Last Saturday, I was blessed to spend the day at the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Springfield, VA for a Visual Faith event. At the start of the day, I was greeted by a new friend who said, “Before coming, I prayed that I would either be encouraged or encourage others.” I think we both left feeling encouraged. It was a beautiful day.
Lisa Nichols Hickman, author of Writing in the Margins, gave a talk about God, gold, and margins. These concepts come together in the margins of our Bible where the “golden margins” leave room on the page to meet up with God. For publishing, the Golden Margin means the ideal margin settings for the text. Curiously, I’ve thought about the golden ratio as a margin artist. Sometimes I find the 2” x 7” rectangle left on the right side of the beautifully laid out text as challenging for design purposes. One day, I thought: “what if I designed a tip-in based on the golden ratio.” Here’s an example of what I mean:
I printed out the familiar golden ratio block and thought about how I might add design elements….
Then I made the tip-in.
The golden ratio makes anything pleasing to the eye. (Nerdy art tip!!!)
I loved Lisa’s idea of beginning a page in our Bible and leaving room to come back to the page to report back on what God has done as a result of spending time in the text. She shared Isaiah 58:6-11 as a passage that encourages us to go out into the world and then meet back up with God. The passage exhorts us to take away the yoke, stop pointing fingers and speaking wickedness, pour ourselves out for the hungry and satisfy the afflicted. Then when we call to God, God will say “Here I am.” Lisa shared a time when a friend left a blessing bag for a homeless man and was blessed to see him enjoying the products she left for him the next morning. Lisa also acknowledged that there are plenty of times where we go out and do as God says and we find ourselves going back to the margins with a lament. The relationship we tried to reconcile remains troubled or something just wasn’t well received. In these cases, the challenge is to ask ourselves how do we still see God shining.
She gave us the memory device: Go, God, Gold.
Go: What we do as a result of reading God’s Word
God: Returning to God with our report
Gold: How did God shine?
Isaiah 58 is pretty packed with journaling in my Bible, but I added a reminder on the backside of a tip-in. YES, MY MARGINS NEED A MARGIN!!!
Lisa shared how and why gold is used so often in illuminated manuscripts. The gold exalts the text, reveals the presence of God, shows the costliness of God, reveals the presence of God, and draws us into the picture. She showed images from the beautiful St. John’s Bible where gold is used throughout as a symbol for God.
After all this talk about gold, I found myself reflecting on a Go, God, Gold moment in my own life. Lisa encouraged us to think through how God shines even when things seem broken or not going as planned. This brought to mind a passage from 1 Peter: “When you are grieved by various trials remember that trials show the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold.” For a while, I just pondered the wonder that a genuine faith is more precious than gold. Our faith, a gift from God, shines most brightly in times of trial.
After Lisa’s presentation there was time for fellowship and lunch. This is the second time I’ve had the opportunity to get together with this amazing group of Lutheran women. Both times I’ve come away inspired to do more at home with my own children to encourage their faith. I was inspired to order the book Praying in Color for kids after a break-out session where someone shared how popular visual prayer is with her homeschool group.
I also loved this idea: One of the ladies said to me: “Haven’t you done a rolodex with your kids yet?” I was like “Huh?” And another friend said, “Oh yes, I always give a rolodex as a baby shower gift.” And I was thinking, “Really?” So the idea is to create a rolodex filled with faith words and pictures from faith events like baptisms and confirmation as a way of encouraging discussion about faith at home. Feeling inspired to start our rolodex!!! In the meantime, I wrote down the definition I found for “blessed” in Connie Denninger’s rolodex and entered it in my Bible. (I used my inkjet printer to print the above picture onto Removable Window Decal paper that I found at Staples, a fun option for adding photos to your Bible. The paper is transparent, so you can even lay the picture over the text if you like and the text will shine through.)