Advent Art: Guideposts in the Wilderness

Advent Art: Guideposts in the Wilderness

Allyson Darakjian   •   December 1, 2016

Dear friends,

This past September, my husband and I had the opportunity to hike through the Enchantments, a chain of lakes in the mountains above Leavenworth. The scenery is unlike anything I've seen before: vast and moon-like granite boulder fields roll into meadows with golden larches clustered around glassy glacial lakes. It is breath-taking...and quiet...and deserted (minus the mountain goats).

After a long uphill climb, the setting sun forced us to look for a comfortable place to lay our heads for the night. A large stack of heavy rocks intentionally stacked on top of one another greeted us at the site where we pitched out tent. At first, I was annoyed that our pristine surroundings were interrupted by another person's apparent monument to him/herself. It felt like an unwanted guest in our pursuit of solitude. Compared to the glacially-carved wilderness we were surrounded by, this rock cairn, admittedly impressive in its construction, paled in comparison to its backdrop. 

The next morning we packed our things and started our way back to the trailhead. We quickly realized that the "way" home wasn't clearly marked out for us at all, and that the only thing really leading us back to our car were the rock cairns. The hike home through unmarked territory became a search for rock statues. These cairns were our guideposts. Springing from rocks, perched on ledges, or atop high boulders, they reminded us that we were on the right path. My annoyance turned to gratitude that someone would spend the time building a rock tower to mark were they had been, because now their markers were helpful signposts and comforting reminders that someone had been there before me, and that I would make it back home. There were a few times where the cairns were spaced few and far between and I felt doubt and anxiety that we were on the wrong path. Yet, each time we came across a new cairn, the doubt subsided, confidence was renewed, and gratefulness for the sojourners before me was rekindled.

In this season of Advent, when we again renew our search for the source of our hope and joy, we need guideposts to usher us forward. We wait with great anticipation, not passively but with footsteps faithfully taken toward each guidepost, one after the other. Luke's gospel account features three songs, the songs of Zechariah, Mary, and Simeon. These songs have been guideposts for Christ's followers for centuries. These are our guideposts, ones that fill us with hope and encouragement as we pursue the one who has called us. Springing out of stories of longing, like cairns springing out of unmarked wilderness, these songs are the markers of God's faithfulness to those who have come before us in our story of seeking and waiting. I have created a series of works inspired by these Advent songs and modeled after those cairns I encountered in my own wilderness wanderings. My hope is that these works guide us toward the One who guides our feet in the way of peace this Advent season.

Peace and hope this Advent, 
Allyson Darakjian