots, plunged like anchors into the ground, the tree in its ideal environment. Torah is the ideal environment for the human heart, will, conscience and mind - no wonder the wise delight in such reflective obedience and reverent enquiry.