At the heart of Refine’s inaugural issue the contributors, Jack Slinkman, Kat Park, Sarah Kim and I decided on the rather broad topic of Creation because the questions we were asking surrounded the idea of perception. How do we see the world? How do we see ourselves? How do we see God?

Kat’s piece on loneliness and Jack’s Ozymandias collection help us wrestle with our humanity and what it has looked like for us to be created and creating. In particular, Kat’s “Too Great” gave me a better framework to think through my own inner conflict with loneliness. Kat uses this unexpectedly clear imagery of a puddle. And how being present in someone’s life looks like sitting in a puddle. It was an elucidating reminder for me to be the friend who climbs into someone else’s puddle, but also the friend who allows room for others to join me in mine. And how it is both a privilege and a calling to create spaces where we can experience not just the warmth of each other’s presence, but also God’s.

Jack builds upon the work of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ozymandias” by creating a space for the reader to contemplate our values and how our values shape what we dedicate our time to. Through gripping lyricism Jack’s “Flora Ozymandias” and “Flora Emmanuel” poems redirect the reader inward encouraging us to re-see ourselves and the “Calvary Trellis” extended to us. I was struck not only by the words he wrote but by the video he made for his “Flora Emmanuel” poem. It reminded me of a quote by photographer Roland R. Kemler, “God’s gift to the world are the Trees, Sun, and Mountains.” Watching Jack’s depiction of nature and hearing him read his poem aloud helped me to truly envision just how far heaven has extended down to pull us up from our pits of destruction. His “Flora Emmanuel” poem serves a similar purpose as my poem “Integral Beauty.” I was inspired by the beauty of people’s bodies, particularly those with scars. This poem is a space for people to reflect on their body and how it has changed over time. And how these changes have impacted how they see themselves and the world. These observations can also be paired with Donny and Angela’s interview “Taking Time.” A moment that was created to give Donny and Angela, and now all its viewers, the opportunity to reflect on what it looks like to build something well over time.

Each contributed piece as well as the overall design of the magazine was made with the same sentiment that can be learned from engaging art. The magic of art is that it invites the viewer to slow down and re-see the world through a lens that is not their own. It does this by centering the viewer’s focus on the message that is being created through the images or imagery being used. Art, and furthermore this magazine isn’t about skillful production, though there is no doubt that seriously talented and dedicated people helped create this magazine, but it is not just about how well something is made, but also the keen observation of what is being communicated through the means of how it is communicated. That is what this magazine is about, this issue, and the ones to come. A continuous act of finely observing God and his world.

Signature of Ally Green

Alexandra E. Green