Thursday, June 12, 2014

“The Spark Became a Blaze” : A Tribute to The Rev. Canon Richard Lief

When The Rev. Canon Richard Lief was invited aboard as Cathedral Canon of the Arts by then Dean John Chane, he got right on board. It has been a great ride lasting 17 years!

This Sunday, June 15, we celebrate Canon Richard’s ministry as Canon of the Arts. He is now retiring from that position. However, thankfully, he is not leaving the Cathedral.

In the 10:30 am service The Rt. Rev. John Chane will preach, readers' theater groups and Jean Isaacs’ San Diego Dance Theater will perform in honor of Canon Richard and the future of the arts at the Cathedral.

Art Has Filled the Cathedral
In the course of Canon Richard’s years leading the arts he has nurtured many performing and visual artists from both within the Cathedral community and beyond. Because he responded to the call, art exhibitions have expressed the message and beauty of God on the walls of the Cathedral and Great Hall. Film, theater, poetry and dance have been presented in arresting sight and sound evoking contemplation and self-examination.

In his original
 interpretive dance
“The Prodigal Son”
Many Lives Affected
The lives of many artists, arts supporters and audiences have been moved ahead in their journeys because of Canon Richard’s faithful guidance and advocacy of the arts in the Cathedral.

The Cathedral Center for the Performing and Visual Arts formed under his encouraging leadership and is now foundational for the Cathedral’s growth both as a nurturing place of artists and as a place where high quality works can be experienced.

We extend our gratitude to Canon Richard for unreserved service through the arts and to his wife, Carolyn, who has been such a wonderful support to him.

The Flame of Art Has Grown
Here is the text for the offertory which will be performed by dramatic readers this Sunday:
“There was a void. And life wanted to form and fill it. God expressed the light and the darkness could not say no. The spark traveled forward and came to the heart of St. Paul's Cathedral way off in 1998 and found Dean John Chane. It was that strange warming which caused him to call out like God spoke and the spark lit the heart of Richard Lief seventeen years ago.
And Richard blew gently on that spark 'til it flamed up and called the artists around to kindle this new campfire.

Oh, it burned like the sun lighting the morning of new art on the Cathedral walls. Color oozed onto canvases and wove into quilts. The chisel warmed forms out of cold, hard rock. And dancers leaped like flames to the hymns of the saints' imaginations.
And Richard, with his broad smile and witty tongue, made room for more artists about that bonfire. Oh, the flames on the heads of the saints made language bubble from the poets, stories spin from the pages of the playwrights into the hearts of the actors 'til they could be silent no more. The audiences caught the fire and laughed and exclaimed and took those hot coals out to cook the good news and feed it to their loved ones.

And Richard tended that fire as the artists would come and go 'til it became the Cathedral Center for the Performing and Visual Arts, burning and crackling and cooking the feast for all who would come. And the artists multiplied in the heat of that kitchen. And some of the artists started cooking like Father Lief so he could sit down to the table and dance out with a new torch to light up the beyond.
So he had taught those artists to join hands and sing. And that's what we do after planning arts feasts at our monthly arts meetings. Artists come forward and Richard please join us!

We sing in a weaving of prayer and thanksgiving a doxology binding together our hearts as God's artist children should do. Will you join the song now laying our gifts on the Lord’s Table, standing and joining your hands as Richard has taught us?”

(The Congregation Sings) “Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost

>-<  >-<  >-<  >-<  >-<  >-<  >-<  >-<  >-<  >-<
Mark and Donna Turner are career arts leaders and accepting the call to assume leadership of the Cathedral Center for the Performing and Visual Arts as Canon Richard retires. 

1 comment:

Cindy Schuricht said...

One of the many things that draw me to the Cathedral is the honor given to our call to be co-creators with God. What a wonderful leader Richard is. I've just been reading about religion as metaphor to show us the relevance of our beliefs and our rites as the path to transcendence. Art provides portals to the rites and the metaphors of our belief. Richard is open to and supportive of so many varied forms of expression. And he does it with grace, realism, and a sprinkling of puns. We have been and are blessed.