The day before the 2019 Nevertheless She Preached conference at First Baptist Church of Austin, TX my own Catholic church’s young adult ministry hosted Eucharistic Adoration. Although I’ve enjoyed Adoration dozens of times, several factors made this evening different. I was preparing for cervical surgery for one. My Hebrew Bible class at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary was grappling with Rebekah, Rachel, Leah, and the voiceless Dinah. The call to write the history of 20th century Catholic women theologians had been at my ear all day. The catalyst was when two men at the Adoration began leading a song about God the Father.
Maybe it was just the incense but I swear I saw something. An image of the baby crowning from the womb, God gasping in labor, as the Eucharist wore the gold of the monstrance as a crown before the tabernacle. God was pushing the Body of Christ into creation while I prayed for my own sick body. God was crying out with the voices of these thousands of unheard women. We were all there. I snuck out my phone and took a picture, determined to put the scene to paper.
The table sisterhood of the conference fed me deeply and figuring out how to bring that into “real life” is a challenge. Working as an artist part-time, my immediate instinct is to create visually. I had printed out three copies of the picture of the sanctuary at Eucharistic Adoration, a helpful coincidence as I couldn’t decide between artistic media. In oil pastels, acrylic paint, and cut out paper I illustrated God giving birth. In purples and pinks I outlined God and baby over the sanctuary, the pray-er in front of me silhouetted. The simple patches of color showing God’s eyes and open mouth took the lightest touch as I tried to express God’s moans.
God isn’t always as visible, and sometimes God’s labor seems a distant fantasy. Sometimes the voices of those who came before me are shouted over by those who tell me I’m too radical or heretical. Putting the vision to paper is easy, but then again the map always makes the journey look easy.
K Kriesel (https://www.instagram.com/kkriesel_art/) earned her Bachelor of Fine Art at Alverno
College and is currently pursuing a Master in Ministry Practice at Austin Presbyterian
Theological Seminary. She works at a Catholic Church in downtown Austin, TX and in her spare
time paints, quilts, and collages as a spiritual practice.