ANNIE KENNEDY

TAVEK

I have a collection of art sitting in my closet that has a story to tell.

The word tavek is a Hebrew word meaning "midst" or "between". In the Bible it is the word used in the creation story for the separation of the waters, and the word used in Joshua 4, when the Israelites miraculously crossed the Jordan River into their Promised Land. The waters of the river parted like the Red Sea, and Joshua was commanded by the Lord to take twelve stones from the middle of the river bed, and take them to the place where they would stay on the other side. These stones were to be set up as an altar in remembrance of the Way-Maker.

Though Israel was now "beyond the Jordan", their story - their journey - was far from over. Though they were standing on covenant soil, they did not yet possess it. This impossible step was simply another one of many steps on the way. This was not the crossing of a finish line. They were neither here nor there. And yet, they were still called to remember and celebrate and commemorate God's faithfulness in the midst of it. In their midst. In their in-between.

The collection of art sitting in my closet comes from what has seem to me to be a never-ending in-between, a never-ending middle ground of neither here nor there. They are the stones I have collected from the journey that I am still on to this day. Just like the stones pulled from the river bed would have been, some of my stones are dirty. They are ink-smudged, dog-eared, and finger-printed. They have been in the midst with me. Some have travelled with me in my suitcase between four countries, and they wear their journey as well as my own.

They are not perfection. They are not high-quality, untouched, crisp, flawless works of art. I have been waiting a long time to be able to present something matching that description, and I honestly don't think that moment will ever come.

It isn't that I don't pursue excellence, or won't anymore. I just believe that excellence can look like the scars of past mistakes, evidence of the things that made us stronger because we survived them.

I don't believe excellence means untouched by pain, or the skilful hiding and beautifying of flaws.

Deuteronomy 27:5-7 is a commandment of the Lord to build an altar of uncut stones. Though the tabernacle had been intricately and precisely decorated by Spirit-filled and skilled craftsmen (Exodus 35:30-35), I believe the altar of uncut stones is a reminder that neither result - the fine or the rough - is the defining factor for what is or is not worthy of holy presentation unto the Lord.

By sharing my art, and offering them as gifts to others, I am declaring to the liminal void that they are worthy of holy presentation unto the Lord. My journey, though rough and frought with trouble, was not, and is not, in vain. It is worth remembering, worth honouring, worth the scars it bore.

I have doubted, and still doubt, these truths. So I am choosing to speak truth even when it feels like a lie. Most of these prints are truths I have needed to hold onto and believe in in my darkest hours, but could not bring my mouth to say out loud.

With each piece I hope to share a little part of the story behind the scars and behind the words, and I promise (myself) that I will not apologise for their imperfections, let alone my own.

Maybe by doing so you will my hand reaching out to hold yours as you too walk the tightrope of a tavek. Maybe your hand will reach back to me, and you'll tell me your story in return, and we'll take a few more steps together.

I really do hope so.

So here they are. The stones that I have pulled from my tavek. My altar of remembrance.

Here is my story of God's faithfulness in my life, as He continues to make a way.

@_tavek

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