In early August, during the lockdown period in England, I spent a few hours drawing with artist friends at a local community-run public open space called Albion Millennium Green in Forest Hill (Southeast London), and found a captivating corner on the edge of the park. It was a still summer’s afternoon, and sunlight was streaming through the trees. What first caught my eye as I first sat and took in the scene, was the way the tree branches, shadows and benches were angled and seemed to interact; either intersecting, or ‘veering’ in similar directions. At first, I tried to focus on drawing everything accurately to try to be faithful to that precious quality of light and stillness that I was experiencing. However I realised very quickly that there was too much information to try to capture in one sitting. I also noticed, that just like the big tree-trunks and branches, every little leaf, twig and blade of grass also seemed to have a significant presence and ‘direction’. I stopped trying to draw the trees and leaves and shadows realistically, and just started to respond to the energy of the place, trying to capture the angle and direction that shapes were moving in (or growing towards). As a result, all that I modified as I continued to draw were the length of my pencil lines and the softness of the pencils I was using to make my marks darker or lighter.
Having completed the drawing, I began to reflect on the idea of ‘movement’ that had surfaced through drawing. When I described the experience to a Pilates instructor friend of mine, she replied simply, ‘movement means life’. This seemed to be a significant observation, and so I went on to do a Bible-software wordsearch which brought up interesting results: There are many instances of movement, and being moved, in the Bible. Most refer to God’s creation. In Psalm 69:34, “Heaven and earth shall praise Him, The seas and everything that moves in them.” Human beings are included in this description, and so we are equally called to praise God in all the ways in which we grow and move. Other instances in the Old Testament show that God was moved by prayers and petition, and so an anticipated threat or judgement was overturned. Likewise, Jesus in the Gospels was regularly moved with compassion for individuals or situations.
There are instances however where God will ‘not be moved’. Psalm 93 vs. 1 “The Lord reigns, He is clothed with majesty; The Lord has clothed and encircled Himself with strength. Indeed, the world is firmly established; it will not be moved.” The Bible makes similar assertions of God’s people. Psalm 125 vs. 1 “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but remains forever.” If we take Jesus as our example, then there are things which ought to move us, (i.e. not only to feel emotion, but to act), and there are things which ought not to move us, as Jesus’ did not succumb to temptation in the wilderness, or to the constant harassment he faced from the authorities of the day.
I realised finally that this theme highlights questions we can helpfully ask ourselves in an age of constant media and material distraction. Are we being moved by and towards things of eternal worth? Are we remaining unmoved by the wrong voices and forces of this world that lead us away from God, from peace, from growth?