Jennifer Holberg, writing for The Twelve (blog.perspectivesjournal.org), describes a term she was recently introduced to: witness-trees. Witness-trees designated property lines or notable locations that are part of an area’s history.
Trying to find something good about turning fifty and having lived in the same city for twenty years, Holberg writes, “Our culture so often equates rootedness with stodginess, with quiet desperation. But Psalm 1, one of the very first Bible passages I ever memorized, urges us to be a ‘person . . . like a tree planted by streams of water/which yields its fruit in its season/and whose leaf does not wither.’ To be rooted as a witness-tree is a metaphor that might serve to make one well-contented in middle age. Indeed, it is powerful goal: to be something that lives, even with damage embedded, to testify.”
You’ll want to read Holberg’s entire blog post, but I wonder if a large-scale interpretation of this deeply rooted tree planted by streams of water wouldn’t make for a striking visual reminder to be like those strong trees—whatever age we are.
The horizontal orientation could also stretch your creative positioning skills!
In design circles, no doubt reacting to too many “masterpieces” created using photo-manipulation software, there appears to be a trend towards “old-school” illustration. It’s a welcome trend. I wonder if we might start to see more art showing up in our worship spaces as well.
To capture the woodcut feel of this illustration (drawn using marker and then edited in, yes, Photoshop), I imagine the black (pattern here) being cut from a single piece of black felt—or, if you’re going really big, two widths sewn together lengthwise before cutting. Then the colors for the sky, reeds, and water are added behind. Keep the edges uneven, and let the color panels extend beyond the black to convey a handmade quality.
Leave this hanging for some time. Perhaps at first include a note of explanation, but in the long term the Scripture reference should be enough to get people curious and reflecting on this text.