Once a week I open up the laptop, turn on Word and sit and stare at a blank document waiting for an idea to pop into my head to write the newsletter about. After a minute or two of nothing happening I will open up my web browser and check out a variety of sites for inspiration, the BBC News site being one of them. This is how I discovered the story of the Peruvian artist and photographer, Christian Fuchs.

Christian Fuchs lives in an apartment overlooking the Pacific. According to Jane Chamber, the write of the article, his walls are covered with portraits of his ancestors. Or so it seems at first sight. Look again and you’ll realise after a bit that they’re not, not quite. They are in fact images of him meticulously recreating old photos and portraits. Fuchs says it started as a child. He was raised by his grandparents, as was his grandmother who cared for him. This meant that they both had childhoods that were coloured by the generations that had gone before them. Fuchs grew up surrounded by stories of these ancestors as well as their images on his walls.

He originally set out to be a lawyer, but quit law school to become an artist and found himself starring at these old pictures again through a different set of eyes. Sharing many of the same genes, could he dress up to look like his grandmother’s great-great-grandmother Eleanora? So started a process that involved having his hair done, waxing, finding the right costumes and even tackling a corset. The outcome was eerily similar! Since then he’s recreated numerous predecessors – take a look on the website for photos, they are really quite something.

It got me thinking about who I’d recreate from my past. I have a few old photos, but nothing that goes back as far as his portraits. Fortunately, Mary Quant is not an ancestor to the best of my knowledge, I’m not sure what the church would think if I turned up one day reinvented in her image! It would be a fascinating process though to ‘dress-up’ to such an extent that you looked just like them, a great insight I’d imagine, into their world, to almost literally step into their shoes.

As we think about our relationships, one of the four ‘pillars’ of our vision as a church for this year as Dzifa put it last week, I wonder if this is a useful insight. So often, unless we proactively act otherwise, we come to our relationships thinking about what’s in it for me. What do I want from this person, this conversation, this encounter? Perhaps taking a leaf out of Fuch’s approach might help. I’m not saying that we should dress up as others in our family, but perhaps we could consciously try and put ourselves in their shoes and think about what the world looks like through their eyes. Perhaps this would give us an insight into their feelings and needs, and so help us begin to think about how we can serve the other person, rather than get from them. Think about it for a moment, isn’t that just what Jesus did when he stepped into human form? If we can do this, it will go a long way to helping our relationships and another pillar, our Twelve Months of Mission.

Church Newsletter, 19.02.17