Posted in Essay, Spiritual Practice, Terri Stewart

Finding the Sacred in Impermanence

Today I have been thinking about the beauty of impermanence. These thoughts were inspired by an artwork installation I saw recently called Shimmering Tree. Shimmering Tree is a projection of a digital tree onto a huge wall in a gallery. The tree is shimmery, animated, and changes seasons. But it is digital! I wondered about this digital artwork media installment sitting next to traditional portraiture or other more concrete forms of art. Shimmering Tree is art from digital artist Jennifer Steinkamp. An earlier piece of hers is Dervish:

It is a fascinating thing. Steinkamp’s work may be a valuable lesson to not become too attached to a physical manifestation and to embrace the beauty of what is.The inherent contradiction is that this temporary art is captured forever kn a digital form!

I think there may be a deeper spiritual practice lurking in the embrace of impermanence. This is more than recognizing that things change-it is a deep-seated gratitude for impermanence. A recognition of the beauty inherent in change, impermanence, evolution.

I wonder, what have I been holding onto that I need to let go of? Usually those things are behavioral for me. But it could be something else. Shoes. Books. Things. Sometimes I get this fleeting impression of impermanence when I wish I had my camera with me to capture a particularly beautiful vision. But I am forced, in that moment, to receive the image and to release it-with gratitude.

Thinking of impermanence and developing a greater appreciation for it led me to remember a video I saw from Ukraine’s Got Talent. This art is the epitome of grace, beauty, and impermanence.

Of course, life has always been impermanent. Art decays. But usually it is with us more than 5 minutes! Much art outlasts people! What are we going to do when everything has a lifespan tied to the technology cycle?

We better learn to master this! I wonder if there is one word you would like to offer as a movement towards seeing the beauty of impermanence? My word is: ego.

How about you?

Shalom and Amen,


© 2013, post , Terri Stewart, All rights reserved

terriREV. TERRI STEWART is Into the Bardo’s  Sunday chaplain, senior content editor, and site co-administrator. She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual. (The 2014 issue just released!)

Her online presence is “Cloaked Monk.” This speaks to her grounding in contemplative arts and the need to live it out in the world. The cloak is the disguise of normalcy as she advocates for justice and peace. You can find her at,, and  To reach her for conversation, send a note to